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Social inequality is the existence of
unequal opportunities and outcomes for individuals in different social
positions or statuses in society. Social inequality is a multi-dimensional
issue meaning there are different levels of inequality. There is inequality
between individuals (gender, race, ethnicity, regions), Inequality within
countries and Global inequality between countries. (UN Capital Development
Fund, 2013. When looking to define poverty it is important to note that poverty
can be separated into two categories, absolute poverty and relative poverty.
Absolute poverty can be defined as, “a condition characterised by severe
deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water,
sanitation facilities, health, shelter or education” (United Nations,
1995). Whereas Relative poverty is viewing poverty in comparison to the
physical possession of others (Townsend, 1979). According to Townsend, when an
individual lacks the resources to obtain the types of diet, participate in the
activities and have the living conditions and amenities which are widely
encouraged or approved, in the societies to which they belong, they are living
in poverty (Townsend, 1979). This definition helps to measure the gap between
the rich and the poor. Social exclusion can be defined as, processes that block
basic individual or community rights, gags opportunities and basic resources
that are often readily available to habitats of a society and vital to the
well-being and social integration of a people. (Butler and Watt 2007). In other
words, social exclusion deprives individuals of their rights and freedoms to
fully engage on social aspects of the society i.e. in matters politics, social
and economic. Inequality, poverty and social exclusion are all connected as
they have a knock-on effect on one another. Inequality causes poverty and as a
result, poverty causes social excision, this is known as the cycle of poverty.
This essay will explain how these social issues are connected and interlink
with one another.

 

 

Inequality, poverty and social
exclusion are topics that have previously been explored by social theorist such
as Marxist. According to Marxist, the major cause of poverty is inequality or
uneven distribution of wealth and income he says this a main consequence of
capitalism. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country’s
industry is controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.
Marxist argues that capitalism produces inegalitarian social structures and
that inequality is transferred from one generation to another through the
opportunities and environmental services that surround each individual. He
believes that inequality, poverty, and social exclusion are interlinked but
however cannot be eradicated without fundamental changes being made in the mode
of production.

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Inequality is one of the leading
causes of poverty in the UK. Inequality between individuals in society is known
as social inequality, this refers to gender, race and ethnicity inequality. One
form of social inequality which occurs in the U.K. is the gender gap. The
gender gap prefers to inequality between men and women. The gender gap shows
how unequal access to opportunities maintains inequality between the sexes. One
aspect of the gender gap is the pay gap, which refers to the difference in
wages and salaries between men and women. The gender pay gap for full-time
employees in 2016 was 9.4%, meaning the average pay for full-time female
employees was 9.4% lower than for full-time male employees. (Office for
National Statistics, 2016). Due to this pay difference between men and women,
women are more susceptible to relative poverty as they may not be able to
afford the items that their male counterpart can as they get paid less. This
shows how inequality can lead to poverty, in this case, relative poverty.
However, on a bigger scale, inequality can lead to absolute poverty. Inequality
in the distribution of money can cause absolute poverty as if money is not
distributed equally, this creates a divide between the rich and the poor.
Meaning the rich getting richer and the poor struggle to maintain survival and
meet their basic human needs which could lead to starvation and homelessness i.e.
absolute poverty.

 

 

Both forms of poverty, absolute and
relative, could potentially lead to social exclusion. Levitas (1998) analyses
the literature around the subject and provides three key social policies
relating to the causes and solutions of social exclusion. She calls these;
Redistribution Discourse (RED), Social Integration Discourse (SID) and Moral
‘Underclass’ Discourse (MUD). The first RED is firmly linked to poverty, it
sees social exclusion as both a consequence and cause of poverty, its aims are
to tackle poverty and redistribute the wealth, and more recently power. Its
solution is mainly focused creating an inclusive society, which is what Lister
states, is the antonym of social exclusion. SID, a social integrationist
discourse, again sees social exclusion as a cause of poverty, but this time
through the means of unemployment. Their solution is to support the unemployed
whilst encouraging them to find work, effectively making sure everyone is
economically active. Finally, MUD (right wing version), which places an
increased emphasis on moral and cultural causes of poverty, and the ‘dangerous
class’, the solution to social exclusion as Levitas states is full employment,
with a reduction in benefits and return to traditional family values, in
particular reducing the number of lone parents, and never married mothers).
From Levitas’ analyse it is very clear to see there is a clear connection
between poverty and social exclusion.

 

 

The Urban Ecology is a visible
example of how poverty leads to social exclusion. Urban ecology is the study of
ecological processes in urban environments, this includes the study of ghettos.
A ghetto is a part of a city that is occupied by the poor and minority groups,
these areas are usually considered slum areas and often have high levels of
crime and deviance. Individuals who live in ghettos are often marginalised and
socially excluded from the rest of society and this all comes down to the fact
that they are poor. They are usually trapped in the cycle of poverty and
therefore have limited opportunities, therefore elucidating the impression that
poverty leads to social exclusion which then leads to inequality. Relative
poverty can also lead to social exclusion but on a smaller scale, for instance,
if an individual was in relative poverty this would result in them unable to
afford leisure activities that their peers can. Therefore limiting the opportunities,
they have to socialise with their peers which could result in them becoming
socially excluded from their companions simply because they cannot afford to
socialise.

 

 

In conclusion, poverty, inequality
and social exclusion are all connected and as a result, have a knock-on effect
on one another. When looking into the causes of poverty, social exclusion and
inequality must be considered in order to gain a clearer picture of the issue.
Similarly, when looking into the causes of social exclusion, poverty and
inequality must be considered as these social issues are all interlinked. These
three social issues all play a part in contributing to an individual’s standard
of life. These issues have previously been explored by several social
theorists, one of which include Marxists who blamed these social issues on
capitalism. Levitas also explored these social issues however her focus was on
the literature surrounding these issues, never the less she still came to the
conclusion that all three social issues connect with each other. 

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