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Poverty Concerns in Today’s Society Research Paper


Poverty continues to molest and threaten the existence of the human race with each part of the world being affected though in different proportions. It remains a relevant topic in discussions with policies being implemented in different parts of the world to avert and control it.

Throughout the centuries, poverty has changed in the definition with Scrutton stating, “The concept of poverty is translated into policy through a more precise set of definitions and measures” (2011, p. 3). With the world increasingly becoming a global village as witnessed by developments in information sharing and communication, the concept of poverty has also been revised. The problems facing the poor in the last centuries are different from those in the current society.

Different concerns have therefore emerged. The measures traditionally taken have also changed. This research proposal does not focus on the change in contemporary measures of poverty control, but on the concerns. Specifically, it examines the topic of poverty as a contemporary social concern by discussing the possible measures that have resulted from globalization.

Societal View of Poverty

According to Scrutton, the definition of poverty depends on the society in which an individual or a group of people exist (2011). Most of the definitions are related to the standards of living of individuals and the income generated to sustain oneself and his or her family units. The way of life of a community is pivotal in determining the level of poverty and its exact definition.

In the contemporary world, the definition of poverty is often made international by bodies such as the World Bank and the United Nations bodies with a hypothetical line being described for the various regions of the world. Surveys are conducted seasonally to establish the levels of poverty in various parts of the world to determine the success rate for the programs set aside for its mitigation (Scrutton, 2011).

International bodies, regional bodies, international governments, and social groupings have put different measures to eliminate poverty with goals being set up for each of the measures (Batchelor, 2011, p. 6). The advent of globalization and developments in information technology has also revolutionized the approach to poverty (Batchelor, 2011, p. 6).

Since poverty is a sensitive issue affecting millions of people in the world, governments have put up mechanisms of controlling social outrage that may emanate from the frustration it generates. Several concerns related to poverty in the society are essential to consider. They will best be discussed by the carrying of a literature review. The following therefore is a literature review on the contemporary concerns of global poverty.

Literature review

A literature review is a good way of evaluating and discussing a research topic as it examines the body of knowledge that is already available on the same topic (WetFeet, 2003, p. 7). It also creates a room for the researcher to establish the need for research to answer questions that relate to the previous studies.

It is therefore appropriate to carry out a literature review on the contemporary concerns of poverty. In this research proposal, a number of articles discuss the effects that poverty has on the society based on a literature search that was conducted. In the results of the literature search, three articles were selected and discussed as being relevant to the topic under study.

The first article by Scrutton focuses on India and especially on the hunger strike by protesters and the role of social media (Scrutton, 2011). The story is about the hunger protest that has been going on in the country for some time with one of the famous protesters, Irom Sharmila, protesting for over ten years (Scrutton, 2011). Poverty is a cause of social unrest in various parts of the world with various revolutions taking part consequently as witnessed by political revolutions in the Middle East and Africa (Scrutton, 2011).

According to Scrutton, social media in India helped to rally some of the biggest protests in the country (2011). The explanation that was brought forward is that the poor are increasingly becoming vulnerable to any form of incitement because of unemployment and the large amount of free time that they can afford (Scrutton, 2011).

Over the years, India has witnessed a remarkably rapid economic growth, which has led to improved standards of living (Scrutton, 2011). However, the creation of large urban areas and cities has resulted to rural-urban migration of farmers in search of employment opportunities.

They have ended up being disappointed on reaching the prominent cities. This case has therefore created a contemporary form of poverty where the poor who were once able to provide for themselves and their families are increasingly being forced to seek alternative means of earning a living. One of the cases highlighted in the article is the breakdown in the social order that is because of the increased number of people dependent on handouts from well-wishers and governments (Scrutton, 2011).

According to Scrutton, the mass protests witnessed in the country were because of the contemporary avenues (the social media) that the poor in today’s society have found useful to address their grievances in a bid to make themselves heard (2011).

One of the supporting statements is, “Twitter, Facebook, and aggressive private TV have helped to rally India’s biggest protests in decades to support civil activist Anna Hazare, a digital groundswell of a wired middle class that echoes the Arab Spring besides taking a Congress party-led government of elderly politicians by surprise” (Scrutton, 2011, p. 5).

The author then goes ahead to make a comparison of the economic situations in India and other Asian countries. He compares the effect that social media has had on the poor in the countries.

According to Zembylas and Vrasidas, one of the most prevalent social problems in the United States is poverty (2005, p. 17). The researchers estimated that the population that lived in poverty in the year 2002 was a significant proportion of the general population, which is 12.1% (Zembylas, & Vrasidas, 2005, p. 21).

The study also set to affirm the belief that the concept of poverty was dependent on the individual and not on the social factors as previously thought (Zembylas, & Vrasidas, 2005, p. 21). Some of the contemporary issues that the problem of poverty is associated with include crime and homelessness. According to Zembylas and Vrasidas, crime in the US was related to the level of poverty in most instances (2005, p. 23).

They proved the claim by showing that the most insecure places are those with high levels of poverty in the population with those having wealthier individuals being relatively safe (Zembylas, & Vrasidas, 2005, p. 22). This observation could be argued in many perspectives with the other one being that governments are reluctant to protect the poor since they represent an insignificant part of income generation in the country.

The other stated contemporary problem of poverty is the deterioration of health and its related economic burden (Zembylas, & Vrasidas, 2005, p. 23). Boyd stated that the bulk of money spent in the health sector is mainly in the treatment of the poor who live in poor living conditions, which expose them to disease-causing microorganisms and other forms of health hazards (2011, p. 11).

This condition has contributed to strains on economies since the exchequer is responsible for paying for the services (Boyd, 2011, p. 12). Another problem established to result from the poor in society is social unrest that is likely to arise relative to the case discussed for India (Scrutton, 2011, p. 12).

The third significant article that was reviewed is that of Bob Batchelor (2011, p. 7). His study was based on the popular American culture and the changes that have occurred with the advent of the digital technology (Batchelor, 2011, p. 6). He begins by stating that human beings are currently global in nature. In the current period, a digital nature has emerged (Batchelor, 2011, p. 4). Poverty has continued to ravage the digital age with the poor lagging behind in the race towards globalization.

In the article, Batchelor focuses on the American culture by using the previous centuries for comparison (2011, p. 6). There are some prominent issues discussed regarding the hindrances of globalization and modernization. A significant one is poverty that is a significant piece of the puzzle (Batchelor, 2011, p. 6).

Impacts of academic knowledge on poverty

Throughout the centuries, the society has increasingly been shaped by the knowledge that has been passed from one individual to the next along family and community links (Batchelor, 2011, p. 6). With the inception of academic training, the society has been changed in a significant way. In the case of poverty, academic knowledge has led to the development of new and advanced techniques of earning a living especially in the field of agriculture.

As Boyd describes, the idea of poverty is not just the physical presentation but also an issue that includes the mindsets of the involved society (2011, p. 23). Academic knowledge has a significant role to play in the transformation of this form of the society in changing its beliefs on poverty.

Some of the scientific developments in the digital age have also been not only on the field of information technology, but also on the ways of poverty reduction. Boyd describes some of these developments such as genetic modification of foods and mechanization of farming as some of the measures put in place to reduce hunger and consequently the prevalence of poverty (2011, p. 23).

In the United States, the main concern in the discussion on poverty is the unemployment rate that has continued to haunt successive governments (Foley, 2011, p. 26).

Some of the authors have described artificially created problems such as the global financial crisis and mechanization in organizations as significant factors inhibiting the decline of poverty rates in the US (Foley, 2011, p. 26). Academic knowledge such as that shared in the discussed literature enables the formulation of policy to mitigate poverty and its social effects.

Active citizenship

Active citizenship has a role in the mitigation of the social effects of poverty in the contemporary world. As Foley describes (2011, p. 26), active citizenship has a bearing on all the social aspects of human existence, and is beneficial in the control of some of the problems that may affect them.

Poverty is one of the contemporary problems that can significantly be reduced to embrace active citizenship. Where active citizenship exists, the artificially created poverty would be insignificantly low since the creation of this kind of poverty would be stopped along its course. Another effect of active citizenship is that the citizens are empowered and involved in policy making in all issues that concern them. No politician or wealthy individual would find it easy to take advantage of the citizens.

Relative to the case discussed above, the digital age has created a global citizenship where an individual is aware of all that is happening in different parts of the world. India demonstrated its share of active citizens in the demonstrations discussed above thus demonstrating that citizens have the power to control the problems that are affecting them (Scrutton, 2011).

Active citizenship is an apt way of controlling poverty since the society has many people who have more than enough to sustain themselves. If policies were then implemented with the guide of active citizenship and for the benefit of all the people in a given society, poverty levels would be reduced significantly or done away with altogether.

This goal is evidenced by the finding that the top 100 richest people in the world make enough money a year to eradicate poverty a number of times over and over (Foley, 2011, p. 26). If applied, active citizenship therefore would have a significant effect on global poverty. However, human beings have demonstrated their lack of active citizenship in several occasions hence standing out as one of the hindrances to the application of this principle (Boyd, 2011, p. 503).

Multimedia component

A relevant multimedia component of the problem of poverty is the blog that highlights the interview with Robert Putman about Americas collapsing civic life (Edgerton, 1995). Even though there is no direct link to poverty made in the interview, it is evident that the problem is one of the contributors of the collapse of civic life in America.

It is established that poverty has positively contributed to collapse, which in turn has resulted to more poverty leading to a vicious cycle (Edgerton, 1995). The interview is also focused on the contemporary problems affecting the country. Poverty emerges as one of the significant ones (Edgerton, 1995).


Poverty is a significant problem affecting the world, as people know it today. As discussed above, a number of concerns emerge that relate with poverty. The prevalence could be reduced if the concerned parties embraced active citizenship. Some examples have been provided in the essay.

It is therefore noteworthy that the future and present leaderships consider the problem with priority, as it is a contributor of other social problems such as civil disobedience. Therefore, there is a need to come up with strategies to fight poverty whose effects have led to criminal cases and in some instances critical diseases to people who have been exposed to pathetic living conditions.

Reference List

Batchelor, B. (2011). Digital technology and teaching American culture. Journal of American Culture, 34(1), 49-55.

Boyd, D. (2011). Dear Voyeur, meet Flâneur. Sincerely, Social Media. Surveillance & Society, 8(4), 505-507.

Edgerton, R. (Interviewer). (1995). Bowling Alone: An interview with Robert Putnam about America’s collapsing civic life. Web.

Foley, K. (2011). The net works for social students: Websites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+ are valuable resources for academics who know how to use them, discovers Kathy Foley. Eire: Ashford Online.

Scrutton, A. (2011). India’s social media ‘spring’ masks forgotten protests. New York, NY.: New India-Times.

WetFeet, I. (2003). Killer cover letters and resumes! The WetFeet insider guide. San Francisco, CA: WetFeet, Incorporated.

Zembylas, M., & Vrasidas, C. (2005). Globalization, information, and communication technologies, and the prospect of a ‘global village’: Promises of inclusion or electronic colonization? Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37(1), 65-83.

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