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Poverty Impact on Life Perception Essay

How Do the Poor Consider Risks in the Life Choices They Make?

Poverty is typically viewed as an extraordinarily damaging environment not only because of the unavailability of numerous essential resources or the lack of employment opportunities, studying, and, therefore, future financial success. It is also the mind frame of people living behind the poverty threshold that affects their condition. Particularly, how poor people see risks needs to be addressed. Because of the fear of losing the little that they own, poor people develop the propensity to avoid risks and, thus, prefer not to take chances in the scenarios that do not imply immediately and doubtless gain (Carvalho, Meier, Wang, 2016). Furthermore, the risks associated with health, war, and terrorism, etc., are viewed as the issues of major concern for people living in poverty.

Rajen Makhijani: Middle and Upper Classes Do Not Understand the Poor. Social Class Effect

The specified attitude represents a striking contrast to how high- and middle-class citizens define risk. Enjoying significantly greater security, members of the middle class do not typically view the risks associated with health and economic stability as something that they can lose instantly. As a result, members of the middle class tend to be more decisive in their life choices. Not being afraid that a sudden change will turn out to be not only disruptive but also destructive to their well-being, people from the middle-class tier prefer to take risks if they see an opportunity for the further development and growth. Consequently, unlike poor people, middle-class citizens have more opportunities for personal and professional growth (Mader, 2015).

It would be erroneous to claim that representative of the middle-class view risk solely as an opportunity for a potential gain. Instead, members of the middle class tend to assess key factors carefully before choosing whether to dismiss a particular challenge or accept it (Rocha, Rocha, & Rocha, 2015). Poor people, in contrast, have the propensity to avoid risks at all costs. Seeing that an ability to participate in risk-taking also requires substantial skills, such as the ability to assess relevant challenges and opportunities, it could also be argued that it is the lack of education opportunities and professional growth that prevents people living below the poverty threshold to accept risks as a chance to succeed (Dubois, Rucker, & Galinsky, 2015).

Sense of Purpose and Wealth

It could also be argued that wealth is linked to a sense of purpose to a considerable extent. It is often assumed that wealthy people’s lives are less purpose-driven than those of poor people. On the one hand, the availability of resources makes any further effort pointless. As a result, a wealthy person may be deprived of the experience of a triumph that follows a successful endeavor. On the other hand, the sense of purpose may be difficult to achieve for someone who struggles to sustain their life and, therefore, does not have the opportunity to focus on their spiritual growth (Benabou, Ticchi, & Vindigni, 2015).

How would the Major Sociological Theories (Conflict Perspective, Functionalism, Symbolic Interactionism, Feminism) Explain the Existence of Slums? Which Theory Do You Believe Offers the Best Explanation? Why?

Conflict Perspective

Conflict Theory implies that poverty is a direct outcome of inequality and social stratification (Turner, 2016). The specified theory suggests that moving toward a different social structure will allow eradicating poverty (Turner, 2016). Connecting economic concerns to social issues, the specified theory also provides a profound explanation for the persistence of slums as a result of prejudices that still thrive in modern society.


Based on the tenets of Functionalism, slums exist due to the imperfections in the social and economic systems of contemporary society. It is assumed that, with the introduction of an improved and more efficient system, the environment in which poverty and, thus, slums will be eradicated, will become a possibility (Turner, 2016). The Functionalist approach plays a much heavier emphasis on the social constituent of the problem.

Symbolic Interactionism

The approach of Symbolic Interactionism, in turn, requires to introspect into relationships between members of society. Similar to the Conflict Theory perspective, it views a social factor as the key reason for the problem (Turner, 2016). However, Symbolic Interactionism delves into the effects that stratification has on relationships within society (Turner, 2016).


The Feminist Theory helps view the phenomenon of poverty through the lens of gender relationships. Therefore it addresses the issue of gender inequality. Particularly, the specified theoretical framework allows exploring the problem of gender-defining the chances to receive education, be employed, and have chances for further career development. Although the identified framework also embraces socio-cultural issues, it focuses primarily on gender relationships, thus, limiting the analysis to the obstacles faced by a specific demographic. Nevertheless, it must also be regarded as a legitimate framework given the issues faced by women because of gender inequality (Turner, 2016).

Best Explanation

Choosing between the theories listed below to provide a comprehensive explanation of the roots of poverty, one must give credit to the Social Conflict Theory as the perspective from which poverty can be viewed in the greatest detail and, therefore, analyzed respectively. The suggested approach helps study the issue of poverty through the lens of complex socioeconomic relationships. As a result, a profound exploration of the issue is provided. The specified theory sheds light on the effects of discrimination against all vulnerable populations, i.e., helps identify gender-, race-, and class-related concerns within a particular society. Therefore, the Social Conflict Theory may be used as the platform for implementing changes that will eventually make slums cease to exist and, instead, help create a community where people are provided with equal opportunities.


Benabou, R., Ticchi, D., & Vindigni, A. (2015). Web.

Carvalho, L. S., Meier, S., & Wang, S. W. (2016). Poverty and economic decision-making: Evidence from changes in financial resources at payday. American Economic Review, 106(2), 260-284.

Dubois, D., Rucker, D. D., & Galinsky, A. D. (2015). Social class, power, and selfishness: When and why upper and lower class individuals behave unethically. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 108(3), 436.

Mader, P. (2015) The financialisation of poverty. In P. Mader, The political economy of microfinance: Financializing poverty (pp. 78-120). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rocha, A. R. C., da Rocha, A., & Rocha, E. (2016). Classifying and classified: An interpretive study of the consumption of cruises by the “new” Brazilian middle class. International Business Review, 25(3), 624-632.

Turner, S. (2016). American sociology: From pre-disciplinary to post-normal. New York, NY: Springer.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Poverty Impact on Life Perception'. 23 September.

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