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“Rethinking the Sociological Measurement of Poverty” by Brady Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2021

According to Brady (2003), the official US measure on the poverty index has serious methodological problems. However, US sociologists have been relying on the same data for a long time. This implies that the US measure has several shortcomings that need to be addressed. It is equally surprising that the concerned government agencies have never responded to this obvious anomaly. There are quite several theoretical and methodological procedures that can be used to measure the poverty index even though ignorance seems to be derailing the process. Brady (2003) has proposed several key guidelines that should be adhered to when undertaking any measure on poverty. For instance, there should be an effective measurement of comparative historical variation. In addition, such measures are supposed to be relative instead of being absolute. In most instances, poverty should be conceptualized as social exclusion. State benefits, transfers, and the effect of taxes should also be assessed when measuring the poverty index. However, it may not be a practical procedure to precisely ensure that the latter guidelines are followed. The federal and state authorities can still assess the level of inequality among the US residents who are considered to be poor. In other words, the poverty level can be integrated into the analysis so that a clear picture of the situation is obtained.

Perhaps, one of the strengths of the article is that the criteria discussed by the author have been supported by series of sociological studies. The author has extensively evaluated the past studies on this subject area to compare and contrast the aspect of poverty from different dimensions. We may not conclusively assert that sociology has neglected to adhere to the proper criteria of measuring poverty as claimed by Brady (2003). The actual cause of the anomaly is the mismatch between sociological objectives and guidelines accepted by government agencies from the local, state, and federal levels.

The author proposes three optional poverty indices that can be used to meet the right criteria. These include the sum of ordinals measures, the ordinal measure, and the interval measure. Moreover, the Luxembourg Income Study employed by the author in the research study is indeed instrumental in assessing the three measures as well as the empirical patterns.

It is not the first time when poverty scholarship is raising tension in the field of sociological study. Nonetheless, this does not imply that we are on the right path in terms of poverty measurement. The poverty profile of the African American households was studied by Moynihan way back in 1965. This study attempted to offer detailed data on the actual level of poverty among African American families during that time. However, several scholars around the same period avoided this area of the qualitative research study. As a result, Moynihan’s work was not adequately critiqued either in terms of strengths or weaknesses. As much as Brady (2003) argues that significant empirical findings have been generated by the recent research work on poverty, there are still numerous doubts on whether sociology has experienced true revitalization. The processes of policy formulation and application are still highly bureaucratic and therefore tend to hinder the use of accurate data on poverty measurement. Needless to say, there is widespread acceptance of conventional methodological practices in the sociological measurement and reporting of poverty.

Works Cited

Brady, David. “Rethinking the sociological measurement of poverty.” Social Forces 81.3 (2003): 715-718. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2021. ""Rethinking the Sociological Measurement of Poverty" by Brady." April 24, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/rethinking-the-sociological-measurement-of-poverty-by-brady/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) '"Rethinking the Sociological Measurement of Poverty" by Brady'. 24 April.

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