Poverty and inequality are two of the most dangerous social evils that hamper the living conditions of people in different parts of the globe. The essay fundamentally highlights these two concerns in the U.K. context and how these elements are linked to psychology and sociology. Over the years, the issues relating to poverty and inequality have got intensified which is affecting the economic health of the nation (Cribb, Keiller & Waters, 2018).
According to the report that was published by Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), the risk of poverty has increased from 15 % to 17 % in the past 6 years in the U.K. Before diving deeper into the subject and understanding their association with psychology and sociology, the essay discusses the meaning of the terms poverty and inequality (Rentoul, 2018).
World Health Organization (WHO) has defined poverty as the condition when individuals or families have a low level of income which is necessary for their sustenance. According to the World Bank, the extreme poverty situation arises when the per capita income of a nation is lower than 1.25 PPP (USD) (Un.org, 2018). Inequality can be defined as the state of “not being equal” in terms of income, status, basic rights and opportunities. The unfair treatment of certain members of society can have an adverse implication on their wellbeing and the way in which they lead their life (Un.org, 2018).
The terms poverty and inequality can be understood in a better way by adopting psychological and sociological perspectives. According to some sociologists, poverty can be said to be the moral failings of people or the dependency on cultural aspects (Shildrick & Rucell, 2015). Other sociologists argue that poverty is the unequal distribution of the available opportunities and resources in the social context. In the U.K., the social class of the people plays a vital role and it influences the opportunity that they get in the social setting (Shildrick & Rucell, 2015).
The social stratification or the way in which the people in the U.K. are classified in the society based on their wealth and power affects their income and the equality or inequality in terms of education, income, and opportunity (UniversalClass.com, 2018). The distinctions in the social class that exist in the U.K. include the upper class, the upper-middle class, the lower middle class, the working class and the lower class. The people belonging to the lower class are the ones who are mainly affected by poverty and inequality. They do not get the opportunities to exploit their skills and capabilities in the social context which affects their moral strength and their overall ability (JRF, 2018).
There is an important association between poverty, inequality and the psychology of the people. As per research findings, significant damage is done to the poor people in the U.K. when they feel poor and incapable of doing something. The weak psychology of the individuals basically increases their level of doubt about themselves which affects their overall morale and confidence to earn their living in a dignified and efficient manner. As per psychological research, poverty has a major impact on human biology at the very genetic level. For example, if a child has experienced poverty since his or her early childhood, it could have a major implication on their cognitive development and neurologic development (JRF, 2018).
The report by Cribb and Keiller highlights how poverty and the difference in the living standards of the people in the U.K. are directly associated with their mental and physical health conditions (Cribb, Keiller & Waters, 2018). In fact, people with longstanding mental health issues are more likely to be living in poverty as compared to people who do not have psychological health issues. Thus poverty and inequality are directly related to psychology and sociology (Studies, 2018).
There exist various differences between psychology and sociology when it comes to poverty and inequality. Based on the social theory, the main focus is on the social aspects of the people such as social exclusion, lack of opportunities, the unavailability of economic resources. The various macro factors that exist in the social context are assessed by adopting the sociological perspective (Yang, 2017, p 5).
The psychological perspective takes a closer look at the issues relating to poverty and inequality by focusing on the mental health and psychological condition of the individuals who face the challenges relating to poverty and inequality. By adopting this approach, the microelements that come into play and influence the mental make-up of the individuals is analysed and evaluated (Yang, 2017, p 6).
In addition to the difference in the psychological and the sociological perspective, there exist various common areas that show that there is an overlap between psychology and sociology as far as poverty & inequality are concerned. According to the publication on “Institute for Fiscal Studies”, people who have been suffering from some kind of mental health condition are more likely to live in poverty as compared to people who have got a healthy mind. Thus the vulnerable mind can ultimately affect the social outcome of the people and the opportunities that they get in the social setting. The study states that poor physical or mental health is linked to long periods of unemployment of people which affect their social life. According to Tom Waters, when the individuals suffering from psychological conditions work, they get on average 23 % less income per week as compared to the individuals who are mentally sound and healthy (Studies, 2018). Thus there exists an overlap between the psychological condition and the social condition of the individuals when it comes to poverty and inequality in the U.K (Studies, 2018).
The essay highlights the issue relating to poverty and inequality in the U.K. context. The relationship that exists between the social evils and psychology and sociology have been thoroughly evaluated. Based on the analysis, it can be stated that there exists an important association between poverty and inequality and the social and psychological condition of the people. In the U.K., poverty and inequality are two of the most concerns that need to be addressed on priority as their implication can be observed not just at the psychological level of the affected individuals but also at the social level of the entire nation.
Cribb, J., Keiller, A. and Waters, T. 2018. Living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK: 2018. [Online] ifs.org.uk. Available at: https://scholar.google.co.in/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&q=+Living+standards%2C+poverty+and+inequality+in+the+UK%3A+2018+Jonathan+Cribb%2C+Agnes+Norris+Keiller+and+Tom+Waters+Report&btnG= [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
JRF. 2018. Sociological perspectives on poverty. [Online] Available at: https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/sociological-perspectives-poverty [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
Rentoul, J. 2018. It feels like poverty and inequality are increasing even though the numbers say they’re not. Here’s why. [Online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/poverty-inequality-uk-incomes-economy-increasing-numbers-statistics-say-not-why-a7581796.html [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
Shildrick, T. and Russell, J., 2015. Sociological perspectives on poverty. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Studies, T. 2018. People with longstanding mental health problems are more than twice as likely to be in poverty as those without a longstanding health problem. [Online] Ifs.org.uk. Available at: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/13090 [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
Un.org. 2018. Concepts of Inequality Development Issues No. 1. [Online] Available at: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/policy/wess/wess_dev_issues/dsp_policy_01.pdf [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
UniversalClass.com. 2018. A Sociological Perspective on Class and Inequality. [Online] Available at: https://www.universalclass.com/articles/psychology/sociological-perspective-on-class-and-inequality.html [Accessed 25 Aug. 2018].
Yang, L., 2017. The relationship between poverty and inequality: Concepts and measurement (No. 205). Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.Order Now