20 Jun 2022


Poverty-Gans and Mills Prompt

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Over a decade, poverty has been described as the inability of people to meet their basic needs such us food, shelter, education, and clothe. 

Specific groups that benefit from poverty 

According to Gans, there are specific groups that benefit by materializing poverty. The first group is the business people who have climbed the social ladder by providing goods and services that are needed by the poor. Secondly, it is the government which takes advantage of poor by manipulating local as well national policies such as in payment of taxes. People from career such as policemen, lawyers, public health consultants and gambling companies, for instance, public health officers teach the poor on the basics of hygiene and health issues. The middle and upper-class individuals due to the cheap labor provided in the “dirty jobs” they do that the other groups are unwilling to do. Lastly, the economy since the poor will ensure maximum utilization of goods by recycling products hence money is saved which is recycled into the economy. 

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Contemporary functions of poverty 

Poor people are enablers of upward social mobility in that some people have joined the middle class and the upper class by selling goods and services to the poor. It provides for cheap labor for activities that other groups may not be willing to do because they perceive them to be “odd.” Also, poverty promotes the formation of careers that mainly serve the poor e.g. law enforcement officers and gambling companies. In this sense, the poor ensures maximum economic utilization of commodities since they may use commodities that the other upper classes have discarded as a result of being old. Similarly, poverty helps to guarantee the status of the middle class and the rich in that since society has a given standard of living where one is termed poor; the rest will be defined as a middle class or rich thus upholding their statuses. Lastly, it contributes to the country’s culture as many rappers, and hip hop musicians come from poor backgrounds. 

Theoretical perspectives 

The functionalist theory assumes that some jobs are more important than others. The jobs that are more important than others require a lot of talent, experience, and hard work. Thus, the job must be attached to high economic importance so that it can attract people with high talent and considerable skills and qualifications. Thus when people are attracted to such jobs, they are paid much widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The conflict theory asserts that power and domination holds a society in that those who are wealthy repress the poor people by clinging on to their wealth by any way possible. In a society like this, the institutions favor the dominant factions and entities. 

The functionalist theory blames the poor for being poor in that they do not take risks to pursue wealth. For example, some careers may come with a high status and high economic benefits. It is not true since the poor may not have opportunities to pursue their interests due to limiting factors such as funds for school fees even if they had the zeal to read. On the other hand, it is true since a shoe shiner cannot be paid the same salary as a doctor since a doctor does a more important job. 

The conflict theory, on the other hand, holds some truth since many African countries power is concentrated at the top and the government makes policies that favor the dominant hence suppressing the poor. For instance, higher education in the U.S is not free hence the ones who can afford to pay are the ones who take their children to higher institutions while the poor are left with no choice. 

Identifying and providing examples of powerful institutions 

The power elite according to Mills a group of entities which control resources of large organizations hence dictate the social order. They are from a certain social class, intermarry and are protected from effective supervision, for instance, such groups from the media. It is a system of society which has placed responsibility at the hands of several men at the highest social structure who make and influence decisions on the same. He holds that the power elite is the individuals with key positions in the: Economy, Military, and the Government. The same is where power is located. At the bottom is the poor who are politically and economically subjugated by the elite. The corporate worlds' rely on the government for grants, subsidies and tax cuts to function economically. The military through the acquisition of new military hardware for mass destruction has added supremacy and status to those in power. The government makes policies in its favor. It is capitalism as described in the conflict theory. 

Most recently during the economic recession of 2008, the USA government bailed out banks while funds for health services were not provided. Banks have tremendously increased their interest rates to the point that borrowing becomes difficult. The absence of free education in higher institutions at the USA has locked out bright but needy students. 

People in power are closely related to people in the leading corporations thus they pass laws that favor the business people. Huge Companies in the corporate world depend on contracts for the supply of military equipment to the government. Economy growth was influenced by innovations stimulated by the military. 

Considering and providing examples of celebrities’ roles 

Celebrity provides more benefit, status, and power. It distinguishes one from the common population due to characteristics such as beauty and talent. The more you are known, the higher you earn since one attracts many clients, for example in advertising. The more famous one became, the more the people he attracted to their side, and for instance a famous ruler attracted many warriors. In the past, it was not easy to convert celebrity status into wealth. However, with the advent of print media and telecommunications, it is possible to do so. Because of the huge earnings they get, they can venture into businesses. They create a social class of celebrities who interact. The celebrities influence people in ways of speaking, dressing, and habits. The benefits attached to celebrity status create a notion that being a celebrity is cool and many people are striving to achieve it. Celebrities are paid to feature in companies’ adverts making it seem lucrative. 

In the contemporary societies, celebrities influence people regarding their dress code, for example, many people try to wear like models that feature in Hollywood. Coca-Cola recorded great sales from the advert made by Katy Perry. In conclusion, poverty is caused by many factors that have been described above, and it is still useful despite the qualms associated with it. 


Prospect.org/article The Power Elite Now 

www.thirdworldtravellor.com/The higher circles from the book of the power Elite 

www.sociostudies.org/Articles from journals 

understandingsociety.blogspot.co.ke/ Understanding society: Power elites after fifty years 

www.boundless.com/ The conflict perspective 

open.lib.umn.edu/ Sociological perspectives on social problems 

edu/socwelf/readings/week-3/ Is poverty functional. 

People.eou.edu/ Who benefits from poverty? 

www.soc.iastate.edu/ Gans The use of poverty. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Poverty-Gans and Mills Prompt.


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