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April 24, 2018 / C H Thompson

Relative poverty

  • While absolute poverty focuses on the lack of the minimum requirements for survival, relative poverty defines poverty in relation to others creating social exclusion
  • Relative poverty is the lack of resources leading to the inability to participate in the normal social activities.
  • Therefore social exclusion focuses on the broader cultural and social dimensions of poverty in addition to having a low income
  • Townsend (1968) introduced the concept of relative poverty in order to address the weaknesses identified in the absolute definition of poverty listed above.
  • In order to operationalise poverty Townsend created a ‘deprivation index’ (as indicators of what seen as ‘normal’ for an acceptable standard of living)
  • In summary Townsend argument identified examples of poverty apart from income
  • Townsend identified other areas of poverty such as being homelessness; poverty in health-care; poverty in education; stress; low-self-esteem; poverty at work; poor health and social isolation
  • He used a deprivation index to measure relative deprivation to benchmark an acceptable standard of living and found a close link between relative deprivation and low income

Continue to understanding Townsend’s deprivation index


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