The Uses Of Poverty: The Poor Pay All
Herbert J. Gans
There is much more to poverty than having to "tighten your belt". In fact, sociologists that have studied the poor have found that they are faced with such dangerous and damaging social conditions that within their subculture there is a higher divorce rate, more frequent health problems, a higher rate of school dropouts, and a higher rate of crime.
As sad and horrible as this may seem, poverty has a number of functions in our society. Associating poverty with positive functions seems at first to be unimaginable. However, the author, Gans, helps to shed some light on exactly how the poor can help satisfy a number of positive functions for the many nonpoor groups in America.
Thirteen such functions are discussed in such areas as economic, social, and political aspects. These 13 functions can be said to be the most significant functions of poverty in American society.
1.)With the existence of poverty, society's "dirty-work" will be done. This is the physically dangerous or dirty, dead-end, menial jobs that exist in every society that nobody really would choose to have. The poor have no other choice than to take these jobs at low wages. Many businesses and companies actually depend on the poor to do so. Such places of business include restaurants, hospitals and factories. Many of these places could not exist or flourish without the existence of poverty.
2.)Because the poor are required to work at such low wages, they subsidize a variety of economic activities that benefit the affluent. An example of this would be doing domestic work for the upper class. Another example would be the poor being used as "guinea pigs" in medical experimentation.
3.)The existence of poverty creates and ensures jobs for those who provide...