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Free Example of Theoretical Explanations of Social Problems Essay

Sociologists have devoted their intellectual attention to the explanation of various social phenomena in the human society.  This paper identifies poverty as one of the social problems that sociologists have attempted to deconstruct. In order to achieve this goal, various perspectives or paradigms have been advanced. These include the structural-functionalism, the conflict perspective and the symbolic interactionist paradigms.

The structural-functionalism perspective explains poverty as a phenomenon that performs an essential function in society. The proponents of this approach, for example, argue that poverty enables people to work hard in business, pursue education or search for well-paying jobs so as to avoid the challenges and labels associated with poverty. On the other hand, the structural functionalists contend that the poor have specific roles in society that would not be performed in their absence. In the absence of the poor and poverty as a phenomenon, social disequilibrium would result. The existence of poverty in society is, thus, an indicator of completeness of society.

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 The conflict perspective, on the other hand, conceptualizes poverty as the consequence of the inequalities caused by the structures created by those in power and the rich. It is such structures that have worked in favor of the wealthy, bourgeoisies, while marginalizing the proletariat. Poverty is, thus, caused by exploitation of the poor by the rich through manipulation of the social structures and environment. For example, the fact that the human society is divided into the various social classes enables the powerful elites to manipulate the social structure in such a way that the fruits of hardworking laborers are harvested by the powerful elites.

Symbolic interactionists view the society as a consequence of human interactions. People acquire new values, attitudes, and beliefs through socialization. In this context, poverty is caused by the social exchanges between various groups of the society. The new attitudes, beliefs and values that are acquired through symbolic interactions reinforce the existence of poverty or creation of new meanings of poverty in the society.

In conclusion, social problems in the society have been explained variously by sociologists. The conflict, structural functionalism and symbolic interactions have all been advanced to explain the concept of poverty in the human society.

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