Sociology and Social Movements Essay
Localized collectivities are collectivities whose members are in close physical proximity. More specifically, a crowd is a temporary gathering where people are in one another immediate vicinity so that they influence each other’s behavior and share a common focus of attention. Herbert Blumer (1969) distinguished different types of crowds. 1. Casual crowds occur when people gather in the same place at the same time with limited interaction so that new norms are less likely to emerge and roles are relatively undifferentiated.
People watching street performers or shopping at the mall are a good example of a casual crowd.
2. Conventional crowds occur when a specific event is planned and large numbers of people are scheduled to attend. There is therefore more interaction, specific norms, and role differentiation than in casual crowds. Examples of conventional crowds are parades, funerals, sport events or graduation ceremonies. 3. Expressive crowds occur when large numbers of people gather for the specific purpose of experiencing strong emotions.
Religious revival shows, Mardi Gras celebrations or celebrity funerals are examples of such crowds.
4. Acting crowds occur when a collectivity is strongly focused and anger is the dominant emotion. Such crowds are likely to be destructive and violent. Mobs and riots are examples of acting crowds. Mobs are highly emotional and violent crowds that target specific individuals or categories of individuals. Mob violence is usually motivated by fear, or anger.
A particular example of mob violence is the practice of lynching (Tolnay and Beck, 1998). Studies indicate that approximately 5,000 African Americans were hung in the Southern states between 1880 and 1930. Although mob violence appears disorganized and chaotic, it can also be planned and used as a means of social control to “keep in line” the black population of a community or as resistance to social change, to discourage attempts at challenging the segregationist status quo. The returned “normality” of the ost-lynching is visible as the people on the photo basically “posed” for it (notice the man pointing at the victims as well as the presence of women and couples, as if this were a form of entertainment). Moreover, we know that many lynching photos were made into postcards that people sent to relatives. In the photo, no one seems shocked by what the crowd has done. A few people have smiles on their faces. A riot is a violent form of crowd behavior. However, contrary to a mob, it does not focus on a specific target but is undirected. Riots are more likely to cause property damages than mobs.
When whole categories of people feel unjustly treated, that their needs are ignored, or that their mistreatment is somewhat condoned by the authorities, this usually creates a background of tense frustration and a single event can trigger social unrest. The history of the United States is a history of riots, and especially race riots committed by whites against minorities. Most Americans remember the deadly LA riots in April and May of 1992 that started after the acquittal of four police officers in the Rodney King case, but such a riot was not a first.
There had been other memorable riots in recent American history: the Watts riot of 1965 and the Miami riot of 1980. However, the 1992 Los Angeles riot is still the deadliest and costliest riot to date: 51 dead, 2,383 injured, 700 businesses burned and at least one billion dollars of property damage Why is it forbidden to shout “fire! ” in a crowded theater? Because this would probably start a panic, that is, whether or not there is really a fire, people would start running for the exits quite likely in a disorganized and chaotic manner that would increase the risk of injuries.
When such a panic occurred in Mecca (Islam’s Holy site usually crowded with pilgrims) in 1990, almost 1,500 people died. Crowds can engage in panic whether the threat is real or imagined. Panics, however, require certain circumstances to occur: members of the crowd must believe that not all of them are going to escape, that there is not enough time or that the means of escape are going to be insufficient for all of them. As opposed to localized collectivities, dispersed collectivities involve people who are not in each other’s immediate physical presence but react emotionally to a similar stimulus.
A rumor is unsubstantiated information passed informally from individual to individual without verification (Rosnow and Fine, 1976). Rumors have specific characteristics such as * Rumors are more likely to emerge in a climate of uncertainty when information is scarce but in need so that people will believe whatever is available; * Rumors are not fixed stories, they vary and change as they are passed from individual to individual, several competing versions might emerge; * Rumors are difficult to stop.
Individuals might continue to believe a rumor even when accurate information has been provided (Tannen, 1990). In spite of information available on the topic, thousands of people still believe that a UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947; * Rumors may be central in the development of mobs, riots and panics and other forms of collective behavior; * The mass media and the Internet have accelerated the speed of transmission of rumors. Gossips are rumors regarding specific individuals and their personal lives.
They may be used as a form of social control: praising or shaming certain individuals reinforces conformity to norms of particular groups. Gossips are also a form of entertainment and a very lucrative business; from gossip columnists to publications such as The National Enquirer, the celebrity gossip business has a very large audience. Do you remember the lady that put her poodle in her microwave and then sued the manufacturer because nothing in the instructions said you shouldn’t do something like that? Or you’ve certainly heard about the “Kentucky Fried Rat” story.
These stories and others have been very popular but they are all false, but, like rumors, they persist. Certain urban legends can be disseminated by the media, as in the claims of large numbers of children kidnapped by satanic cults to participate in rituals and be sacrificed. Such urban legends can spark another form of mass behavior: mass hysteria. Mass hysteria is a fairly rare type of collective behavior where a dispersed collectivity reacts emotionally and irrationally to a real or perceived threat. An often-mentioned example of mass hysteria is the Orson Welles’s radio broadcast of H.
G. Welles’s “The War of the World” in 1938 (Cantril, 1940). Although it had been mentioned at the beginning of the broadcast that the program was fictional, some people reacted as if such the Martian invasion was really happening. Although it is a popular example of mass hysteria, it concerned far fewer people than is usually believed. Collectivities are more likely to react emotionally and irrationally when there is a general lack of information about a phenomenon. This creates a state of anxiety where individuals are more likely to engage in mass hysteria.
In the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, not much was known about the disease except that it was obviously infectious and deadly, and, it seemed to spread among unpopular categories of the population (homosexuals and IV drug users). In some communities, infected children were driven out of school for fear that they might infect others through casual. Mass hysteria is very similar to panics except that it tends to last longer and can be spread by the mass media, as in the case of alleged sex abuse in daycare centers in the 1980s.
Did you collect beanie babies or do you remember the pet rocks or people spending entire nights playing Trivial Pursuit? All these are examples of fads, a form of collective behavior where large numbers of people enthusiastically embrace some activity or object for a short period of time. It often seems that fads emerge out of nowhere and abruptly disappear as fast they appeared without generating a long-term. Fads are strongly related to the western culture of mass consumption and they all involve the massive buying of useless objects or products that lose any value as soon as the fad is over.
Fads that had disappeared sometimes reappear briefly and are embraced enthusiastically again also for a short period of time as in the case of disco music that originally emerged in the 1970s and again in the late 1990s. This phenomenon is usually called nostalgia. Fashion refers to styles of appearance, thinking or behavior valued at a given point in time in a society and followed by large numbers of people. If fads seem to appear out of nowhere, fashion trends appear in the upper classes as they involve luxury consumption.
Fashion is often used as a marker of social distinction and good taste. To wear the right clothes and driving the right car are symbols of affluence, success and distance from necessity. When a given fashion trends climbs down the social ladder to the lower class, the style becomes out-of-fashion, the upper classes move on to the next trend (although the blue jean is an example of fashion starting in the working class). Fashion tends to last longer than fads and to disappear more gradually. Crazes are similar to fads in that they involve massive and rapid consumption and end abruptly.
However, in a craze, profit is the major motive. As a result, prices for the desired objects will rise dramatically and will fall just as rapidly when it is over. A recent example of a craze was the high-tech stock boom of the late 1990s. Large numbers of people purchased such stocks hoping for short-term profit. High-tech stocks became over-valued (reached a higher stock price that their actual market value) in what became known as a “bubble. ” In the early 2000s, the “bubble burst” and these stocks lost value considerably.
If you watch the news regularly, you have probably been bombarded by all sorts of different polls and surveys that are supposed to reflect public opinion on current issues. Public opinion includes widespread ideas, attitudes and beliefs communicated to the decision-makers via polls and surveys to be taken into account in political decisions. Measuring public opinion is so important that all political parties, government and businesses use polls and surveys and multiple institutes exist dedicated exclusively to this task.
However, do polls and surveys truly reflect the public’s positions on current issues? In a society like the United States where mass media is omnipresent, people’s opinions are very likely to be influenced and shaped by what they see on television or read in the newspapers. Numerous studies have shown that the mass media are not neutral in the way they present information, and what they present as “hot topics” is more likely to be on the minds of individuals when they answer polls and surveys.
Some analysts do not hesitate to use the expression “propaganda” to describe the works of the mass media. Propaganda is any information designed to actively shape and influence public opinion. In Germany, in the 1930s, the Nazis made strong use of the mass media to raise support for their policies. Similarly, communist governments such as the former USSR and China strongly controlled (and continue to do so in the case of China) the media to convey to the masses only and exclusively what they wanted them to see.
However, if totalitarians governments have a specific interest in strictly controlling information, even in democracies, governments and businesses constantly try to influence public opinion, as was visible in the US media in the run-up to the United States campaign in Iraq. In other words, there is no such thing as public opinion free of influence. b) Why do social movements arise? In social movements, large groups of people who are usually without political power and influence decide to promote or resist social change through unconventional means.
They identify a problem, determine that responsible parties are failing to address it adequately, and therefore take action, themselves. To be more efficient, participants structure their activities into social movement organizations (SMOs). SMOs share the goals of the social movement and work toward these goals. For instance, the environmental social movement structured formal organizations such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, or Earth First!. SMOs may specialize on different aspects of the movement’s cause such as fundraising, lobbying or organizing grassroots campaigns.
Social movements are more widespread in industrialized nations because diverse populations are less bound by larger societal traditions and customs. Sub cultural and countercultural movements abound, and conflicts of interests between groups are inevitable. Conflicts arise when demands for social change by certain groups spark contrary demands to maintain the status quo by other groups. According to Sidney Tarrow (1994), most societies experience times when social movements are rare and other times when many social movements emerge to promote social change in what he calls “waves of protest. Such waves of protest can be sparked by any form of social disorganization provoked by war, economic recession, political crises, technological innovations or rapid population change (such as the Baby Boom). The 1930s and 1960s were such periods of massive social changes and waves of protest in the United States and Western Europe. In the 1930s, the Great Depression caused poverty for large numbers of workers. Dreadful economic conditions launched numerous social movements to promote legislation (such as regulations of the stock market and labor laws) and changes in the social structure.
In contrast, the 1960s were a period of economic affluence for the United States, yet conflicts were pervasive and promoted the rise of social movements such as the anti-war movement, the women’s rights movement, the Civil Rights movement or the emerging gay rights movement to name the most important. Economic prosperity freed people from basic survival issues, and they concerned themselves more with issues of social justice. Such movements were at least partially successful but also sparked the counter-movement called the “conservative revolution” that culminated with the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1981.
More recently, waves of protest have emerged on issues regarding the economic, social and political consequences of globalization. In other words, social movements are organized responses to social, economic and political conditions where excluded groups experience strain, feel a sense of unfairness, but do not necessarily have access to channels of power that would allow them to find satisfactory resolutions to their perceived issues. Relative deprivation theory, developed by Denton Morrison (1971) is a more general theory about why individuals join social movements.
A person experiences relative deprivation when she feels that she is not receiving her “fair share” of what seems to be available. Therefore, the people who are the worst off are not necessarily the ones experiencing relative deprivation. For instance, research in the Civil Rights movement showed that African Americans who were the most active were not most deprived but were fairly well-off, such as college students or religious leaders but they were the ones who felt the most relatively deprived.
In 1973, Anthony Oberschall published Social Conflict and Social Movements in which he formulated the Resource Mobilization Theory focusing on the social and structural factors affecting a movement’s success or failure rather than the factors motivating people to join social movements. Oberschall points out that relative deprivation cannot fully explain social movements because there is no perfect society that satisfies all its citizens. Discontent is a common feature. For Oberschall, the key factor in a social movement’s success or failure is its capacity to mobilize and efficiently manage resources.
Resources include things such as money, offices, communication equipment (fax, telephones), computers, volunteer time, media access, network contacts, and alliances. Such resources are usually acquired and managed by social movement organizations (SMOs). SMO efficiency is crucial to the success of the social movement. Social movements cannot succeed without help from participants and outsiders. Oberschall identifies categories of people (human resources) that can be mobilized for the social movement. Political process theory focuses rather on macro-sociological issues that make social movements possible.
For McAdam, economic and especially political factors are central to the emergence of social movements. More specifically, McAdam identifies three of such factors: * Organizational strength: the more organized a group is, the more likely its members are to form a social movement and the more likely the movement will succeed; * Cognitive liberation: the more members think their chances of success are good, the more likely they are to make their movement will succeed; * Political opportunities: the more mainstream political allies a social movement has, the more likely it will succeed.
For McAdam, availability of these three factors depends on the political system as a whole. Political connections are more crucial than material resources, and political leverage is the major resource for a social movement’s success The New Social Movements Theory emerged at the end of the 1960s to account for changes in the composition, focus and strategies in some social movements in the Western world New social movements themselves are a response to the massive social changes brought about by globalization.
New social movements are diverse but share common features. c) How do social movements bring about change? Looking back at the history of the United States, there is no doubt that social movements have played an enormous part in shaping this country and its culture and continue to do so; recently, for instance, the gay rights movement has scored legal, political and cultural victories, not just in the United States but in other Western countries as well. Sodomy laws have been declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court, the state of Vermont voted to legalize domestic partnerships, as have several western European countries. At the same time, there is also the emergence of a counter-movement as religious right groups oppose such changes. Such changes underline the fact that, for the most part, in democratic societies different groups have the power to influence their institutions and the culture of their countries in different ways — providing that they are organized to do so and understand the system (legal, political, cultural, and economic) in which they operate.
There is also no doubt that the process of globalization is shaping the way social movements organize and the type of social movements that emerge out of this radical process of change. Religious fundamentalist movements are on the rise worldwide precisely as a reactionary response to sweeping cultural changes. Environmental and women’s rights movements have broadened their scope to promote progressive changes. 2. In what respects do some recent social movements (e. g. the environment, animal rights) differ from the older crusades (e. g. he right of workers to form unions or the right of women to vote). The most noticeable feature of new social movements is that they are primarily social and cultural and only secondarily, if any, political. Departing from the worker’s movement, which was central to the political aim of gaining access for the working class with the extension of citizenship and representation, new social movements such as youth culture movement concentrate on bringing about social mobilization through cultural innovations, development of new life-styles and transformation of identities.
It is clearly elaborated by Hebermas that new social movements are the ‘new politics’ which is about quality of life, individual self-realization and human rights whereas the ‘old politics’ focus on economic, political, and military security. This can be exemplified in the gay liberation, the focus of which broadens out from political issue to social and cultural realization and acceptance in life-styles of homosexuality. Hence, new social movements are understood as new because they are first and foremost social.
New social movements also give rise to a great emphasis on the role of post-material values in contemporary and post-industrial society as opposed to conflicts over material resources. According to Melucci, one of the leading new social movement theorists, these movements arise not from relations of production and distribution of resources but within the sphere of reproduction and the life world, as a result of which, the concern has shifted from the sole production of economic resources directly connected to the needs for survival or for reproduction to cultural production of social relations, symbols and identities.
In other words, the contemporary social movements are rejections of the materialistic orientation of consumerism in capitalist societies by questioning the modern idea that links the pursuit of happiness and success closely to growth, progress and increased productivity and by promoting alternative values and understandings in relation to the social world.
As an example, the environmental movement that has appeared since the late 1960s throughout the world, with its strong points in the United States and Northern Europe, has significantly brought about a ‘dramatic reversal’ in the ways we consider the relationship between economy, society and nature, Further, new social movements are located in civil society or the cultural sphere as a major arena for collective action rather than instrumental action in the state, which Claus Offe characterizes as ‘bypass the state’.
Moreover, with its little concern to directly challenge the state, new movements are regarded as anti-authoritarian and resisted incorporation in institutional levels. They tend to focus on single issue, or a limited range of issues connected to a single broad theme such as peace and environment. Without the attempt to develop a total politics under a single focus, new social movements set their stress on grass-roots in the aim of representing the interests of marginal or excluded groups.
Paralleled with this ideology, the organization form of new collective actions is also locally based, centered on small social groups and loosely held by personal or informational networks such as radios, newspapers and posters. This ‘local- and issue-centered’ characteristic which does not necessarily require a highly agreed ideology or agreement on ultimate ends makes these new movements distinctive from the ‘old’ labor movement with a high degree of tolerance of political and ideological difference appealing to broader sections of population.
Additionally, if old social movements namely the worker’s movement presupposed a working –class base and ideology, the new social movements are presumed to draw from a different social class base, that is, ‘the new class’, as a complex contemporary class structure that Claus Offe identifies as ‘threefold’: the new middle class, elements of the old middle class and peripheral groups outside the labor market.
As stated by Offe, the new middle class in association with the old one is evolved in the new social movements because of their high levels of education and their access to information and resources that lead to the questions of the way society is valued; the group of people that are marginal in terms of labor market such as students, housewives and the unemployed participate in the collective actions as a consequence of their disposable resource of time, their position in the receiving end of bureaucratic control and disability to be fully engaged in the society based on employment and consumption.
The main character in old social movements, the industrial working class, nonetheless, is absent here in the class base of new social mobilizations. Set 10 1. a) What share of the world‘s people live in absolute poverty? Absolute poverty can be defined as the minimal requirements a human being needs to survive (Newman, M. , D. , 2009) Different societies will have different conceptions of this necessary minimum. It also involves people and their children having extreme difficulty in merely surviving. Such poverty at its worst can involve hunger amounting to starvation, often combined with inadequate shelter or housing and clothing.
Absolute poverty has been common in more ancient societies, and is still common in many Third World countries in Africa, Asia and South America especially where it can afflict the majority of the population. As for the current share of the world’s people who live in absolute poverty, ever since 1981 to 2004, almost 17 million people are living with under $ 1 per day. (Chen, S. , Ravallion, M. , 2007) b) Why are some of the World’s countries so rich and others are so poor? The fact is that we live in a world of inequality, and the gap between rich countries and poor countries is growing as measured by some statistics.
According to a recent World Bank study, the average income in the 20 richest countries is 37 times the average income in the 20 poorest countries – and that gap has doubled in the past 20 years (Firebaugh, G. , 2002) Why is it that some countries have grown spectacularly rich while others remain miserably poor? The reasons include, but are not limited to, history, geography, culture, politics, and probably random facts. David Landes (2002) notes that historically, hot countries have been poorer than cold countries.
Tropical climates breed diseases such as malaria, leprosy, African river blindness, and parasites that invade and weaken bodies. Heat itself saps energy. Cold, is conducive to greater human productivity and therefore prosperity. However, the climate effect on the wealth of nations may be diminishing as the “knowledge economy” becomes more important, and as medical technology eradicates diseases. Singapore, with a hot, tropical climate, today has a higher per capita income than Britain. War and corruption cause poverty, as governments redirect resources from health care and education towards the war machine, or to lining their own pockets.
So does using the talents and productivity of only half the population: countries in which women are badly oppressed are nearly always poor. Today, a combination of AIDS, which kills millions of people in their most productive years, the burden of debt (some countries spend up to half of their national budgets in servicing old loans), falling commodity prices (coffee prices alone have fallen by more than 60 percent since 1997), global trade rules that are skewed against developing countries, as well as drought and other natural disasters, are preventing millions of people from escaping poverty.
One billion people are hungry most of the time. Around the world 113 million children, two-thirds of them girls, do not go to school. In the wake of last year’s September 11 attacks on the United States there is a growing recognition by world leaders that the gap between rich and poor is unsustainable. Poverty and inequality provide fertile ground for the rise of fundamentalism. Failed states threaten global stability. But what can be done? In the last half-century developed countries have given the equivalent of a trillion US dollars in economic assistance to poor countries, yet many of the recipients remain desperately poor.
Corrupt and incompetent governments have frittered away money meant to provide health and education to their people, or spent it on weaponry. Well-intentioned development projects have sometimes done more harm than good. However, there have also been many cases where aid has worked. Since the 1960s countries as diverse as Korea, Botswana, Thailand and Chile have used aid and expertise from overseas to help them industrialize. No doubt that trade, rather than aid, is the most efficient means of achieving economic growth. But to benefit everyone, trade needs to be fair as well as free.
The US, Europe and Japan spend $350 billion a year on subsidies for their farmers, which is seven times more than they give in overseas aid. Oxfam Community Aid Abroad estimates that if Africa had just one per cent more of the global export market, it would receive an extra $US70 billion in income a year, five times as much as it now receives in aid and debt relief combined. Aid does need to be better directed and monitored. It also needs to focus on such basics as health and education, and to make use of local knowledge.
Recent studies show aid works better when given to countries that already have reasonable governance and economic policies. Yet there is little use in lecturing countries in which the population is dying of hunger or AIDS on the need to open their markets and become more competitive. Chronic hunger stunts brains as well as bodies, ensuring children will never reach their full potential. People who are sick and weak from lack of food do not march in the streets demanding the overthrow of undemocratic governments.
Some countries need aid, and a great deal of it, before they can even begin the process of development. While birth rates are declining in rich countries, the populations of the world’s least developed nations are expected to triple over the next 50 years. Global stability is one important reason why rich countries should strive to raise the living standards of people in the most poverty-stricken countries. An even more important reason is our shared humanity. c) How do rich nations affect global poverty? Rich nations ultimately impoverish low income countries and poorer nations by making them dependent on them.
This reflects on the dependency theory that was developed in response to Modernization theory out of sheer criticism of the latter theory by the supporters of Dependency theory. Dependency theory can be defined as a theory of international relations that important countries influence other countries as a result of their economic power (PoliticsDictionary. com, n. d. ) Dependency theory is a theory of how developing and developed nations interact. It can be seen as an opposition theory to the popular free market theory of interaction.
Dependency theory was first formulated in the 1950s, drawing on a Marxian analysis of the global economy, and as a direct challenge to the free market economic policies of the post-War era. The free market ideology holds, at its most basic, that open markets and free trade benefit developing nations, helping them eventually to join the global economy as equal players. The belief is that although some of the methods of market liberalization and opening may be painful for a time, in the long run they help to firmly establish the economy and make the nation competitive at the global level.
Dependency theory, in contrast, holds that there are a small number of established nations that are continually fed by developing nations, at the expense of the developing nations’ own health. These developing nations are essentially acting as colonial dependencies, sending their wealth to the developed nations with minimal compensation. In dependency theory, the developed nations actively keep developing nations in a subservient position, often through economic force by instituting sanctions, or by proscribing free trade policies attached to loans granted by the World Bank or International Monetary Fund.
Dependency theory was incredibly popular during the 1960s and 1970s, when the free market policies of development theory seemed to have led much of the developing world to the brink of economic collapse. In the 1990s, with the rising success of countries such as India and Thailand, dependency theory lost some support, as it appeared development theory may indeed have been working. These days, although not as popular as in its heyday, dependency theory is nonetheless widespread in progressive circles, particular among groups working on alternative modes of capitalism in the developing world.
Dependency theory also posits that the degree of dependency increases as time goes on. Wealthy countries are able to use their wealth to further influence developing nations into adopting policies that increase the wealth of the wealthy nations, even at their own expense. At the same time, they are able to protect themselves from being turned on by the developing nations, making their system more and more secure as time passes.
Capital continues to migrate from the developing nations to the developed nations, causing the developing nations to experience a lack of wealth, which forces them to take out larger loans from the developed nations, further indebting them. 2. What are the differences between relative poverty and absolute poverty? Describe global social stratification using both concepts. Social inequality is most obvious and alarming from a global standpoint. While people as a whole in the United States and other rich nations tend to be over nourished, over 800 million peoples’ lives worldwide are at risk due to poverty.
Fifteen million people die each year due to starvation. Lessening hunger is a very serious responsibility and an urgent need. In order to make sense of our discussion of global stratification we will categorize countries into three classes; most industrialized; industrializing and least industrialized. The most industrialized countries are capitalist. Their poor live better and longer than the average citizens in the least industrialized nations. These high-income countries cover one-fourth of the world’s land area and have 15% of the world’s population. They take in about 55 percent of the total world income.
Poor countries, although lacking in industrial capacity, frequently export and incur debt to these industrialized countries. People in industrializing nations have a much lower income and standard of living than those who live in the most industrialized nations. Many in these countries lack access to indoor plumbing and electricity. They take in about 37 percent of the world’s total income. The rest of the world (about 68 percent of world population) comprises the least industrialized nations. They earn about eight percent of the global income. Economic production is owest in these countries and their high birth rates and growing populations, plus their traditional rural life in farms or villages contributes to their low standard of living. Stated another way, the wealthiest 20 percent of the global population receives 70 percent of the global income, while the poorest 20 percent of the global population receives 2 percent of the global income. Some sociologists think that rich countries hold the key to improving the situations of the poor. Others think that rich countries have actually contributed to the dismal situation of some countries.
Theories regarding global poverty include dependency theory and modernization theory. Dependency theory states that inequality occurs between nations because rich nations exploit poor ones first through colonialism and now through neocolonialism. Critics say this approach denies the fact that many nations have been successful in their own creation of wealth. They also say that poorest societies actually have fewer ties with rich nations than do moderately well off societies. Modernization theory is based on the belief that societies constantly evolve to a higher status.
Modernization theory states that some countries have failed to modernize due to lack of technology and traditional barriers. Modernization theory assumes that aid from rich countries is key to ending poverty in small countries. Population control programs, food producing technologies, exporting industrial technology, and supplying foreign aid are the answer, according to the proponents of this theory. Critics say that this approach has had limited success. They believe that it is ethnocentric to assume that these countries must be like developed countries and that this modernization will work for them.
As in the United States, children are the poorest population worldwide, closely followed by women. The implications of child poverty are many: malnourishment and early death, child prostitution, drug use, pregnant children, and the continuing cycle of poverty. Gender bias is more pronounced in agrarian societies and women are most likely to be uneducated, overworked, and paid extremely low wages. In the article “Women’s Poverty in Africa,” Topouzis discusses the dramatic situation of the feminization of poverty in Africa.
While some are beginning to recognize this problem, African women still remain in pink collar jobs, earn meager earnings if they earn them, remain illiterate, and suffer from high maternal and infant death rates. Many houses are female headed and thus suffer doubly from their mother’s lack of education and inability to make at least subsistence wages (Toupozis, 1990). Toupozis also points out that alarmingly, school girls’ enrollment rates are declining. Lack of education can only continue to doom these girls to their mothers’ lives of hard labor.