Friday, June 12, 2015

Poverty is a problem of the System!

Poverty is a problem of the System!

By: Juan Felipe González-Jácome

In 1990´s, the countries that composed de United Nations, signed a document that was called the “Millennium Development Goals”. This document was a commitment made by the Sates in order to work “together” in the eradication of poverty for 2015; it mean, that the countries would have around of 15 years to overcome the misery of the planet and construct and equal society (, 2014). However, as the statistics of the world bank shows, this objectives are so far of been achieved, according to this entity, for 2015, there were going to exist around of 1 billion of people living in “extreme poverty” and around 2.2 billion are going to continue living in (as they call in a euphemistic way) “high poverty”, which means, life with more than 1.25 US$ but less than 2 US$ per day. (, 2014) This scenario, put as in a very contradictory position which had cause an interesting controversy in the academic research; in order to answer the question of how can we solve the problem of the poverty? First it is imperative to give explanations of which are the causes or the origins of the poverty as an objective social phenomenon? In that order, some perspectives about the problem, explain the poverty as physiological issue (subjective theory), in the way that this social position is engender by the culture of poverty which is a clear obstacle to succeed. In juxtaposition of that idea, there is a perspective that explain poverty as an essential problem of our socio-economic system (objective theory), in the way that it is necessary to produce and reproduce its systemic bases. This essay is going to explain why the poverty is an objective phenomenon of our society rather than a subjective problem of people.

To start it is necessary to make a synthesis of the most important aspects of the subjective approach of the poverty. This theory tents to extract tree elements that define why people tend to be poor, those elements are. 1) The problem of the attitudes and behavior, 2) the social consciousness and 3) the generic concept of the culture of poverty. According to what these ideas argued, poor people acquire in the social media a series of social pathologies that means realities of disorganization, lack of public opinion and communitarian institutions. (Valentine, 1970, pág. 31) For solving those issues, it is proposed a systematic change of the values that govern the people that live in poverty, for that, it is advisable to spread some solutions that have been created by the same system. 1) the culture of the entrepreneurship against the culture of poverty; 2) change the behavior that hump the "successfulness", and 3) in relation with the previous solution, the methods of how triumphing in life.

As it is revealed, the subjective theory implies a rationalization of the systemic effects, “blaming the poorness of their own poverty” (Ibid. page 26).   

By contrast, the objective theory, tend to give a different point of view to the problem of the poverty. First, this approach explains that the poverty is a social phenomenon caused by a structural system. “Poor countries are poor because these who have the power make choices that create poverty. They get it wrong not by mistake or ignorance but on purpose” (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012, pág. 68). As cited, the poverty is not just a mistake; it is an objective reality that has to be explained by the objective relations that are involved in our social lives. Now, by which conditions are social relations govern? For solving that question, is important to take account that the poverty involves not just an economical issue, also involves a political issue, in that order of ideas, the conclusion of Jung Mo Sung is that our society relations are govern by the rules of the market. Those rules are not only an economic instrument; they are in their essence a pattern of social development, in other words, the market is the most important relation in the capitalism system.

What Mo Sung (1993) exposed, is that one of the most important characteristic of the poverty is the impossibility of people to satisfy it necessities. This reality is engendered in the way that our system only work in order to satisfy the desire of the consumers, but not the necessities of the human beings. In fact, this ontology of our socioeconomic system is the responsible of the social exclusion an, in direct way, the responsible of the poverty (Mo Sung, 1993, pages. 87-88).

In the way that the objective theory of poverty pretends to explain this phenomenon as an objective reality of our society, also understand that the solutions have to emerge by the same objectiveness of that reality. In the way that the poverty is not a circumstantial episode of our system, but is a structural phenomenon of it; is imperative to assume the importance of the politics in the solution of the macro-social issue. “Achieving prosperity depends on solving some basic political problems. Explaining world inequality still needs economics to understand how different types of policies and social arrangements affect economic incentives and behavior. But also needs politics” (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012, page. 69).
We conclude in this way, that people does not cause poverty to themselves because their beliefs and attitudes (as the subjective approach argued). People live in poverty because the socioeconomic system is based on unequal social relations, in which the capacity of ones implies the misery of others; as was explained, to eradicate the poorness, it is important to have political consciousness to think appropriate solutions for the problem, solutions that include real social policies of redistribution, sustainable production, and democratization of the economy on its vital cycles (production, circulation, consume, and services). The potentiality of our society has to be use in function of the humanity, but not as an instrument of the destructive power of the selfishness.    


Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. (2012). Why Nations Fail. United States of America: Crown Business.

Galeano, E. (1999). Una mirada a la escuela del crimen. En R. Vega, Neoliberalismo: Mito y Realidad (págs. 113-134). Bogotá D.C.: Pensamiento Crítico.

Mo Sung, J. (1993). Neoliberalismo y Pobreza. San José de Costa Rica: Editorial DEI., U. N. (s.f.). We can end Poverty. Recuperado el 14 de Noviembre de 2014, de United Nations:

Valentine, C. (1970). La Cultura de la Pobreza. Buenos Aires: University of Chicago Press., W. B. (08 de October de 2014). Poverty Overview. Recuperado el 14 de November de 2014, de World Bank:

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