Marxist Theory on Poverty in Australia Essay

Marxist theory on poverty in Australia In this essay I will describing poverty and its incidence in the Australian context, I also will explain the Marxist theory and its fundamental characteristics analysing the two in relation to one and other. Researchers believe a line should be drawn, the problem of these measures is that they focus exclusively on income. But poverty is also defined through other indicators such as education, health, access to services and infrastructure, vulnerability, social exclusion, access to social capital. (http://www. aph. ov. au/library/INTGUIDE/SP/poverty. htm) Poverty in Australia is most relevant to being relative poverty. “Relative poverty is defined not in terms of lack of sufficient resources to meet basic needs but is about lack of access to the opportunities most people take for granted—food, shelter, income, jobs, education, health services, childcare, transport and a safe place for living and recreation as well as exclusion from social networks and isolation from community life. ” (http://www. australian-options. org. au/issues/options_37/article_37_00004. sp) Poverty in Australia is most relevant to being relative poverty as running water is readily available to most and we have a welfare system for those that are in the lower income bracket. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Poverty_in_Australia) Poverty in Australia is where people have unreasonably low living standards compared with others in the entire community, and when these people are unable to buy necessities. These necessities may include enough food, paying bills/rent, and paying for anything else that falls out of these direct necessities.

Poverty in Australia has reached 2. 5 million. There are high rates of poverty within unemployed people, sole parent families, people with disabilities, indigenous Australians, and some groups of immigrants and refugees. (http://www. australian-options. org. au/issues/options_37/article_37_00004. asp) People living on low incomes report poor health and illness in higher rates than those on higher incomes. This can be due to stress, overcrowded housing, lack of private health insurances; in which long waiting lists are then involved and poor nutrition.

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The cost of nutritionally balanced food items is a contributing factor to why low-income earners (working class) are often poorly nourished or over weight. (Healy, 2002, p. 4) There are many causes for relative poverty in Australia. Losing your job and then finding another during an economic decline may be difficult. When people live week to week on their wage any hiccup can cause great hardship. Unemployment is a major cause of poverty. Many of the working class are unskilled academically or untrained, this narrows their options further.

Costs of housing has a major impact on the working class. Low income earners are most likely unable to pay for a home of their own, however there are high rates on rentals and many are left homeless due to being unable to find affordable rentals. The high expectations of society as a whole effects those low income earners (working class). “To be relatively poor is… to be forced to live on the margins of society, to be excluded from normal spheres of consumption and activity which together define social participation and national identity”.

Peter Saunders, Year Book Australia, 1996,ABS. Structuralist Marxism and critical theory are the two branches of Marxism. Marxist critical theory is the idea that the working class will and should someday revolt against their upper-class oppressors and establish a new government of equality and sharing. (Bessant & Watts, 2007, p. 327) In the past and in the present there has been a constant struggle within social classes. The productive capacity of society is the foundation of society, and as this capacity increases over time the social relations of roduction, class relations, evolve through this struggle of the classes. In capitalist society, an economic minority; upper class (the bourgeoisie) dominate and exploit the working class; lower class (proletariat) majority. These higher class groups are the primary economic power over resources such as land, finance or industrial capital. The working class own nothing but their experience and skill in labour. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Marxism) Essentially Marx believes we should outlaw property of this kind because it sucks the creative essence and nature of man for another’s gain.

Although the production process is socialized, ownership remains in the hand of the bourgeoisie. This forms the fundamental contradiction of capitalist society. (Mcgregor, 1997, p. 8) Marx believed that there shouldn’t be any difference between the different nations of the world. However he believed that all societies are unequal and most people are in weak positions because they are subject to the authority of power people and groups. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Social_class)

Marx also believed that its not peoples ideas that bring change but peoples relationships and activities and that you cant understand human action unless you relate it to people’s position in the class structure. . (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Marxism) Marxism is very relative to poverty in Australia as the higher-class rule and power lies with this ruling class who individually control capital. This inequality of income has remained throughout the century. (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Marxism) Wealth is unequally shared in Australia.

A 1998 distribution of Australia’s household wealth scaled the top ten% of wealth holders own 45% of household wealth, the middle 40% own 48% and the bottom 50% own 7% of Australia’s household wealth. This included various forms of welfare, if only market derived incomes where measured, the inequality would be greater. (Kelly, 2001, p. 15) A study of the 1988 “Who went where in the who’s who? ” found that most people cited had privileged educational backgrounds . 39% of the men and 41% of the women had gone to elite protestant or non-denominational private schools.

It seems that what school you attend reflects what social class you grew up in. A 1994 study found that a quarter of members of all elites had fathers that were business owners or manager, a further quarter had fathers in the profession. (Kuhn & O’Lincoln, 1996, p. 10) Class in Australia is a immense force for social control, it controls who has power over whom in Australian society. These small and powerful elite groups run the nation, and its institutions, and the other 90% of Australians, for their own benefit. Kuhn & O’Lincoln, 1996, p. 8) In conclusion I have described Poverty a major social issue in Australia and outlined Marxist theory including its fundamental characteristics and analysed the two in relation to one another. Finally my perspective on the strengths on understanding this issue is that with the upper class having all the elite education and opportunities, they will continue to exploit the working class and while they can afford the ever-rising rates of basic living there will be poverty in Australia for many years to come.

Much of this depends on the ability of those who wish to oppose the system of the power groups and build their own leaderships both in the trade unions and in politics. There just needs to be revolutionary groups large enough and politically effective enough for leadership for the working class. The weakness for me in understanding this issue is that there are just to many contributing factors to poverty and that I have less understanding about the politics of it and the context of a lot of the literature available on the theory and the issue. References Australian Bureau of Statistics 1980s to 2009 ttp://www. aph. gov. au/library/INTGUIDE/SP/poverty. htm Issues in society, Poverty, volume 170. Class & Class conflict in Australia; Rick Kuhn and Tom O’Lincoln, 1996. Class in Australia; Craig Mc Gregor, 1997. Sociology Australia, third edition; Judith Bessant & Rob Watts, 2007. http://www. dsp. org. au/node/167 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Marxism http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Poverty_in_Australia http://www. melbourneinstitute. com/labour/inequality/poverty/default. html http://www. australian-options. org. au/issues/options_37/article_37_00004. asp http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Social_class


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