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Social problems: Who makes them?
Social problems: Who makes them?

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3 Tracing the deposits

3.1 Competing explanations of social problems

If we can agree that poverty is a social problem, we are led to another question: what sort of social problem is it? For some, it is a social problem because people should not be poor: it involves social injustice. For others, poverty is a social problem because poor people behave badly (or bring up children poorly): it involves social disorder. We therefore have another parting of the ways, with some believing that social justice requires poor people to become less poor, and others believing that poor people need to be made better people. In part, this split between justice and order reflects different common-sense views of why poor people are poor. We would suggest that it is possible to see at least three different conceptions of the causes of poverty underlying the list of comments following Activity 2: poverty is natural/inevitable; poverty is the result of poor people; poverty is the result of economic and/or political causes.