Affects of Poverty into Childhood
We have seen that poverty has long term effects on children and families. Unemployment not only affects the family at the time that the main breadwinners are unemployed but as the Report Child Development and Family Income shows there are consequences for the children when the reach adulthood. This has very important consequences for society in general as well as for individuals
Poverty is a good illustration of C Wright Mills' concept of ‘private troubles and public issues'
C Wright Mills
- Private troubles - are events which happen to an individual and which affect only that individual and those immediately around them.
For example if my cat died that is a private trouble that affects only my family.
- Public issues - are the broader issues which are to do with large scale social institutions, social groups and whole societies.
Using the example of the death of my cat, if my cat died from rabies that becomes a public issue as it could have serious affects on the rest of society.
Mills concludes this requires an awareness of social structure and the ability to trace the links between the wider society and the lives of individuals.
‘to be able to do that is to possess the sociological imagination' (Mills 1970)
This concept is very useful when studying poverty when as we have seen there are large numbers of the population of Britain living in poverty. We know that there are difficulties in measuring poverty but if we take the government accepted measure of families having less than 60% of average income then 18% of people are living in poverty. This is now a public issue as the numbers are large and the consequences for society will continue into the next generations.