Sociology of poverty is the concentrated study of how this particular aspect of society affects the behaviors, interactions, and outlooks of different groups of people. This study of sociology also frequently attempts to trace the root causes of poverty among people of various backgrounds. Different sociology studies of poverty can be based on varied schools of thought according to academic researchers' points of view. While the sociology of poverty usually examines the causes and circumstances closely, it normally leaves formulating possible solutions to other disciplines such as economic theory.
The study of poverty is often required for a sociology degree in order to gain an understanding of concepts such as socioeconomic class stratification. Two of the most frequently studied theories of why poverty exists include the situational theory and the structural theory. The situational theory focuses on the fact that the poor usually lack the needed resources for upward mobility, and the structural theory examines how certain arrangements of society are responsible for consistent poverty among certain groups. These theories are two examples that provide a broader framework for studying the sociology of poverty.
Scholars who are studying this field of sociology often examine more specific factors such as prolonged unemployment, a lack of available jobs that pay living wages, and insufficient education that could otherwise lift certain groups out of poverty. The sociology of poverty also includes studies of crime rates among the poor, certain cultural practices that are unique to poverty, and the most common stereotypes of the poor. A common debate among many sociologists is whether the poor are solely responsible for their own fate or if larger society is at least partially to blame for keeping them below established poverty lines.
Group interactions in poor communities are frequent areas of interest for researchers who study the sociology of poverty. Some scholars may compile case studies of the underground economies in which people in poor areas provide cash-only goods and services for one another that go unreported to tax authorities. Others may study the prevalence of illegal or semi-legal means of income that are prevalent among many communities' poorest residents. A related focus concerns how poverty functions to maintain other classes of a given society. This particular school of thought in the sociology of poverty argues that the poor have a necessary economic function because they comprise a ready labor force for the lowest-paying and most distasteful jobs that other socioeconomic classes are unwilling to perform.