Poverty as defined by Wikipedia is the scarcity or the lack of certain (variant0 amount of material possessions or money. It means having less to totally nothing at all. Having less means having less power to anything that efficient group can acquire. However, being poor can be perform several functions which benefits both poor and the affluent but mostly the rich ones. Gans applied the Mertonian functional analysis in order to explain the persistence of poverty and fifteen functions which poverty and the poor perform especially for the affluent group of the society. These functions classified by Gans economic, social, cultural and political functions in which according to the author were the most significant. Also, these are described along with groups and aggregates; such as the interest groups, socioeconomic classes and other population aggregates.
As to Gans, the first function of poverty is that the existence of poverty makes sure that ”dirty work” is done. Dirty work such as farm operation, mechanical and other dirty works that exists in the society, to be able to be done by requiring people who do not want the work but are of no choice but accept and perform such. In other words poverty functions to do this dirty works at low wage simply because no matter how unwilling they may be, they got no other choice.
This function of poverty is very important, such for example is many economic activities w/c involve dirty works such in restaurants, hospitals, garments industry ( especially the factory), and cultural agriculture, this group could not have grown without its dependence to substandard wage rate that they pay to their employees wherein merely the poor people.
The poor subsidize, directly and indirectly, many activities that benefit the affluent. Being the second function of poverty, the poor have supported consumption and investments activities of the economy; the poor wages that the poor are receiving allows the affluent ones to be superior with regards to putting the large portion of their income to savings or other investments which the poor people could not do. This results to producing higher incomes for everybody which is a positive side of economic growth. To make it simpler the poor remains poor and the rich get richer.
Thirdly, poverty creates job, for a number of occupations and professions which serve the poor, or shield the rest of the population from them, this implies economic usefulness of the products which poor people patronize. It is not the poverty; these products are no use once the affluent group disregards them already.
Also, the fourth function provides income for incompetent or poor by trained professionals and non professionals. The poor usually, for example when sick and lack enough financial to be checked by professional doctors turns to quacks which are cheaper.
The fifth function as cited by Gans from Macarov 1930,pp.31-33, the poor can identified and punished as alleged or real deviants in order to upholds the legitimacy of dominant norms. The poor being the poor tends to turn to during crimes or illegal source income which violate the rules of the government. One hurting fact that what others thought of the poor is that they regard them as lazy and dishonest, when in fact, the efficient ones also commit crimes and illegal doings which is termed “White-collar crimes” studies have concluded that the middle-class youngsters are sometimes more delinquent as poor ones but sadly the poor are more often caught in the act than that of more able ones.
The sixth function of poverty pertains to another group of poor, described as deserving. This group of poor are mainly the most suffering ones, as the definition of poverty, they are the ones with nothing most especially money. They suffer from what we call bad luck and this makes other feel fortunate enough to own what they have and can acquire. The more able people make the deserving poor their basis of what they call themselves, “lucky”.
The seventh function then applies that the poor are often thought to enjoy more than the middle-class. This is true which other poor people who usually use their earned income to enjoy their lives with liquor, girls and sometimes illegal drugs. They often are alleged to alcoholic and narcotic behavior which mainly offers vicarious participation in the affluent groups of people.
The eight function as described in Gans’ article implies that poverty help to guarantee the status of those who are not poor, this means that the poor are the basis of the affluent position in the economic hierarchy. These able ones cannot call themselves rich for without the existence of the poor. Also, because of these poor people, they are able to run business which needs true man power of lower wage where in only the poor ones are willing to do through unwilling they don’t have any other choice as to what the first function implied.
The ninth function of poverty describes the poor as the assisting body in the upward mobility of the non-poor groups. This the poor performs variety of work load for their non-poor employers which then help the latter improve their economic situation to a more higher position in the hierarchy of socio-economy. Which poor working for them and receiving only substandard wage rate for them provides them less expense to salaries and at the same earning more.
As for the tenth the poor add to the social viability of non-economic groups. Aside from helping the economic groups, improve their lives, the poor also add to the social viability of the non-economic groups, they manly serve as the beneficiaries of settlement houses and charity works of non-economic groups of people. Also, the poor are enabling the churches express their religious sentiments into action.
Another function of poverty which is the eleventh is about the poor who have helped the unsung role in the creation of “civilization”. The poor are big part of the construction of the monuments and other buildings such as the Egyptian Pyramids and Greek temples which are constructed then by poor groups in the society. Even before and up until now, most affluent people dislike the heavy works so the poor are the ones who mostly as these kind of work such as construction. They are the big body of labor who greatly contributed to the creation of the civilization.
The twelfth function of poverty implies that the “low” culture created for or by the poor is often adopted by the more affluent. This means that most of the more affluent groups are also practicing some of the practiced cultures or trends that the poor ones enjoy.
The remaining three functions are classified under the political functions that the poor carry out:
The thirteenth function; the poor serve as symbolic constitutes and opponents for several political groups. The poor have the power to vote during elections and choose leaders whom they want. In this case they are considered constituencies of the chosen party and opponents of the other.
Fourteenth, the poor, being powerless, can be made to absorb the economic and political costs of change and growth. As the economy grows, the society surely needs to expand to larger space in order to build another business that they need. To do so, they need new land and their solution is to push off the poor from their occupied lands without any re-compensation. This made the poor become poorer and become a problem of the society. As to me, this connects to the previously discussed function; the poor become sources of income of the professionals by serving the poor people.
Comes the last function, the poor played an important role in shaping the political process. These poor people then vote and participate less than other groups. The poor are a great help to politicians because most of the votes they acquire comes from these groups.
The poor functions well as part of the society, though undeserving of their position, they provide positive functions to other groups. Without the poor, the affluent will be forced to do the dirty works themselves or if not, they will be paying higher wages in order for the work to be done. Poverty functions help the more affluent maintain their social and economic positions in the society and serves as the basis of economic hierarchy where in the poor at the lowest part and the rich at the top.