Marxist Theory on Poverty in Australia

Topics: Marxism, Social class, Sociology Pages: 5 (1336 words) Published: September 5, 2010
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. (

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." (

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. (

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. (

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. 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 production, class relations, evolve through this struggle of the classes.

In capitalist society,...

References: 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.
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