The Positive Functions of Poverty

  title={The Positive Functions of Poverty},
  author={Herbert J. Gans},
  journal={American Journal of Sociology},
  pages={275 - 289}
  • H. Gans
  • Published 1 September 1972
  • Economics
  • American Journal of Sociology
Mertonian functional analysis is applied to explain the persistence of poverty, and fifteen functions which poverty and the poor perform for the rest of American society, particularly the affluent, are identified and described. Functional alternatives which would substitute for these functions and make poverty unnecessary are suggested, but the most important alternatives are themselves dysfunctional for the affluent, since they require some redistribution of income and power. A functional… 
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