Perceived causes of poverty in a South African township
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The main aim of this study was to investigate the perceived causes of poverty in a South African township of Kwakwatsi. The objective of the study was to investigate if the participants perceived causes of poverty in individualistic, structural and fatalistic terms. Furthermore, the study investigated the impact of socioeconomic factors on the residents‟ perceptions of the causes of poverty. In achieving these objectives a quantitative research technique was adopted. A sample size of 225 households was interviewed using a questionnaire. A literature review indicates that poverty is a multidimensional concept alluded to a number of causes. People tend to blame external forces, government and themselves for being poor. In an attempt to investigate the perceived causes of poverty in the area, a scale developed by Joe Feagin was used. The scale groups causes of poverty into; individualistic, structural and fatalistic. Individualistic perceptions puts the blame for being poor on the individual, while structural factors is when individuals blame the economic and political forces, and fatalistic factors is when individuals blame unexpected events, such as illness and accidents for poverty. In addition, the study employed a linear regression model to analyse the relationship between perceived causes of poverty and socio-economic variables. There were more male than female headed households in Kwakwatsi. Few household heads obtained tertiary education while others never attended school. Regarding the employment status, a large number of the participants were found to be informally employed. Those who were unemployed possessed skills such as retailing, building, catering, and hairdressing. The majority of the unemployed are looking for jobs while others are helping with chores at home. Further analysis revealed the individualistic index as the most dominant, implying that residents of Kwakwatsi blame the individual for being poor. A reasonable number of participants also viewed poverty in structural and fatalistic dimensions. In the regression analysis; age, marital status, education, gender and employment status were significant predictors of the individualistic index. For the structural index the following factors were statistically significant: gender, age, income, education and employment status of the household head. In addition, age, education and Perceived causes of poverty in a South African Township employment status are found to be significant predictors of the fatalistic index. It was interesting to note that the variable for household size had no significant in all the three indices. Kwakwatsi is regarded as a poor area and the majority of the participants in this study blame the individual for being poor. This provides an opportunity for the government to partner with the community in the upliftment of the area. Further analysis can compare the perceived causes of poverty and the socioeconomic/ poverty status of the individual.