While physical poverty centers on surviving, as in purchasing the foods and goods necessary to fulfill one’s basic physical needs, relative poverty, also called social deprivation, centers on not being the same as others in society. As an example, Adam Smith, an 18th-century Scottish philosopher, explained, a peasant who did not own a linen shirt would not be able to participate in social events in his village, despite the fact that his family could afford basic food and shelter.

In this way, the deprivation side of poverty arises when an individual cannot afford to function in the way “most” people in his/her society do. This social poverty may also be referred to as “social exclusion.” In contrast, some individuals who face traditional poverty in the sense ...

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