Above all else, one essential thing poverty takes away from people is choice. Choice – a basic human need – in this instance is mostly in the hands of others, and that gives them power over other people’s lives. Poverty is the greatest social injustice of our time as a civilised species.

The idea that poverty limits people’s choices is a well-established concept in social science research. Poverty can be defined as a lack of resources necessary for basic human needs, including food, shelter, clothing, and healthcare. When people do not have access to these resources, they are unable to make choices that many of us take for granted, such as where to live, what to eat, and whether to seek medical treatment. Poverty can limit the choices of an individual to the point where they may have no say in the direction of their life. In a sense, choice is a basic human need.

This lack of choice is particularly acute in situations where people are living in extreme poverty. In such circumstances, people often have to make choices between competing necessities, such as whether to spend money on food or rent. In such cases, the choices are often made for them, as they simply do not have the resources to make the choices they would like. People who live in poverty may be forced to take jobs that pay poorly and offer little in terms of advancement opportunities or benefits. They may have limited access to healthcare, education, and other basic needs, which can make it difficult to break the cycle of poverty.

The lack of choices that poverty creates can also lead to a sense of powerlessness. When a person feels like they have no control over their life, it can be challenging to take action and make positive changes. This sense of powerlessness can make it difficult for people living in poverty to advocate for themselves and their communities, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and limiting their ability to improve their lives.

When others have the power to make choices for those in poverty, it creates a power dynamic that can be exploitative. Individuals or organisations that have the power to provide resources or services to those living in poverty can use that power to control and manipulate the lives of those in need. And they almost always do. This dynamic can further perpetuate poverty and exacerbate existing inequalities.

In addition to the immediate impact of poverty on people’s ability to make choices, there are also longer-term consequences. Poverty can limit people’s access to education and job opportunities, which can in turn restrict their ability to make choices later in life.

Poverty is not distributed evenly across society, and certain groups of people are disproportionately affected by it. For example, women, children, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people and people of colour are more likely to experience poverty than other groups. This further limits their choices, as they may face discrimination and social barriers that make it more difficult for them to access resources and opportunities.

In conclusion, poverty takes away people’s choices and the ability to control their own lives. This lack of choice can create a sense of powerlessness and perpetuate the cycle of poverty. The power dynamics that arise when others make choices for those living in poverty can also be exploitative and exacerbate existing inequalities. Therefore, it is crucial to address poverty and work towards protecting individuals and communities from the power imbalance, and, as a society, assure basic human rights and dignities such as shelter, food and choice.

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