Just Sociology

Understanding the Rising Cost of Living: Perspectives from Sociology

One of the most pressing concerns facing people across the globe is the rising cost of living. Various factors have contributed to this phenomenon that has pushed many households to the brink of extreme poverty.

This article examines the multiple causes of the rising cost of living, presenting a range of perspectives from different disciplines. From the micro perspective, we explore targeted government help, relief money, and the depth of poverty for households with different compositions.

The subtopic of supply-line shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is analyzed in terms of energy prices and food prices. We then move on to explore the longer-term disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the policies of neoliberal government, left-wing government, and bailing people out.

Our discussion transitions to Marxist perspective and looks at the rising inequality between the poorest and richest of society, particularly in the context of finite resources and developing countries. Finally, we explore the sociological perspectives on the relationship between globalization and nation-states, before moving on to examine the impact of

Marxism and the micro-perspective on our understanding of the rising cost of living.

Supply-line Shocks Caused by Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

One of the primary causes of the rising cost of living is the supply-line shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These shocks have had an impact on both energy and food prices.

When Russia invaded Ukraine, they seized Crimea, a location that holds strategic importance for natural gas pipelines that connect Russia to Europe. The disruption of these pipelines caused natural gas prices to rise, and because the majority of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia, the effects were felt globally.

In addition to this, Russia’s actions have also impacted the cost of food. Russia responded to the sanctions imposed on it by the European Union and the United States by banning food imports from those countries, which raised the price of food in Russia and elsewhere.

Longer-term Disruption Caused by COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused longer-term disruptions that have contributed to the rising prices of basic goods and services. The pandemic was a global event that forced governments to take drastic actions to protect their citizens.

In the United Kingdom, for example, the government implemented policies aimed at bailing people out, such as extended furlough schemes and government loans. This helped to prevent widespread collapse of businesses and enabled people to stay afloat financially, but it also entailed significant costs.

Governments around the globe were forced to grapple with the effects of the pandemic, and their choices had knock-on effects that impacted the global economy. Anthony Giddens notes that the pandemic lays bare the weaknesses and uncertainty of nation-states in responding adequately to global problems.

Marxist Perspective

A Marxist perspective can help us to understand the rising cost of living in terms of inequality between the richest and poorest members of society. In capitalist societies, inequality is inherent, and when resources become scarce, the poorest members suffer the most.

The pursuit of profit under capitalism may lead to short-term gains, but it is not sustainable and may lead to the overuse and depletion of finite resources. This can have a particular impact on developing countries that lack the resources to respond appropriately.

A post-capitalist world, according to a Marxist perspective, would have to prioritize addressing inequality, which may entail radical restructuring of the economy and society.

Micro Perspective

When we look at the impact of the rising cost of living on households, the depth of poverty experienced by different groups is a crucial consideration. Targeted government help and relief money can be effective in reducing poverty, but there is a need to allocate resources according to the needs of different households.

Single people, for example, may struggle to make ends meet on a lower income, while households with children may face additional costs. Understanding the depth of poverty experienced by different groups is critical in targeting interventions effectively.

Globalization and Nation States

Globalization and the increasing power of global forces are transforming the relationship between nation-states and the rising prices faced by consumers. The paradox of globalization is that while it enables the efficient production and distribution of goods and services, it also erodes the ability of nation-states to control and influence prices.

A neoliberal government that emphasizes free-market principles may be less likely to interfere in market forces to address the rising cost of living, while a left-wing government may be more willing to do so. Ultimately, the question of how to address the rising cost of living linked to globalization is a political one that demands careful consideration.

Marxism

Marxism emphasizes the connection between inequality, capitalism, and the finite resources on which economies depend. The rising cost of living can be seen as an expression of the inequality that exists between the poorest and richest members of society.

As resources become more depleted, the costs of basic goods and services will rise, fall more heavily on the poorest households, and exacerbate inequality. Addressing this issue will require addressing the fundamental structures of society and the economy in a post-capitalist world.

Micro Perspective

The micro perspective can help us understand the impact of the rising cost of living on households and targeted government interventions. Relief money and targeted government help can mitigate the worst effects of the rising cost of living, but their effectiveness depends on their allocation.

Households with different compositions will have different needs when it comes to addressing poverty depth, and this is something that policymakers need to take into account.

Conclusion

The rising cost of living is a complex phenomenon that can be understood from a range of perspectives, including the supply-line shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the longer-term disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Marxist perspectives on inequality and finite resources, sociological perspectives on globalization and nation-states, and the micro perspective on the impact of the rising cost of living on households. Addressing this issue will require policymakers to prioritize the needs of different households and the sustainability of resources in a post-capitalist world.In addition to the multiple causes of the rising cost of living examined in the previous section, sociology has a range of theories that can help us to understand this phenomenon.

In this article expansion, we explore functionalism, which emphasizes the role of institutions and their functions in society, and postmodernism, which questions the idea of objective reality. We also examine how the concepts and perspectives explored in this article can be relevant to A-Level Sociology, applying them to a contemporary event.

Functionalism

Functionalism is a sociological theory that emphasizes the role of institutions in society and how they work to maintain social order. According to functionalists, each part of society has a specific function that contributes to the overall functioning of society.

Institutions that fail to fulfill their functions are seen as dysfunctional and potentially harmful to society as a whole. When considering the rising cost of living, functionalism can help us to understand how institutions play a role in maintaining the affordability of basic goods and services.

For example, if energy prices rise, it is the job of the energy sector to find ways to maintain affordability through the efficient production and distribution of energy. When institutions fail to fulfill their function, it can result in food prices rising, and people going cold or hungry.

Postmodernism

Postmodernism is a sociological theory that challenges the idea of objective reality and instead emphasizes the importance of subjective reality. According to postmodernists, the existence of multiple interpretations of reality is a reflection of the diversity of individuals’ lived experiences.

Postmodernism argues for the value of considering different perspectives, rather than trying to impose one standard view. When considering the rising cost of living, postmodernism can help us to understand the subjective experiences of individuals and how their perceptions of reality shape their understanding of the phenomenon.

For example, some people may feel that they are solely responsible for their economic situation, while others may see the system as stacked against them.

Postmodernism would argue that we should consider various perspectives of individuals to get a fuller picture of what is happening.

Contemporary Event for Illustrating Sociological Concepts and Perspectives

One contemporary event that can illustrate the sociological concepts and perspectives explored in this article is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had a profound impact on the global economy and has resulted in the rising cost of living for many people.

We can apply the multiple perspectives, including supply-line shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, longer-term disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Marxist perspectives, globalization and nation-states, and micro perspectives, to the pandemic’s impact on the rising cost of living. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in supply lines that affected the availability and affordability of basic goods and services.

Governments around the world implemented policies aimed at bailing people out and mitigating the economic effects of the pandemic. These policies had knock-on effects that have contributed to the rising cost of living.

From a Marxist perspective, the pandemic has highlighted the inequality between the poorest and richest members of society, with the former bearing the brunt of the economic fallout. The pandemic has also emphasized the complex relationship between globalization and nation-states, with some governments prioritizing the needs of their own citizens, while others focused on global health and economic concerns.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the rising cost of living is a complex phenomenon that can be understood from a range of sociological theories and perspectives.

Functionalism can help us to understand the role of institutions in maintaining affordability, while postmodernism emphasizes the importance of taking different perspectives into account.

The COVID-19 pandemic offers a contemporary event for illustrating the impact of the rising cost of living from various angles. By continuing to explore these theories and perspectives, we can deepen our understanding of the complexity of the rising cost of living and work towards solutions that address the needs of all members of society.

In conclusion, the rising cost of living is a multifaceted problem that is impacted by a range of factors, including supply-line shocks, globalization, and socioeconomic inequality. By exploring sociological theories and perspectives, including functionalism and postmodernism, we can gain a better understanding of the complexities involved and work towards solutions that address the needs of all members of society.

FAQs:

Q: What is the primary cause of rising food prices and energy prices? A: Supply-line shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the rising cost of living? A: The longer-term disruptions caused by the pandemic, along with government policies aimed at bailing people out, have contributed to the rising cost of basic goods and services.

Q: What is the Marxist perspective on the rising cost of living? A: The Marxist perspective emphasizes the role of socioeconomic inequality and finite resources in contributing to the rising cost of living.

Q: How can the micro perspective help us to understand the impact of the rising cost of living on households? A: The micro perspective considers the depth of poverty experienced by different groups and can help policymakers target interventions more effectively.

Q: What is postmodernism, and how can it help us understand the rising cost of living? A:

Postmodernism challenges the idea of objective reality and emphasizes the importance of subjective experience, highlighting the significance of considering different perspectives when analyzing the rising cost of living.

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