Social Science: Global Poverty, Global Inequality and Other World Social Problems

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  1. Select five countries around the world. Choose two or three that are at the top end in the development/wealth scale –i.e., countries that we would describe as ‘rich’– and two or three that are towards the bottom –or what we would refer as ‘poor’ countries. While there is no one definitive method for ranking countries on a poverty scale, you will find that the various methods –whether it is gross nation income (GNI), per capita gross domestic product (GDP), human poverty indicator (HPI), etc– come up with surprisingly similar results. So don’t worry about this too much. Just choose countries that are clearly and consistently at either the top or bottom of the rankings.
  2. To find out how the countries of the world are ranked, visit the following website and locate the ‘Ranking tables’. Look at a couple of those tables and then select your five countries:
    1. You can find this information at: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/GDP-ranking-table (Links to an external site.) [Choose the format you prefer on the “Resources” box on the right side]
    2. You can also look at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal) (Links to an external site.)
    3. Or you can do your own Google search and find a similar list on the web.
  3. Look at the following three social problems discussed in Chapter 3 of your book and, using the internet or other sources try to find data these problems for each of the five countries you chose. Describe how prevalent these problems are in the specific countries and how the prevalence of these problems compares between the five countries. The three problems you should address are:
    1. The HIV and AIDS pandemic
    2. The “new slavery”
    3. High birth rates
  4. Using your “sociological imagination” try to explain how does poverty and inequality create, exacerbate and/or maintain these problems; AND how these problems, in turn, create, exacerbate and/or maintain poverty and inequality. Remember that you have a license to speculate –think and try to uncover connection, and remember what Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

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