"What thoughtful rich people call the problem of poverty, thoughtful poor people call with equal justice the problem of riches." (R H Tawney)
While there have always been poor people in society, it is only in relatively recent times that the relief of poverty has been a major object of social policy. The poor have always been a `problem` in that they tend to be discontented and therefore a potential source of unrest and social disorder.
ntil recent times the emphasis has been on controlling the poor, through legal sanctions, rather than supporting them or seeking to cure poverty through policy initiatives. While poverty may seem to be obvious and has some physical manifestations in the worst cases, poor housing, malnutrition etc, there is a sociological and political debate concerning the definition of poverty.