Balancing the Budget through Social Exploitation: Why Hard Times Are Even Harder for Some


In all societies needs and wants regularly exceed resources. Thus societies are always in deficit; demand always exceeds supply and “balancing the budget” is a constant social problem. To make matters somewhat worse, research suggests that need- and want-fulfillment tends to further stimulate the cycle of want-seeking rather than satiating desire. Societies use various resource-allocation mechanisms, including price, to cope with gaps between wants and resources. Social exploitation is a second mechanism, securing labor from population segments that can be coerced or convinced to perform necessary work for free or at below-market compensation. Using practical examples, this article develops a theoretical framework for understanding social exploitation. It then offers case examples of how different segments of the population emerge as exploited groups in the United States, due to changes in social policies. These exploitative processes have been exacerbated and accelerated by the economic downturn that began in 2007.

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Tropman, J. & Nicklett, E. (2012). Balancing the Budget through Social Exploitation: Why Hard Times Are Even Harder for Some. Advances in Applied Sociology, 2, 111-119. doi: 10.4236/aasoci.2012.22015.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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