The purpose of this paper will be to examine the Hyannis of poverty and attempt to suggest solutions that will effectively eliminate the problem by applying sociological theories and concepts. It will use information gathered from internet resources such as e-books, websites and periodicals. It will examine the recent changes in the economy domestically and globally and the effects these changes have made in the U. S. And will explore the historical, economic and social aspects of the social problem poverty and its causes.
Poverty in America By kinswoman Introduction We live in a fast paced society where there is no time to waste on anything. We want our food quickly, our work done quickly, yet there are some things that will not be done quickly. Wealth is one of the quickest things that can become scarce in a person’s life. For years an individual can work on a Job, possibly starting at the bottom, then over the course of time, work their way into a high position of authority. In those positions, they take advantage of the resources the company offers such as 401 K and AIR retirement options.
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They utilize the health care benefits offered as well as life and disability insurances. However, dependent upon the area or nature of the cuisines, in a moment’s notice, they can lose it all. Poverty is a social problem that plagues societies across the globe. Sociology generally is the science of studying society and people. It is different from any other science because it deals with the relationship between people and how their environments are constructed around them.
Sociologists over time have developed specific formula for identifying social issues and problems that have adverse effects on individuals and society as a whole. The sociological approach to social problems differs in that it offers both an objective ND systematic approach for the causes of social problems. This includes the acknowledgement that the problem exists, confirmed with statistical data, then secondly to determine its significance, the sociologist begins to approach the problem based on whether it endangers lives or not.
According to Crone (2011) the social problem should be approached using two fold criteria: “one criterion is the degree to which a social problem seriously endangers the lives of people; for example, one social problem causes little more than an inconvenience to people, whereas another social problem endangers their lives. A second criterion is the umber of people being hurt by the social problem; for example, one social problem hurts hundreds of people, whereas another social problem hurts millions or billions of people” (Peg. 7).
Historical Perspective on Poverty The issue of poverty in America cannot be appropriately addressed without first addressing its twofold main rooted cause, discrimination and omission. The dynamics of the slavery began to set the tone for poverty. In the sass’s, there were very few Africans on American shores. In 1665, there were fewer than 500. During this time, European and African indentured servants worked together in the fields, Hough this would soon change. White workers during this time were able to more readily save money.
They eventually saw the abundance tot land in Toronto tot them and began to purchase their own land. With the skills they had, they too began to flourish. The workforce in the Southern colonies began to change and the slave labor force was born. The general ideology of slave trade was not strictly color based per SE; though it is evident there were other factors present. However, generally speaking, the main factor in establishing this culture of labor was strictly capitalistic gain. With the slave trade, wages were not paid out of revenue but paid from the abundance of the land.
Slaves were given basic shelter and a meager weeks ration of food. This meant more profit for the plantation owner. With the election of Lincoln in 1860 without any support of the south, the Southern states succeeded the Union and formed the Confederacy. Over the next five years, the young US would see the horrific effects of war then and in the age to come. The South’s economy was based richly on slave trade and agriculture. With the Union’s victory over the South, the gap between he wealthy and the poor began to shrink. Once wealthy southern plantation owners were now as poor as those they enslaved.
Their homes and possessions were now the booty of war. They too were now in an equally dark situation. Most former slaves began to migrate north to the Union in hopes to receive better opportunities for work and housing. What they found was that though they were said to be equal, they were still separate. By the turn of the century, America with the birth of industry began to find her way again. By the “Roaring Twenties” industry was at its peak but a new era was soon to come. History. Com) I Declare War The two most important events in American economic history were the Great Depression and World War II.
The depression ushered in one of the bleakest times in US economics and also was a catalyst to ignite the government to action. Poverty during the Great Depression knew no color. In 1933, under the leadership of Franklin Roosevelt, the government took on the responsibility of providing for the people they represented. Under Roosevelt “New Deal”, the government implemented programs to regain the confidence of the American people and stimulate an otherwise failed economy. The deal also included repairing the broken workforce, putting Americans back to work under government sponsored programs.
Roosevelt under the New Deal instituted Fannies Mae and FAA which rebooted the mortgage industry. Social Security and Unemployment Insurance was established to ensure retirement benefits for the elderly and those unable to work, as well as those who were disabled. Conditional terms for receiving benefits eliminated people who were of an agricultural and domestic work background. This meant that two-thirds of African Americans did not qualify for benefits, thus excluding them altogether. Hillier, 2011) During the course of time, America found itself in a Second World War.
With it came the years of booming industry which supplemented the years of turmoil. The American workforce began to see more diversity, with blacks migrating northward for better opportunities. However, ironically, African Americans were settling in the least segregated cities, they were more segregated than any other ethnic group. The concentration of African Americans in one geographical area in cities began the formation of the Ghettos. Rational choices generally states that a person is motivated by their wants and their desires.
One key element in rational choice theory is the belief that all action is fundamentally “rational” in character. This distinguishes it trot other torts tot theory because it denies the existence tot any kinds of action other than the purely rational and calculative” (about. Com/sociology, 2013). When dealing with this theory pertaining to poverty, it states that individual actions are calculated and motivated by rational choices. The economy at this time does not at times make it possible for the better to be provided.
Ultimately, in a state of poverty, choices are limited or even eliminated, perpetuating the condition. Because of this factor, from 1910 to 1970, over 6,000,000 blacks migrated from the south settling in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago (wisped. Com). Conditions in these cities proved to be the same if not worse than their previous homes. Overcrowding and underemployment plagued these areas whose borders were being stretched beyond measure, thus creating a subculture from a social condition.
The Face of Poverty African Americans and other groups in the south were faced with the cruel realities of segregation which separated everything from housing to restrooms. Discrimination in education, employment, and housing was, of course, legal, but there were other, less well-known causes of the relative poverty of black Americans. Though the era was volatile, it was the perfect platform to usher in change. The Civil rights movement and the media proved to be a tool in the hands of the American poor, shedding light and bringing color to what was once a white economic issue.
The civil rights movement showed the world the effects and economic destruction of segregation. Leon (2011) puts it this way, “. Gilles (1999) asserts that the news media re primarily responsible for building this image of Black poverty, for the “rationalization of poverty. ” During the War on Poverty in the early sass, the media focused on White rural America, but as the civil rights movement began to build in the mid-sass, the media turned their attention to urban poverty, and the racial character of poverty coverage changed” (peg. 52).
Once again, the US government was moved to act, with the signing of civil rights legislation making discrimination illegal, not Just toward blacks, but for all ethnic groups, including women, the disabled, sexual orientation and religious beliefs. The coloration of poverty is still evident today. According to the U. S. Department of Labor (2013) “among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (6. 7 percent), adult women (6. 2 percent), teenagers (20. 8 percent), whites (6. 2 percent), blacks (12. 5 percent), and Hispanics (8. Percent) changed little in November. The Jobless rate for Asians was 5. 3 percent (not seasonally adjusted), little changed from a year earlier” With this being said, the unemployment rate still remains high in minority groups, namely Blacks, Hispanics and teenagers. Unemployment and the Issue of Poverty Though America is dubbed one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet thousands of Americans suffer from the effects of unemployment every day. During the past seven years, the unpredictability of our economy has worried most Americans, while adversely affecting others.
Unemployment rates during the past years have increased dramatically, reaching a peak of 10. 2% in October 2009 (U. S. Department of Labor 2010). Recent data shows that the unemployment rate decreased steadily from November 2011 to November 2013, dropping from 8. 6 percent to 7 0 percent ( Department tot La ) Currently, many people work et do not make enough money to provide for themselves or their families. This is attributed to many not being able to find full time employment therefore accept part time work in an attempt to maintain a normal lifestyle.
Though unemployment is a problem that is individually felt, it is clear that it contributes to poverty in our society. Some may say that poverty is a problem that is felt on an individual level, but it is the result of a number of issues, one being unemployment or in some cases under employment. According to Leon sociologist have two definitions for poverty, absolute and relative (Leon 2011, Peg. 0). Absolute poverty is the lack of basic things, such as food, shelter, and income. Relative poverty is situational which occurs when some people fail to achieve the average income or lifestyle of the rest “mainstream” society.
The gap between the rich and the poor is widening in this country, with many of the working class falling into the category of relative poverty, thus creating a subculture in American culture. Sociological Perspective When approaching this particular issue, each sociological perspective should be considered, however the functionalist perspective describes the dynamics of poverty est.. The functionalist perspective on poverty is that it serves a purpose or a particular function. According to Leon (2011) “functionalists assume that not everyone in society can and should be equal.
From this perspective, inequality is necessary for the social order” (Peg. 47). In a nutshell, this perspective says that individuals are classified economically according to their function. For example, although there are many positions in society, everyone does not fit in all of those positions. There are those who are doctors, teachers and laborers. The functionalist perspective places alee on particular people. The example used was that not everyone is a surgeon or has the skill set to be surgeon. Therefore surgeons receive higher salaries than say a bus driver.
When dealing with poverty and unemployment, this perspective contends that poverty serves a function. That function could be to create positions for those who study the subject, and work to find solutions to the problem, sociologist and bureaucrats. Poverty and the poor serves a purpose in society namely because it provides a number of things that benefit the society as a whole. Poverty creates a need for assistance. With this assistance comes government interest as well as Jobs for the educational and social service industries.
Without the poor, there would not be a need for public assistance programs such as free school lunch, free head start, or food stamps and Medicaid. There would be no need for social service agencies. With the creation of these programs, new genres of Jobs become available. Most functions of the positions in this area of employment require a bachelor degree of some sort and preferably experience. Some of these positions require the employee have experience with those who suffer from addiction and mental illness.
These specific requirements then serves as a purpose for those who are entering college to major in fields of study such as psychology and sociology. This boosts college attendance, which boost the use of student loans, which in turn feed the banks that provide the loans. The poor create a need for society to be needed themselves. It creates the atmosphere of brotherhood, with a clarion call to those in society to assist. Philanthropist groups such as Feed the Children and CARE Join the fight to assist with alleviating the problem, but decade after decade as has been shown, with no avail.
Change In order to address the issue of poverty effectively, one must address the culture and mentality that generational poverty breeds. For lack of better terminology, poverty affects the mentality of those who are plagued with its realities year after year. In America, there is a goal that every citizen aspires to. It is dubbed the American Dream. This is described as homeownership as well as the ability to readily provide for self and a family unit. To obtain this dream, many utilize the education system to prepare for employment in hopes of obtaining this dream.
Unfortunately, for many hey do not achieve this goal, thus a culture of the poor is formed. If the dream is not essentially striver for and not obtained, then the person is in some way dubbed a failure with poverty being the result of that failure. The thought within the U. S. Is that a person is poor because of personal traits. These traits in turn have caused the person to fail. Supposed traits range from personality characteristics, such as laziness, to educational levels. (Delmarva. Du, 2009) Despite other factors such as the economy educational limitations etc. It is always viewed as the individual’s personal allure not to climb out of poverty, but rather adapts to the environment, and thus creates the mentality, of “it is what it is and I can’t change it”. When in fact, there are a number of reasons, namely economics. So what do we do? Government legislation works but only to a certain degree and if there are not stipulations attached to its benefits as seen in the “New Deal” legislation. It must be inclusive to all aspects and individuals affected by poverty, meaning the working class, ethnic groups, children, the disabled, women and the elderly.
For those who are employed, tax incentives just be readily available throughout the year. The deduction for an individual filing taxes for 2013 is $6100 up from last year $5950 (IRS. Gob). Though this is a good start, $150 is not much for those who are caring for a household. Second, for those who are making minimum wage, there should not be a minimum hourly wage, but rather a yearly salary, with hourly wages instituted in cases where there is overtime worked. Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7. 25 per hour (doll. Gob) or roughly $15, 080 per year for a single person.
This averages to roughly $1256 per month before deductions, which afterward is possibly $1000. Simply put, this is not enough. If poverty is going to be eliminated, a livable wage should be implemented. On average, a person who makes $12. 00 an hour roughly grosses $480 per week or $1920 per month. After deductions, the individual would net roughly $1 500 per month. This is more acceptable for one person to be able to afford the basic necessities of living. Educational and employer/employee incentive programs would be beneficial, providing a more targeted program to better prepare students to enter into the workforce effectively.
Lastly along with targeted educational and employer efforts, here should be legislation governing rental units. Providing affordable housing is just as important as providing a livable wage. If housing is not affordable, then many are force into low income areas usually concentrated in unsafe demographics. Though FAA provides grants to supplement housing costs, it is still not an efficient means of solving overcrowding in urban areas. Rather, the FAA should set a rent limitation determined by the size of the rental, whether it is a single family home and its location. As an incentive for landlords who lower their rents to comply under the
Roof Top program, give them bigger deductions on end of the year taxes. Can poverty be eliminated. 7 The question NAS been in the minds and on the tailor tot debate for at least the last 83 years. This broken leg of our society is one that seems it does not want to heal. It has been said that when a bone is broken in the body, the area repairs itself. It is said the repaired area us stronger than the areas that were not affected. This seems to be the phenomenon when dealing with poverty. Though many programs can be implemented, it will continue to serve as a means to provide the need for society to be needed.