Poverty in America is a very complex issue that can be looked at from many directions. There are a plethora of statistics and theories about poverty in America that can be confusing and at times contradicting. It is important to objectively view statistics to gain a better understanding of poverty and to wade through the stereotypes and the haze of cultural views that can misrepresent the situation.The official poverty line in America begins with a person making at or below $12,060. To calculate the poverty line for a family, an additional $4,180 is added to the base of $12,060 for each additional member(“Federal Poverty Level Guidelines”). According to the last U.S. census, over 45 million or 14.5% of Americans are at or below the poverty line(Worstall). At this level, the U.S. poverty level has not changed much from the 1970s when the government began a “War on Poverty.” However,
Many families in the 1990s had trouble adapting to the changing economy. It took a toll on their lives. The dominant culture was for everyone to have been laid off from their jobs and for families to have a lot of stress. Milwaukee was hit pretty hard, despite urbanization of the city, especially for two certain families. A documentary crew followed around a black family and a white family (Frontline Video, 2013). The white family was the Neumann’s and the black family was the Stanley’s. During the recession in 1990, families had to learn to work hard, learn new skills, and to show their kids that they will be rewarded if they strive to do well in life. The Neumann’s and Stanley’s felt as if the upper class was getting richer while they
The idea that people of poor communities conform to a living standard and behavior is a concept described by Oscar Lewis as the culture of poverty. It is the belief that poor people consists of their own beliefs and values and behaviors. And more than 45 years later after the term, the culture of poverty paradigm remains the same: there is a consistent and observable culture that is shared by people in poverty. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the culture of poverty. differences in behaviors and values among those that are poor are just as significant as those between wealthy and poor. The culture of poverty is a construct of smaller stereotypes which seem to have implanted themselves into the collective conscience of mainstream thought as undeniable fact. However, as we will see, nothing could be further from the truth. Based on 6 most common myths of what defines poor from wealthy, I will provide evidence to the contrary.
Many reforms in the UnitedStates have been passed to help fight against the “War on Poverty”; but it has not been effective in eradicating poverty in the U.S. There are about 46 million people who are living in impoverished conditions and poverty continues to be a social issue in this country (Heritage Foundation, 2011) In the beginning, our country was formed under the belief that “this land is the land of opportunity and if we worked hard enough the American Dream can be gained” (Schwarz, 1997). People immigrate to this country today in hopes of becoming rich so they could gain a better life. In spite of coming to this country for a better life, many are faced with the lack of skills and money to succeed. In the end, most will end up in unskilled labor jobs that can barely support their families. Poverty continues to be a growing social issue because people have the “ inability to provide necessities like clothes, healthcare, and shelter” (Heritage Foundation, 2011) to help themselves and their family; therefore, many sacrifices have to be made to insure their survival. Yet many reforms made to help people living in poverty are based “off of outdated statistics” (Henslin, 2014, p.276) and are not enough to help the lower class maintain a sufficient standard of living. Poverty relates to conflict theory since the poor are struggling just to get by. Government programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), housing assistance, and food stamps provided by the government are not enough to help the poor gain social mobility.
The sociological approach toward social problems is different from many social science studies. Sociology connects with social problems which are local, or global; as well as, social problems discovered in individuals, and groups. Equally important the sociological study measures the effect of people and society. “As a social science, sociology offers an objective and systematic approach to understanding the causes of social problems.” (Leon-Guerrero, 2011, pp. 5-6) Unfortunately some social problems remain more significant than other social problems. Subsequently due to the danger and, or seriousness it may cause to some, or many people in society. (Crone, 2011, p. 7)
It certainly seems peculiar how so much disparity exists among the haves and have-nots in the country that leads the free world. The high level of poverty in the United States coupled with the disparaging rates of income are at times hard to comprehend. How can a country of such great wealth and power also be a country of vast poverty? Poverty will always be evident in the United States to some extent. However, minimizing poverty and income inequality will be conducive to the well being of the United States.
In 1964 President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, which led to the poverty line which we used today that was developed by Mollie Orshansky. The majority of those in poverty are women and children they account for 35% of the poor population. In terms of race and ethnicity African Americans Native Americans and Latinos are consistently at the top of lists of those in poverty. America is a high income nation but has the highest poverty rate of any country that is advanced as this country is.
People in America often suffer from poverty and the treatment that comes with it, throughout their everyday lives. The question raised is why are poor individuals dehumanized by high structures of power? Some people with a higher income feel like they have a choice and a real recourse to justice rather than a lower class individual. They also believe that they are entitled to the world and their opinion matters because of their financial status versus someone who doesn’t have material things. Lessin’s and Deal’s film , Natasha Trethewey’s Memoir, and Bell Hooks’ excerpts, depicts that the poor are often dehumanized and neglected by structures of power, such as the government and media, because of their lack of money and education, however some of structures of power are ignorant to how the lives of poor people really are.
Several citizens in America may not empathize with many social conflicts which transpire in America. Unfortunately, when poverty is mentioned people of diverse gender, race/ethnic, and age can relate to poverty in America. Although several societies have not experienced the undesirable measures of relative or absolute poverty; several people know poverty exist through many channels, such as the media, social networking, history and charities.
Poverty is defined by Webster says the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions. The most common measure of poverty in the U.S. is called the poverty threshold. This measure determines the lack of food and needs commonly taken for granted. The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is approximately $ 23,550 dollars a year in 2013. Many people will have at some point lived below the poverty level for at least a year according to the government. Poverty rate are constantly high in rural and inner city areas in the United States. According to the November 2012 census bureau more than 16% of the population in the United States lived in poverty. This includes 20% of American children. In 2011, child poverty reached an all-time high with over 16.7 million children living without enough food for the day. (US Census Bureau, 2013).
Accordingly, this theory takes certain points made by other theories of poverty and puts them in the context of race, making it a more comprehensive explanation of poverty. In examining labor, non-work among black men aged 25-40 without high school degrees has been increasing at a more rapid rate than the rate for non-work among white men in the similar situation since the 1970s. The theory of labor markets in explaining poverty summarizes that those who do not work steady jobs or work regularly are more likely to be poor. If black men are not working as much as they used to, it should explain why poverty among black people is higher than it is for white people. The reason for their non-work can be explained by a number of reasons, including disincentives, labor markets, and culture, but it is best explained by institutional problems and structural
Poverty itself is a controversial and widely debated issue with a variety of opposing viewpoints. Despite differences in opinions on how poverty should be treated, the vast majority agrees that poverty is a problem plagues the nation on both economic and social levels. Economically, poverty affects everyone. As taxes are paid by the entire nation, poverty influences where our money goes and how it is spent. Socially, poverty affects families and individuals on an emotional level. Impoverishment affects happiness and health, the decisions people make, and most importantly the development of children. To best understand poverty, one must look at the issue economically and socially, and contextualize the numbers surrounding poverty as well as
What is poverty? The World Bank Organization takes a unique way of looking into the question of what is poverty. “Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.” With that being said, according to the United States Census Bureau in 2013 the nation’s poverty rate fell to 14.5%, down from 15% a year earlier. This drop of a half percent is the first significant drop since 2006 when it was 12.6%. If one were to do the math a whopping 45.3 million Americanss fall under the line of poverty. Unfortunately of those 45.3 million living in poverty,
The Federal Government defines poverty as income that falls below the United States Poverty threshold. (Begun 95). If a person is below or right at the poverty line they are considered poor. It also refers to the lowest level of income a person can make and afford the minimum necessities. (Bender and Leone 23). The poverty line was adopted by the government in the mid 1960's. Not included in the income figure are cash benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid.(Le Vert 50). The poverty rate is adjusted for different sexes, races, ages, and family structures. The government adjusts the poverty line each year according to the cost of living.
Social Stratification in the African American community has changed over the years. Social stratification is defined as a rigid subdivision of a society into a hierarchy of layers, differentiated on the basis of power, prestige, and wealth according to Webster’s dictionary. David Newman in Sociology Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Life describes stratification as a ranking system for groups of people that perpetuates unequal rewards and life chances in society. From slavery to the present, the African American community has been seen to have lower status compared to white people. Today, the stratification or hierarchy difference between whites and black are not really noticeable, but it is still present. However, during slavery, the difference in social stratification was noticeable. Whites dominated over the blacks and mulattoes (offspring of a white and black parent). The mulattoes were seen to have a higher stratification than an offspring of black ancestry. Because the mulattoes were related to the whites, they were able to obtain higher education and better occupations than blacks. For example, most slaves of a lighter skin tone worked in the houses and darker slaves worked in the fields. As the people of light skin tone had children, they were able to have advantages too. The advantages have led into the society of today. In this paper I will discuss how stratification has been affected in the African American community over time by skin tone to make mulattoes more privileged than dark skin blacks.