December 4, 2011
Poverty in the United States is defined by an income level on the order of twenty-one thousand dollars a year for a family of four. According to 2008 U.S. Census Bureau data, 37 million people or 12.5% of the United States population live below the poverty line (Macionis, 2010). This percentage fell during the 1960’s, but has remained fairly constant since that time. While this level of poverty is classified as relative or not severe, the number is significant and has shown no signs of improvement over the past five decades. The United States of America is not known as a country with severe poverty. However, the citizens of this country who live in poverty are pre-disposed to malnutrition and pre-mature death. With the burden of poverty being disproportionately shouldered by women and children, the moral implications are clear. For all of these reasons poverty in the United States is a topic that requires sociological consideration.
In times of economic crisis in America, society appears to form into more distinct classes of “haves” and “have nots.” As more of the middle class slips into the ranks of the poor, the realization that poverty exists in such a rich and demographic society becomes more apparent. Society scrambles to explain, defend and point fingers at the problem. Ultimately, various segments of society come together to work on both temporary and permanent solutions for those deemed impoverished.
Our society has two distinct views when attempting to explain this problem which tend to mirror the positions of the two major political parties in the country. The first view is “Blame the Poor” which suggests that poverty is a self-imposed condition resulting from a lack of motivation. This theory is predicated on the fact that America is a country full of boundless opportunities and one only need apply his or herself in order to succeed. In general this philosophy is... [continues]
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