The Social Effect of Rising Gas Prices on The Lower Class, and Small Business Owners One of the largest financial burdens on the lower class and small business owners over the past six years has been the steady rise in gas prices. "Gas prices have been steadily rising for more than six years. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average retail price of gasoline in the United States in March of 1999 was $1.05 per gallon. The price has been rising ever since, with prices reaching over $2.50 per gallon in August, 2005" (Patricia Schaefer) This steady rise is something that cannot be ignored by economist and sociologist alike. Emile Durkheim, a sociologist who founded the theory of functionalism would see the gap widening of the upper and lower class's due to increased gas prices, as a natural change, needed to sustain life in the world.
The rise in prices have been felt all over the world, for a person who drives fifteen thousand miles a year with an average of twenty miles per gallon, a sixty cent price increase means an extra four hundred-fifty dollars per year in gasoline. ("High gas prices widen divide between rich and poor," 2005) This may not sound like a whole lot being only $37.50 a month, but to a family who may be on the verge of poverty, this could likely put them over the edge.
The sad thing is that the families who feel this burden are the same families that were forced to move out of the expensive cities into more of a suburban living to counteract rising housing costs. The increased commute to and from work is now starting to be the number one reason why gas price increases are turning out to be as dramatic as they are.
The flip side of this is that due to increased energy costs, many Americans are being forces to downscale and move closer to their places of employment in order to cut down on commute costs. (Timothy B. Wheeler, 2005) It's turning into a lose, lose situation for the lower class Americans because the...
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