November 1, 2012
To research and write this paper I first defined what I meant by the wealth gap. As opposed to income, wealth is the assets minus the debts an individual has. Therefore when I refer to the rich or the poor I define them as people with either a vast amount of assets or very little assets. I also lumped lower income individuals and families with the poor since most lower income families do not have very many assets. Since there are many different opinions and claims about the wealth gap I decided to focus this paper on the social game of the two main claims Americans listen to and discuss. One of Loskes main points in Thinking about Social Problems is to see Social Problems as a game. “The social problems game is a set of activities (social problems work) and players who compete, and there are competitions and strategies for wining. The metaphor of social problems game is good because it draws attention to power and politics”(2003: Loseke 20). One of the best examples of comparing a social problem to this game metaphor is the social problem of the Wealth Gap. This exemplifies a game because there are two sides, both with many different players, making different claims about the Wealth Gap. These two sides “compete” over political offices in order to make their claims known and put into action. There are strategies of how these two sides make their claims and the main purpose of this social problem game is to see who has the power to influence society through politics. Claims Being Made
Different groups of people make different types of claims when it comes to the wealth gap in America. Loseke says, “people create meaning because meaning is not inherent in objects”(2003: Loseke 25). These different groups of people try to create meaning out of the wealth gap because these meanings reflect their values and beliefs of how the world should work. Loseke says that the motive behind these claims-makers is that, “they believe a condition exists that offends their moral values so much that they must work to resolve it.” (2003:Loseke 33)
In the social problem of the Wealth Gap, there are two main different claims-makers that are very motivated to change a condition about the wealth gap. At the 2012 State of the Union Address, president Obama told the American people in reference to the widening wealth gap, The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.(Obama Speech)
President Obama represents the first main portion of claims-makers that believes the wealth gap represents a social problem because there is a fundamental unfairness in the way the economy works.
On the opposite side, Mitt Romeny represents the other main portion of claims-maker that believe the wealth gap is not a social problem because the large amount of money the top earners in America have represents a “reward for hard work and business savvy – the very qualities the nation itself needs, they say, to get the economy going again.” (Trumbull) This group believes that the wealth gap is not a social problem but rather that it represents who is working hard and who deserves what. Culturle Feeling Rules
Both of these claims-maker groups use cultural feeling rules to show why the wealth gap is or is not a social problem. Loseke says that “Claim-makers must motivate audience members to evaluate a condition as intolerable, and one way to do this is by constructing conditions as violating cultural themes…(general beliefs about how the world should work)”(2003: Loseke 66)
People claiming that...