Stigmatization of the Poor in America - Essay Sample on Sociology

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1087 words
Harvey Mudd College
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Poverty is a state in which an individual lacks or is deprived of the goods and services that the mainstream society takes for granted. Such goods and services may include decent housing, food, medical insurance, and clothing. The deprivation is normally due to lack of money or the resources one requires to access these goods and services. The US government has established a poverty threshold that it uses to measure the level of poverty in the US. The US Census Bureau tallies the figure of poor people in America every year. However, it seems the counting does not help much since research shows that the number has been on an upward trend, especially in the inner city parts and rural areas. Over the years, the middle class has gradually dissipated, and the gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen. As this happens, some people get the basis for stigmatization by demeaning the poor and recognizing harsh beliefs about them. Some argue that the poor are generally all right since they can afford luxuries such as microwaves, air-conditioning and television sets (Henderson & Tickamyer 121). The impact of such stigma is that workable solutions may never be crafted to eliminate poverty. Although the poor would like their circumstances changed, the stigmatization works against any efforts to have their situation changed.

Deductive Argument

The rich stigmatize the poor. If the rich stigmatize the poor, then they will never help them out. So, there is no practical solution that will ever be crafted to eliminate poverty in America.

Non-deductive Argument

The rich are informed that the poor in America are not badly off since most of them can afford a microwave, cable or satellite television, and air-conditioning. If the poor can afford such facilities, then they are not necessarily poor. So, there is no need for efficient measures to eliminate poverty in America.

The two arguments, the deductive and the non-deductive one, are not totally immune of each other. There is a clear relationship. The relationship is that the poor do not necessarily need help. It seems they can still make do with what they have and therefore, not crafting measures that can alleviate poverty is not a serious priority, at least for now. They seem to have contributed to their situation. The rich view the poor as lazy, disinterested in education, and addicted to drugs. The poor are viewed as being in their situation because they have never worked hard enough to get out of poverty. This stereotype goes on to support the opinion that the poor do not value education and, therefore, are not concerned with ideas that can help pull themselves out of their circumstances. The fact remains that poor families commonly live in poor communities. Therefore, their schools receive fewer resources and funding as compared to school districts that the children of the wealthier attend (Henderson & Tickamyer 121). So, it is not necessarily true that the poor are lazy and disregard education. The truth is that enough has not been done to improve the education conditions of the poor school going children due to the stigmatization their families face. Additionally, drug addiction is commonly associated with the poor; that poverty causes drug addiction and vice versa. This is just a stereotype aimed at stigmatizing the poor since drug addiction is not an issue exclusively affecting the poor. The rich also abuse drugs and get addicted since they have the resources to access these drugs. Drug addiction is, therefore, a problem affecting every person in America, irrespective of their socioeconomic status. Ideally, the stigmatization of the poor has disastrous outcomes since the society becomes cynical and unwilling to lay practical structures that can help the poor overcome the various economic battles that they are forced to contend with.

According to Aristotles law of identity, everything that exists in this world has features that are unique to it. It has specific characteristics that distinguish it. The aspect of stigmatizing the poor has its own unique features. The rich look at the poor as lazy drug addicts who are not willing to get themselves out of poverty. This deductive argument is related to the non-deductive one which asserts that the poor are not perturbed by their poverty since they can afford some luxuries such as the microwave and air-conditioning. In that case, the characteristic feature of the stigmatization leads to the lack of practical measures to alleviate poverty in America. On the other hand, the principle of non-contradiction goes on to emphasize that something cannot be what it is not. In other words, X cannot be X and not be X at the same time. Similarly, stigmatization of the poor in America cannot exist and fail to exist at the same time. Although the American government has taken steps such as cash transfers and food stamps to assist the poor, stigmatization still exists. This explains why despite the efforts to eliminate poverty, it continues to rise; worse still, the middle class has continued to dissipate in recent years thus posing a threat to the alleviation efforts (Hoynes, Page, & Stevens 49). Ultimately, no elaborate or practical solution has been put in place to effectively eliminate poverty in America. For the non-deductive argument, the two basic laws of deductive logic are observed in that the premise of the deductive argument has to be true or false. The premise cannot be both true and false, even at the linguistic level. If the poor can afford what is presumed as a luxury, then they are not poor. Therefore, there is no need of having a solution to their poverty since it is ostensibly non-existent. Nevertheless, this is only a stereotype that aggravates the unwillingness of those in authority to help the poor.

Stigmatization of the poor leads to the failure to put up the relevant infrastructure to address the problem. As long as people continue stigmatizing the poor in the society, no workable solutions will be undertaken. It will only work towards promoting the culture of poverty. Both the deductive and non-deductive arguments in this essay make it clear that the existent stereotypes are seriously working against the poverty alleviation efforts in America. Therefore, the American authorities need to realize where the problem is and recognize the need to create practical solutions to poverty.

Works Cited

Hoynes, Hilary W., Marianne E. Page, and Ann Huff Stevens. "Poverty in America: trends and explanations." The Journal of Economic Perspectives 20.1 (2006): 47-68.

Henderson, Debra, and Ann Tickamyer. "The intersection of poverty discourses." Race, Class, & Gender: An Anthology (2015): 121.

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