Social Problems in America
Social Problems in America
Poverty is one of the largest epidemics going on in the United States. There is a lot that comes with poverty including homelessness, unemployment, and hunger. These three problems are all linked together which causes the big problem of people living in poverty. One of the largest causes of poverty in this day and age is the countries recession. The people living in poverty have feelings of abandonment, helplessness, and embarrassment. Poverty is one of the hardest things people go through today in life and it is growing so fast that people are too oblivious to see it.
Most people have their own opinions and views about poverty but we have been learning about the views and opinions of three groups of individuals. They are the symbolic interactionists, functionalists, and conflict theorists. While some people in America may be taking steps to end poverty others probably don’t care who is living in poverty because it is not them. Society can intervene and help the people who are living in poverty by increasing affordable housing, increasing job opportunities, and by increasing access to education and training opportunities.
All these approaches can lead to more jobs which allow the people who live in poverty to provide for their families. “At the UN’s World Summit on Social Development, the ‘Copenhagen Declaration’ described poverty as a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. When people are unable to eat, go to school, or have any access to health care, then they can be considered to be in poverty, regardless of their income” (ThinkQuest, 2006).
There are people all around the world eating out of garbage cans, sleeping in cardboard boxes, or standing on streets asking for food or money because they are hungry. The writer has seen people standing on the streets saying they will work for food. Children all around the world are starving and so they end up stealing food just to survive. Poverty is not a just a problem itself but rather it has several other problems that form it. Homelessness, unemployment, and hunger are all problems that form the big problem we know as poverty. People who do not have a regular home are known as homeless people.
The homeless sleep where ever they can find whether it’s in the streets, in shelters, or under bridges. It is hard to get an accurate number of Americans who are homeless because the number increases and decreases on a regular basis. Also there are probably several homeless people that have not been counted. Homelessness does not affect just one gender, age, or ethnicity but rather has an effect on all kinds of people including children. A good portion of homeless people are children and it is sad to know that there are children that are living on the streets because their parents/family that provide for them.
People become homeless for many different reasons. One of the major causes of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. “The lack of affordable housing has lead to high rent burdens (rents which absorb a high proportion of income), overcrowding, and substandard housing. These phenomena, in turn, have not only forced many people to become homeless; they have put a large and growing number of people at risk of becoming homeless” (NCFTH, 2009). Some people get laid off from their job causing them to have nowhere else to go.
People who are unemployed due to job loss often have their homes foreclosed on because they can’t afford the payments. Some people may try to get public assistance but don’t qualify for it. Public assistance is a public resource that many people try to qualify for but with the lack of availability of these resources it has caused an increase in people becoming homeless. Homeless people are stereotyped on a daily basis and most people don’t want to have any contact with them. Many people feel as though homeless people are homeless because they choose to be or some think they are nothing more than drug addicts, alcoholics, or straight up lazy.
There is no need for people to stereotype a homeless person because a lot of the time these people who stereotype the homeless are either alcoholics or drug addicts themselves. “The only real difference between them and the rest of society is the lack of a place to call home” (SLO Homeless, 2011). Unemployment is when a person does not have a job or also known as unemployed. So many people who are unemployed eventually become homeless due to a lack of income. People who become unemployed often turn to crime to make money to provide for their family.
People who become unemployed experience financial, emotional, and personal problems all at once and that can be a lot to handle when you have no clue what can be done. There has been so many big companies going out of business or filing bankruptcy and that means thousands and thousands of people’s jobs are going to be taken away from them. The writer’s mother has had to deal with a situation similar to this because the company she has worked at for 16+ years is moving to Canada. The one part of the company they are keeping she has also worked in, so her only hope is that they keep her but if not she has prepared for the worse. During unemployment, they have to cope with the complex bureaucracies of unemployment insurance, welfare, and other social programs. Such experiences add to the stress already knitted into their daily lives” (Henslin, 2011, pg. 198). It is really hard for people to find jobs because of the decrease in job opportunities. Often time’s people have a hard time finding employment because of their criminal record, their job skills, the amount of education they have, or because of past jobs they have had. In today’s world education and job skills play a huge part in getting a job that pays well but a job in general.
People who are suffer from disabilities or other health problems also have a hard time getting a job. Being unemployed and not being able to find work really puts people in a bad place including being homeless and hungry. When people lose their jobs it not only affects the finances but could also have an effect on relationships. Some people are too lazy to go look for a job because they really don’t want to work or because they know how crappy the job market is and don’t feel like it is worth it to go look. “The unemployment rate in the United States fell to 8. percent in December of 2011, the lowest since February 2009” (Trading Economics, 2012). Unemployment plays a huge part in the problem of poverty especially since the recession has occurred. Hunger is the way the body tells a person they are hungry. Hunger issues in America still run high due to the economic crisis. The way the economy is now hunger problems are more severe. “We live in the world’s wealthiest nation. Yet 13 percent of people living in the United States live in poverty. Nearly one in four children live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
That’s 16. 7 million children” (BFTW, nd). Several people die every day because they were hungry or better yet starving. Many people have lost their jobs causing them not to be able to afford food for their family. So many people have turned to food pantries, food stamps, and other food organizations to stop from going hungry. Hunger is not caused by the amount of food we have because the United States has more than enough food. The biggest cause of hunger is the fact that people do not have enough money in their pockets to buy food to put on the table.
Not only is the cost of living rising fast so is the price we pay for food. This is another reason why so many people around the world are hungry. People fail to realize the fact that the people who live poverty are also the ones who will be depressed and stressed because they don’t know where their next meal will come from. “One third of those in need report that they have been forced to skip meals, cut portions significantly, or go without food altogether in order just to meet their basic financial obligations” (Escarra, 2012).
Many organizations have tried to step in and help with hunger however it is still a problem because of the economic crisis we are in right now. “Symbolic interactionism is a sociological theory that focuses on the meanings that objects and events have for people, and how people use symbols to communicate with one another” (Henslin, 2011, pg. 505). Symbolic interactionist would probably view poverty by studying the relationships between the poor. They would most likely look at the different stereotypes that people have placed on the poor people and the stereotypes the poor people have towards the rich people.
Their whole view would ultimately cover the face-to-face interactions between individuals of both sides. They would look for behavioral patterns and the intentions of others. Symbolic interactionists would most likely base poverty on individual reactions to their own perceptions of the social structure. Social interactionists would be more interested in how a person fell into poverty. They would most likely say that poor exist because they were not able to find their place in this world and was not given the opportunity to make sense of it. Functionalist perspective would view society as system.
Basically society is a system that has parts working together and every part must be working in order for the whole system to work properly. So in my opinion functionalists would most likely view poverty as a part that society needs to stay balanced. Functionalists would look at the positive consequences that poverty has for society rather than looking at the negative terms of poverty. “Functionalists also point out that poverty is functional for society. Some even say that have poor people contributes to society’s well-being” (Henslin, 2011, pg. 200).
Functionalists would be basically saying without the poor people and the problem of poverty that society would not exist. Conflict theorists would argue that poverty comes from a basic struggle over limited resources. Basically conflict theorist would say that because there are people who are wealthy and powerful that there will always be poor and weaker people simply because power and wealth are distributed unequally. Conflict theorists would argue that wealthy people will only look out for the wealthy people and their lifestyle and could care less about the poor people who are struggling in all areas of life.
They tend to look out for their own interests regardless of who it may affect. Many wealthy people would most likely say that the poor people deserve to be where they are at in our society. Conflict theorists would basically say that we need conflict in our society simply because that is the only way people will realize the problems and try to fix them which would help close the inequality hole we have in our society. There are several approaches we as a society can take to help intervene in the problem of poverty. Many people can’t afford a place to live because of the cost of living rising.
The government should come together and plan out a way that affordable housing can be built to help with the people who are living in poverty. The state and local officials can expand the availability of sites for the development of affordable homes. They should be able to find way to allow more houses to be built in residential areas. Land can be expensive especially where homes are out of reach of working families. Nobody said that the housing materials had to be brand new. There is nothing wrong with preserving and recycling the materials needed to build affordable housing.
All it takes is finding homes that have been abandoned or that have deteriorated. Educating the people on how the buying process and improving their credit and debt issues that way they can have access to more housing opportunities. These are great strategies that can be used to help the people who are living on the streets get off them. Another approach we could take is finding ways to increasing job opportunities. If we could increase job opportunities we could not only get the people that are living on the streets off them but we can reduce the possibility of these people having to go hungry daily.
Even though we have heard of the unemployment rate decreasing since December 2011 we still have a long way to go. Companies should allow more on the job training rather than just not hiring people because of their lack of skills and knowledge of a job. Businesses should promote decent work to their employees. People should be able to work and the work they do should pay them enough to provide the basic necessities to their families. With more job opportunities with a decent amount of pay would help not only unemployment rate but the amount of people who are suffering in this economic crisis.
The last approach is increasing access to a quality and affordable education. An education is not only important for children but for adults as well. So many companies want you to have a proper education for a certain position and a lot of people don’t even have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, many people can’t afford to further their education or even send their children to school. Children and adults who have a lack of education has a harder time obtaining jobs that would lift them and their families out of a personal depression with other factors.
So many children are kept home from school to help support the family with extra income. Children to deserve a quality education and should not have to stay home. The development of child is important and plays a huge role in their physical, social, emotional, academic and mental development. If these children are not being taught and are not developing as they should they could be the one that suffers in the long run. Local and state officials should find the funds to provide these children and their families with schools that are of quality and affordable.
The writer wanted to get her daughter into preschool and where we lived for a couple days a week they wanted like $1000 dollars a week and to her that is ridiculous. Education of children should be the number one priority to parents and to others. We can see that poverty is a growing epidemic and it is only going to increase if we don’t find a solution to at least decrease this problem. Homelessness, unemployment, and hunger are some of the major issues that cause people to live in poverty. We need to find ways to decrease these in our area and our country.
There are approaches we can take to help this problem. We can increase affordable housing by using recycled materials and allowing more houses be built in residential areas. We can increase job opportunities by allowing on the job training and by educating people about the different positions and the skills needed to work in that position. The last thing we can do is provide children and adults with a quality but affordable education. Education plays a huge part in work opportunities and development of children.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 January 2017
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