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The Persistence of Poverty in America

Issues of disparity within the society have been understood to be having theoretical underpinnings in different levels. The American society as a whole is characterized by the patterns of relationships between its citizens. Most of these patterns are defined by the culture that is set forth by its people. However, the concept of the persistence of poverty in America is further characterized by the broader societal facets such as social stratification or division from wealth.

Sociology explains this in various theoretical frameworks that back the roles in the society, how these roles behave towards each other, and how these behaviors affect the subsistence of poverty in the nation. These theories further explain poverty through the existence of the concepts of social stratification and division of wealth. Theories such as the structural-functional approach highlight the capitalism culture of the wealthy in America as the primary cause of the persistence of poverty in the country.

Structural-functional supporters argue that the societal structure is inevitably having divisions in terms of wealth and this fact of inevitability calls for the members of the society to be appeased with the truth of stratification. Putting these explanations in its proper context, it translates to America set to having all the different classes and that the wealthy and the poor should always exist. The structural theory of Marx is somehow related to the concept of structural-functional theory.

Marx explains that structure generates inequality and social change where advantages and disadvantages are connected to positions in social structure (Sorensen, 1996, p. 1335). Marx argues that capitalism has brought two major classes within the economic system; the capitalist and the working class. The capitalists are the ones in control of capital, production, and are continuously striving to increase profits. The working class on the other hand is the workforce that aids the profit-seeking capitalist in return for income.

However, profits are said to be largely benefiting the capitalists as the value of production are not fairly compensated to the laborers. This kind of arrangement is what Marx call exploitation thus bringing about poverty in the nation. The more the wealthy become capitalistic; constantly seeking for their profit, the more the working class becomes deprived of wealth. This imbalance of wealth leads to America’s poverty situation into conflicts which are further explained by the theory of social-conflict.

This theory suggests that, just like Marx’s insights, the wealthy continues to gain, and the poor continues to lose. This explains the persistence of poverty in America in such a way that for as long as the wealthy survives out of capitalistic motives, the poor will always struggle to get out of their situation in poverty. The economic recession, for instance, is speculated to be caused by the capitalistic motives of the wealthy in the form of big companies owned by the high-class.

They basically took advantage of the working class by allowing them to grab then-seemingly advantageous opportunities through credits and loans. As a result, the economy became incapable of holding such amount of credit and loans thus took its toll through what now is a global problem-the global financial crisis of the decade. However, another theory argues that these former theories of classes, division of wealth, and social stratification might just not be the probable cause of wealth in America.

The Symbolic-Interaction theory suggests that the experience of poverty in America is shaped by the mere interaction within the society. For instance, Max Webber elaborates on the social circumstances imposed to races as the cause of inequality. According to Webber, situations and chances in life determines the quality of ones life as well as the access to benefits provided by the society. This kind of cultural patterns applies to poverty as well.

In several cultures, living conditions, which may be perceived as a deprived one, are considered to be their very culture. For many who have never experienced such conditions of poverty, this may be defined as an adverse state of humanity. However, for these people who are in the very situation, this kind of living conditions may just be normal and is nothing near to being adverse. In conclusion, the culture of poverty may be defined as a problem posed to several individual in the society.

However, with deeper understanding of the thought processes of those who are experiencing such circumstances, this may just not be a problem but a custom that has been easily lived by. Conversely, the real problem that the culture of poverty brings about in the society is more than just the unequal allocation of wealth to different classes but the social inequality that is entailed to the disparity between these different societal segments. Thus, I conclude that the theory of social-conflict best explains the persistence of poverty in America.

As cited earlier, poverty is a problem that brings about so much more issues within the society such as homelessness, health problems, and lack of education. Thus, understanding the society in such a way that there is conflict between the divisions help us realize that problems that have risen, such as the economic recession, should not be considered as inevitable and can be solved through equality and the absence of capitalistic motives. References Sorensen, A. (1996). The Structural Basis of Social Inequality. The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 101, No. 5, 1333-1365.

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