The purpose of this assignment is to examine how the perception of a population can influence the shape and effectiveness of a given policy. The difference between the “culture of poverty” vs the “restricted opportunities” in understanding poverty will be analyzed. Most explanations for poverty and wealth place the blame or praise on individual shortcomings and factors. The degree of marginalization and dimensions of gender, immigration status, ethnicity/race, and social status are often overlooked (Godfrey & Wolf, 2016).
Culture of Poverty vs Restricted Opportunity
The culture of poverty is how an individual reacts and adapts to their environment. For those in an environment of homelessness, drugs, gangs, and etc.they may not see a way out of their situation resulting in hopelessness. Individuals in an environment of poverty often fail to see long term goals instead see what can be achieved for immediate gratification. The belief is that because someone has been damaged by their culture, they cannot take advantage of opportunities in their future. Edward Banfield of Harvard believes that some people become poor through misfortune or accident (Barusch, 2017). Banfield also argued that for some individuals the lack of strength and values to succeed put them in poverty regardless of the circumstance.
African Americans that live in ghettos are stereotyped to stay in their circumstance because historically their ancestors were not allowed to own property or save money which has resulted in accumulating wealth and stability not being taught. Removing children from poor families and placing them with middle class families is one way that productivity, thrift, and abstinence has been believed to be taught(Barusch, 2017).
Restricted opportunity is seen when a culture does not provide the necessary tools or abilities for an individual to avoid poverty. The theory states that children who grow up in poverty are more likely to stay in poverty(Barusch, 2017). Female’s who are the head of a household , people of color and the disabled are all more likely to live in poverty. President Lyndon Johnson established programs to attempt to decrease poverty with more educational opportunities, employment, and political opportunities. The introduction of affirmative action and Civil rights laws, provided equal opportunities for people of color and women.
Contributing factors to the cause of the problem
Income inequality is a contributing factor to poverty. When a country grows economically, poverty is reduced. The income must be distributed equally within all communities otherwise poorer communities end up poorer and individuals feel it the most. Conflicts and unrest are the result of the loss of human lives, disease, violence, hunger, the destruction of property, and the lack of quality labour. Adverse ecology and location are also contributing factors for poverty. The location someone lives within a county can make someone poor. Geographic and ecological factors such as mountains, swamps, and deserts may make living conditions unbearable in many places. Some communities are located far from roads, markets, health services, schools and economic facilities resulting in an inability to access support and assistance. Natural disasters from droughts, floods, hurricanes and other natural events cause deaths, illness and loss of income. Poor health and disabilities are associated with poverty. If a community is affected by HIV Aids or Malaria for example, poverty will get worse. Someone with a disability may also quickly drain any form of wealth.
The inheritance of poverty may be passed from one generation to the next. Parents may not have the resources to send their children to college so those children grow up with no skills. They then emulate their parents, marry into families with similar situations and begin repeating the cycle (Godfrey & Wolf, 2016). When there is an absence of education people cannot help themselves. This results in their poverty situation getting worse. There is also gender discrimination when males are more valued than females.
The case study The Trouble With Grit is an example of making an assumption about someone’s situation before investing. Ms. Grady was assuming that Samantha was lazy for not doing her homework. Once Ms. Grady spoke to Mr. Burns, who grew up in poverty she knew the situation but was still ignorant to the environmental injustice (Gorski & Pothini, 2018).
Poverty will never be completely obsolete because of the human factors. The government and approved organizations have to step in and offer resources people can relate to like health, income redistribution, economic development, and education. Quality education empowers people to take advantage of opportunities around them. Many programs feed kids at school and provide health services. This encourages parents to send the children to school and keep them there. The government needs to extend development programs such as roads, bridges, and other economic facilities to rural areas, to make it easy for goods and services and farm produce to move to and from the farming communities (Senteio, Marshall, Ritzen, & Grant, 2009).
In the end, poverty is a major cause of social tensions and threatens to divide a nation because of the issue of inequalities, but mainly income inequality. This happens when wealth in a country is poorly distributed among its citizens (Chatterjee, Kakkar, & Chaturvedi, 2016). Society should be concerned about poverty because it is a vicious cycle that means lifelong handicaps and troubles that are passed on from one generation to another.
As a social worker I will ensure that my clients have access to resources that ensure their basic human needs. I will do my part to enable everyone to attain the highest quality of life possible. I will remain strengths based and solution focused. I have an ethical responsibility to take action on behalf of clients. Challenging is the identification of steps to tackle poverty in a way that looks to the future and create steps for sustainable changes to decrease poverty over time(Chatterjee, Kakkar, & Chaturvedi, 2016).
- Barusch, A. S. (2017). Foundations of social policy: social justice in human perspective. Stamford, CT, USA: Cengage Learning.
- Chatterjee, P., Kakkar, M., & Chaturvedi, S. (2016). Integrating one health in national health policies of developing countries: India’s lost opportunities. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 5(1). doi: 10.1186/s40249-016-0181-2
- Godfrey, E. B., & Wolf, S. (2016). Developing critical consciousness or justifying the system? A qualitative analysis of attributions for poverty and wealth among low-income racial/ethnic minority and immigrant women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 22(1), 93–103. doi: 10.1037/cdp0000048
- Gorski, P. C., & Pothini, S. G. (2018). Case studies on diversity and social justice education(Second). New York: Routledge.
- Senteio, C., Marshall, K. J., Ritzen, E. K., & Grant, J. (2009). Preventing Homelessness: An Examination of the Transition Resource Action Center. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 37(2), 100–111. doi: 10.1080/10852350902735601