Issue of Poverty in America: Classism

Poverty is one of the key social issues that need to be addressed on a comprehensive level so that multiple disparities and issues causing the increase in poverty rates could be managed. In the U.S., poverty remains a major socioeconomic concern (Uluğ et al. 2). The phenomenon of poverty should be analyzed as a complex problem caused by a broad variety of socioeconomic, sociocultural, and sociopolitical factors. However, when examining the issue of poverty in the U.S., one should consider it from the perspective of classism as the idea of one’s social status or economic well-being defines one’s worth as a member of society (Chambers et al. 133). Due to the rampant rise in the levels of classism in the U.S., the problem of poverty must be scrutinized primarily as a problem of misplaced social values and the lack of balance in distributing social goods.

Looking deeper into the problem of poverty in the U.S., one will need to consider a variety of factors affecting the development of economic disparities and the increase in the income gap between members of the U.S. community. However, while the factors in question are highly varied, most of them are linked to a single cause, namely, that one of classism (Jordan et al. 2). Specifically, Jordan et al. point to the problem of classism as the cornerstone issue defining the development of economic inequality: “Negative stereotypes legitimize the lower status of subordinate groups by portraying them as lacking qualities associated with status and power” (Jordan et al. 1). According to Jordan et al., there are persistent “ambivalent classism beliefs” regarding the issue of poverty (4). Namely, due to the existence of persistent beliefs about poor people and the propensity toward viewing them as inferior to the citizens belonging to the middle class, classism has created premises for a drastic drop in empathy toward and understanding of people living in poverty (Jordan et al. 3). Consequently, poor people are systemically marginalized, having little to no opportunity for escaping the conundrum of financial problems (Jordan et al. 12). Namely, education options and, therefore, potentially lucrative employment options are nearly nonexistent for most people living beyond the poverty line (Jordan et al. 10). Therefore, the problem of classism should be represented as the core reason for the levels of poverty to increase in the U.S.

Apart from a plethora of prejudice that poor people have to encounter daily, classism has also set the platform for the socioeconomic privilege for middle- and upper-class citizens, thus, depriving people facing poverty of the few opportunities that they could pursue. Specifically, Uluğ et al. emphasize the detrimental effect that the development of contempt and emotional indifference toward people living beyond the poverty line produces (3). According to the authors of the study, combined with the impact of classism, the increase in the socioeconomic privilege of the middle class dehumanizes poor people, thus, making it increasingly more difficult to represent their plight and promote measures for fighting poverty: “Identification with all humanity may help people endorse a belief that social and economic inequalities are unjust” (Uluğ et al. 10). Although Uluğ et al. points to the slight improvement in the perception of poor people as a result of the campaigning performed to confront the issue of the coronavirus, poor people are still marginalized and perceived with a distinctive sense of contempt by middle- and upper-class citizens (7). Therefore, the current wealth gap in the U.S. has been increasing, thus, making poverty rates rise consistently.

However, some scholars tend to disagree that the issue of poverty should be seen as contingent upon the class-related conflicts and the associated misconceptions of, prejudices toward, and misrepresentations of poor people. For example, the paper by Chambers et al. argues that poverty is largely determined by the policies adopted and implemented by the government: “a growing number of recent papers empirically estimate the negative impact of federal regulations on the US economy” (135). The specified opinion is quite legitimate given that the state defines the distribution of wealth to a significant extent by creating employment opportunities, seduction options, and social support frameworks Chambers et al. (135). However, the article fails to consider the primary cause of the government’s failure to address the needs of poor people. Namely, the increasing lack of concern caused by the growing distance between people in poverty and the middle class, as well as the resulting contempt that the latter experience toward the former, remain the main factors enhancing the divide between the poor and the rich.

Since the problem of classism is deeply entrenched in the U.S. community, the problem of poverty needs to be inspected specifically from the standpoint of class disparities and the mismanagement of the social capital within the American community. Thus, the sociocultural and socioeconomic underpinnings of the current situation can be seen as the direct effect of the misplaced values and the problem within the current social structure of the U.S. community. By deconstructing the current social hierarchy and values, particularly, the increasing power of classism within the U.S. community, one will be able to isolate the factors causing poverty to spread. As a result, solutions to the rapid and uncontrollable increase in poverty rates can be suggested. Specifically, opportunities for restoring equality and equity within the American community will arrive.

Works Cited

Chambers, Dustin, Patrick A. McLaughlin, and Laura Stanley. “Regulation and Poverty: An Empirical Examination of the Relationship between the Incidence of Federal Regulation and the Occurrence of Poverty across the US States.” Public Choice, vol. 180, no. 1, 2019, pp. 131-144. Web.

Jordan, Jessica A., Joanna R. Lawler, and Jennifer K. Bosson. “Ambivalent Classism: The Importance of Assessing Hostile and Benevolent Ideologies about Poor People.” Basic and Applied Social Psychology, vol. 43, no. 1, 2021, 46-67. Web.

Uluğ, Özden Melis, Nevin Solak, and Betül Kanık. “Shared Humanity, Awareness of Socio-Economic Privilege, and Classism during the Pandemic as Predictors of Supporting Equal Socio-Economic Policies.” Current Psychology, 2021, pp. 1-13. Web.

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