Poverty In The US

In the US individuals believe that the poor are in that state due to undesirable traits that they posses, they believe that traits such as laziness have made these individuals poor, this laziness is associated with situations where individuals refuse to work, individuals do not complete school or fail to achieve better grades. The American’s have also developed a scapegoat culture of blaming the poor for ill’s done in the society. As a practice, this has made numerous poor Americans to embrace the prevalent notion that they contributed towards the formation of their present situations. For instance, America is the only realm on the planet where being itinerant is considered a crime. Kerbo (p, 423)

Those that do not posses homes are in such situations due to the blunders done by the others. A small fraction of such poor people is indeed destitute because of their own mistakes and as such they are held liable for their state of poverty and homeless. Conversely, from a sociological perception, there are counter arguments for not blaming an individual for poverty and Kerbo (p,

423) argues that as an alternative of perception on poverty, we ought to focus our attention on social stratification and the ability of the elites to define values, social control, and centre on power. Kerbo (p, 424)

Elements of Sociological imagination:

Wright Mills (2000) proposed four elements of sociological imagination that aid in explaining and interpreting social phenomena, this includes the historical element, anthropological element, the structural elements and the critical element. These elements can therefore be used to develop counter arguments for not blaming the individuals for poverty. Kerbo (p, 424)

Poverty In The US

Historical elements:

The historical elements refers to the historical background of a society in order to analyze the social problem in that society, Mills (2000) developed this elements from the industrial revolution of 1780, according to him a number of sociologist analyzed this problem including Weber and Marx, Marx stated that this changes was a result of changes in the organization of economic activities while Weber explained these changes in relation to rationality.

With reference to poverty in the US following the industrial revolution changes occurred in the society, this led to a change from feudalism to capitalism, according to Marx therefore capitalism can be blamed for poverty on the US, this is with reference to his criticism on capitalism whereby he stated that the owners of the means of production were to blame for the problem faced by workers.

Anthropological element:

This is the other elements proposed by Mills (2000) which involves an analysis of culture, using this element poverty can be explained by the culture of individuals in the society, some social groups in the society whereby some groups value social harmony, social harmony refers to a society that does not value wealth therefore individuals in these groups are poor due to their culture. Other social groups’ are economic oriented and therefore they value wealth, these groups are characterized by social class, competition and conflict, as a result therefore there is

Poverty In The US

constant struggle to maintain the status quo of individuals leading to reduced poverty levels in these social groups.

Structural element:

According to the social class theory the individuals in the society are categorized into classes, according to Marx, this was one of the characteristics of the capitalist society whereby individuals in the society are grouped into capitalists and workers, in a communist society there were no classes and all individuals were equal in terms of wealth. Kerbo (p, 423)

The social class theory states that there are a number of ways in which the individual would move from the one calls to another, this include through education, luck, crime, hard work and inheritance, therefore instead of blaming the poor it is evident that education system which is one way in which an individual can move up the social ladder has failed, people have resulted into crime and other illegal activities. Kerbo (p, 423)

The educational institutions in the society are charged with the responsibility of preparing individuals in the society to achieve higher income levels. However, due to a large number of individuals dropping out of school due to other reasons such as lack of tuition fees has led to poverty among social groups in the society. Therefore the educational institutions should be reformed to allow poor individuals move from one class to another, this include building better schools in areas where poverty prevalence is high. Kerbo (p, 423)

Poverty In The US


Kerbo Harold, Sociology: Social Structure and Social Conflict. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2005

Wright Mills, The sociological imagination. New York: Sage publishers, 2000