Perspectives on Poverty

Perspectives on Poverty

Prompt for Paper Two

In “Perspectives on Poverty,” Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill examine poverty from both cultural and structural (or systemic) perspectives. They acknowledge that the causes of poverty are complex, and so any solutions to the issue must deal with that complexity. Ava Duvernay’s film 13thexplores this concept by looking at both the cultural (political racism, media representation, the belief that ethnic minorities are more likely to be criminal) and systemic (mass incarceration, segregation, voter suppression) ways in which various aspects of American politics and industry contributes to the poverty of minority populations. And, in our final set of articles, we have discussed how both cultural and structural factors, such as opioid and heroin addiction and the disappearance of blue-collar industrial jobs have contributed to the rise of rural poverty in much of America’s “heartland” and the Rust Belt.


By now, you should have a strong sense of how poverty in America is a complex issue without one-fits-all solutions. Some of the writers we have read have focused on highlighting the issues surrounding poverty, while others, such as Haskins and Sawhill, have proposed solutions, such as focusing on education and early intervention.


So, with this in mind, your second assignment is to propose realistic ways in which either or both cultural and structural poverty can be addressed, either by the government or by businesses or individuals. You are required to quote from or refer to at least three of the readings from class, but you can also use your own experiences and beliefs.


Questions for consideration: these are designed to help you think about your argument, but you are not required to answer all of them (or, even, any of them).

Why is there relatively little class mobility? Why is it increasingly difficult to rise to the middle or even upper class?

What factors tend to cause poverty? What factors tend to keep people in poverty?

How does our perception of the “deserving” poor and “undeserving” poor (discussed in Iceland’s article) affect public belief and policy about poverty?

Is it the role of government to intervene to help poor citizens? (Haskins and Sawhill call this the “patriarchal state.”) If so, how can the government intervene? Can the government really change culture?

How does the representation of the poor or of minority populations in the media affect how America, as a whole, tends to view poverty?


Special Note: You are required to quote directly from at least two of the readings and use those quotations as evidence towards your argument. (You can paraphrase from a third or quote directly.) These quotations must be properly cited in MLA format. Learning to use quotations from texts and MLA are requirements for this course.


Paper Requirements

·        The minimum word count requirement for this paper is 1100 words, or just over four pages. This does not include the paper heading or the Works Cited page. Please put the word count at the end of your paper to make sure that you have reached the required word count. You can go over the required word count, but it will not guarantee you a better grade.

·        All papers must be typed and submitted through our Blackboard grade center in .doc or .docx format. No other formats will be accepted.

·        All citations, in-text and on your Works Cited page, must be in correct MLA format. Your papers must also be formatted according to current MLA standard. This is available in the Bedford Handbook or online at the Purdue OWL website.


·        Papers will be submitted electronically and returned electronically. I will send clear instructions via email on how to submit papers, view grades, and view comments in the newest edition of Microsoft Word.

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