Sociological Issues About Social Class and Poverty, Race and Ethnicity, Gender

Social Class and Poverty

Consequences of poverty in the US

There are two main consequences of poverty that can be defined. The first one is food insecurity, which threatens the well-being of families (Leon-Guerrero). The inability to acquire enough food or get a varied diet negatively impacts people’s health and their capacity to perform other tasks to improve their life situation. Due to a number of reasons, proper nutrition can be harder or more expensive to get for poor people, which worsens the problem even more. The second problem concerns housing. The low income of the poor combined with a rather small selection of comfortable, affordable housing creates a serious risk for many people (Leon-Guerrero). Individuals unable to secure a home are susceptible to many dangers and risks, and often do not enjoy the same quality of life as those who can afford a good place to live.

The Elimination of US Poverty

It is difficult to say whether poverty can be completely eliminated, even in the context of the United States exclusively. The government would need to assist the marginalized groups and impoverished people while giving them an ability to act for themselves and grow. Some of the possible steps for combatting poverty would be: raising the minimum wage, ensuring employment opportunities for all people, universal work benefits, and more affordable housing. By enhancing the quality of life and access to support for people, the government gives them more time and opportunities to improve and move up the social ladder. To oppose poverty the federal government should recognize it as a systemic issue, not an individual one, and strive to make the county more equal for everyone.

Race and Ethnicity

The Difference Between Institutional and Individual Racism

Racism is a complex issue that has been discussed and challenged by many people, and still affects the United States. Racism can be viewed from two different perspectives – as a systematic issue, or as a personal one (Leon-Guerrero). Individual racism describes the discrimination and sentiments of inferiority displayed by one individual towards another. This type of discrimination is local and can be fought by introspection, addressing one’s personal beliefs and prejudices, as well as appropriate punishment.

Institutional racism, however, is much more nuanced than the individual one and requires conscious effort to recognize and solve. Systemic racism describes the policies, customs, and practices that result in the exclusion of certain groups (Leon-Guerrero). Some forms of systemic racism are intentional, others are a result of ignorance or prejudice of their creators. Institutional discrimination can be further divided into three types: segregation, exclusion, or expulsion (Leon-Guerrero). The first, segregation, is the separation of ethnic or racial groups, both physical and social (Leon-Guerrero). Exclusion is the restriction of entry or participation, and expulsion is the removal of a group under the threat of violence of intimidation (Leon-Guerrero). Institutional discrimination has a way bigger impact than a personal one, as it affects more people and is more difficult to notice and actively oppose. Since the systems of discrimination benefit a certain group of people more than others, that group would actively oppose the creation of new systems, making it difficult to change society.

Deficiency and Structural Discrimination Theories of Racial and Ethnic Inequality

There are multiple theories to describe racial and ethnic discrimination. As the instances of discrimination can often wildly differ, it is important to understand the types of injustice people can suffer. Discrimination can be explicit, displayed with an intention to cause harm and discomfort to the affected group, or impose unjust laws and limits. This can be demonstrated by violence or verbal abuse towards a demographic, segregation, or other antagonistic approaches. Unconscious discrimination as a result of biases or prejudices is also an act of discrimination. These subtle beliefs can impact a person’s judgment and treatment of non-white people and conflict with a person’s desire to not be racist.

The last type of discrimination that is important to consider is statistical discrimination. It occurs when an organization uses a set of beliefs about a group of people to judge a person from that group. The perceived characteristics of a group are applied to an individual. The problem is that many of these characteristics stem from bias or racial prejudice, giving an inaccurate representation of both the individual and the demographic. This approach can lead to marginalized groups being denied jobs or housing, unfairly criminally charged and incarcerated. I think that for the United States, the statistical and unconscious discrimination is the most prominent in the current climate. Even in today’s progressive society, the things that people consider true or normal are ultimately shaped by history that often treated minorities poorly. This means that while most people have learned to be more accepted, some of their behaviors are still problematic.

Gender

Role of Toys and Chores in Gender Socialization

The toys children play with in their childhood are an important part of recognizing the traditional gender roles prevalent in society. Through play, kids can learn how different things operate, what types of behavior are considered acceptable and rewarded, and the kinds of activities their gender usually performs. Toys typically marketed to girls are often connected with beauty, child-rearing, and housekeeping, such as dolls, cleaning equipment, cooking utensils, fake jewelry, and accessories. Toys for boys are often broader and more action-oriented, for example, swords, toy guns, various animals, and construction equipment. These products teach children about the basic things that are often associated with their gender and are expected from them when they grow up. Girls are expected to learn how to take care of themselves and others, and the boys are encouraged to protect their families and work hard. In a similar fashion, house chores often differ for children of a different gender. Boys are often asked to fix things or do some general housework, while girls are taught to cook and clean. I myself was taught to clean the house, cook meals, and take care of others with the expectation that these sills will be useful to me as a woman. This kind of training sets the expectations of both genders and gives them the most basic skill set to live in the world.

How Does Sexism Negatively Affect Men

Sexism is one of the issues that is traditionally associated with women, although men suffer from its effects just as much. Sexism often forces unjust expectations of the actions of men and their emotions, setting unachievable standards that negatively impact mental health. Men are often expected to always be stoic and strong, discouraged from sharing their emotions or seeking help. The stereotypical image of men often does not allow them to form strong support circles, leading to many severe consequences, including a higher suicide rate than women. They are also often expected to sacrifice their lives protecting the county and their families, which decreases men’s self-worth drastically. Lastly, there is a belief that men cannot be victims of sexual abuse and assault, discrediting many victims and leading to some of them getting falsely convicted instead of their abusers. If sexism was not an issue, men would be able to enjoy happier, more prosperous lives and stray from the traditional perception of the male gender without the fear of ridicule.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation is a rather new topic that is wildly discussed in all spheres of life. By definition, sexual orientation is the “classification of individuals according to their preference for emotional-sexual relationships and lifestyle” (Leon-Guerrero). One’s orientation is considered to be a social construct because it is formed during the process of socialization and is open to change. The developments of one attraction have implications on their future life and their treatment by others (Leon-Guerrero). Society uses people’s sexual orientation to define and promote normative behavior for all its members. Some people think that heterosexuality is the societal norm and the default by which all other orientations should be judged. This point of view contradicts the more liberal perspective that classifies heterosexual people as privileged and argues for a more balanced system.

The Construct of Deviance in Respect to Homosexuality

Historically, people attracted to the same gender have faced much violence and discrimination. Their behavior is traditionally considered different from the norm, thus, deviant and often unacceptable. Heteronormativity, the perception of heterosexuality as the norm, played a large part in this process. The different sex attraction was used as an example of proper conduct, a benchmark for acceptable human behavior. With heteronormativity being present in many of today’s societies, gay people are often encouraged to “stop” being gay and conform. The crushing expectations can lead to acts of compulsory heterosexuality, a performative presentation of different sex attraction for the sake of acceptance.

Crime and Drugs

Corporate crimes and white-collar crimes are similar in many ways but have their own peculiarities. White-collar crimes are not necessarily violent crimes committed on the job under the prospect of personal gain. These types of crimes are usually done by an individual in a position of power, and usually financially motivated (Leon-Guerrero). Corporate crimes, on the other hand, operate with the interests of a company in mind, or on behalf of a company (Leon-Guerrero). The company in question does not have to be aware of the crimes being committed. They can be accomplished by a number of people sharing the same goal. Corporate crime is usually more damaging, as it affects more people. The practices of a company affect both its employees and its customers, presenting a danger to society. For example, the healthcare company Johnson & Johnson has been tried for concealing the negative effects of their products and including asbestos in their talcum powder. Their actions present a serious health risk to their customers and violate multiple laws. Another big company, Asia Pulp and Paper, was found out to have been profiting from the destruction of the Indonesian rainforest, endangering the environment.

The Death Penalty

In the US, the use of the death penalty has been promoted as a way to deter crime and punish certain criminals, although its effectiveness is questionable. The threat of death is not significant to a person that has decided to commit a serious crime, as such people are aware of the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, most criminals that qualify for the death penalty would get a life-long sentence, which is an acceptable outcome for them. The main problem with constituting a death penalty is that it disproportionally targets black people (Leon-Guerrero). Due to the racism and prejudices in the justice system, black people are more likely to get harsher sentences than their white counterparts, meaning they are more likely to be on the death penalty.

Work Cited

Leon-Guerrero, Anna. Social Problems: Community, Policy and Social Action. SAGE, 2019.

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