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Psychology Of Poverty: Interviews About Attributions For Poverty And Wealth

2031 words - 9 pages

The unequal distribution of wealth in the USA is not a matter of resource distribution simply based on people's own ability or diligence. There are many attributes behind the theme. These attributes are generally categorized into three groups. Firstly, the individualistic explanation refers to the "role of individual in creating their own poverty" (bullock, 1995). Secondly, the "structural" explanations states how "economic and social conditions" (Bullock, 1995) cause poverty. "Fatalistic" explanations, the third type, "emphasizes bad luck, illness and unfortunate circumstances" (Bullock, 1995). In order to look at what people generally relate poverty to, I have interviewed three people of ...view middle of the document...

When asked about poverty in America, Fanny answered with the structural explanation. She thought that "people are poor because they are born into it". According to Fanny, when people are born in a poor family, they will end up being poor because they have to constantly worry about food and shelter, instead of school, which may improve one's qualification to find a better, higher-paid job. Also, poor people tend to live in poorer neighbourhoods, which may have higher crime rates and worse peer influence, distracting one from school work. She also interestingly pointed out that in lower-class neighbourhoods, the vocational centres in high schools nearby mainly give students information about jobs requiring lower qualifications (thus lower pay) because the students need to work for money. The students are less told about college and other opportunities. So the poor are kept in the lower-class status from generation to generation. Similarly, the upper-class people are born into wealth. Usually, a rich family has more accessibility to resources and connections. Even if their children are not very talented, they can "buy education" and help them with family connections to gain good jobs. It is very rare that one can become rich and rise to the upper class all of a sudden, like, through lottery and gambling.The second interviewee named Ron (pseudonym) is a middle-age black man living in Oakland, California. He was born in America and became a Christian at a very young age. He was raised in Virginia and has lived in Central America for some years. In the past 30 years he has moved to the West coast and work an average job.Ron provided two explanations to poverty. First, some people are poor because they are lazy. They do not work hard enough to support their living. Second, poverty has a historical root. Ron showed me a T-shirt with the Ancient Chinese Emporer Qin's Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses to illustrate his answer. He said since the ancient times, some people have already been dominating others. This became the social trend which is reinforced each generation and become so rooted that nobody can change it. Thus, the equal distribution of wealth seems impossible. His explanation was both individual and structural.The third interviewee was Millies (pseudonym), a 20-year-old Chinese girl majoring in Economics in the University of Hong Kong. She identifies with the middle class. Her family is well-off enough to support a family of four. She works part-time as a private tutor to gain pocket money for herself. Since Chinese people speaking Cantonese complies the majority in Hong Kong, Millies does not belong to the minority group, and has little chance to deal with other ethnicities.Millies related poverty to one's environment and opportunities. A poor family cannot afford higher education for children, which in turn decreases their opportunity to get better jobs. Besides, discrimination may happen as people from the lower class are usually given fewer...

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