Poverty And Social Structure Pitzak, Chris Soc. 422 Dr. Heaton May 17, 1999 POVERTY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURES Although the United States is one of the richest countries in the world many of it’s people sleep in the streets, dig through garbage cans to find food, and carry all that they own in this world on their backs or in shopping carts. These people are known as the homeless. Recently I had the opportunity of helping, and at the same time being educated by one of the members of this unfortunate group. I was able to experience first hand how a homeless person thinks and feels through an intimate means of communications popularly known as writing notes. Why writing notes? Because the individual that I invited into my home and fed was both deaf and mute.
He was male, middle aged, and of African American decent. Needless to say it was a conversation unlike any I have ever had. In this paper, I plan to detail the observations I made during our interaction, specifically addressing how social structures form a key element in both the lives of the affluent and indigent. I met Reggie through some of my friends. He was homeless and in need of help. One night he knocked on my door and wrote on his piece of paper, may I come in? I nodded affirmatively and motioned him to have a seat on the couch. After retrieving a pad of paper and pen, we began to communicate.
We began with a couple of trivial questions and then I asked if he would like something to eat. He responded by writing yes please on his pad of paper and I quickly prepared some of the food we had in our refrigerator. As he ate, I asked him about himself and how he had arrived at the position he was currently in. He said he was from Virginia and was Mormon. He had been baptized there and learned that there were a large number of Mormons in Utah, and for that reason decided to move to out here.
He had a car and so he packed his few belongings and came out to live with a people who had the love of Christ and would be more accepting. He obtained a minimum wage job and even a small apartment. Things seemed to be going good. After a short period of time Reggie lost his job because he missed too many days without notifying his employer, a result of his genetic disabilities, and shortly after could not pay rent. At the time I talked with him he was living in his old beat up car, trying to find a meal.
Why did Reggie find himself in this impoverish state, and why was he unable to climb out of it? I believe it is largely because of social structures, namely his networks. When individuals form networks or groups they tend to associate with those who are like them. Equity theory explains this by claiming that people are most satisfied with a relationship when the ratio between benefits and contributions is similar for both partners. This would infer that networks would exist between those within a specific class but not across classes. By forming associations with those of equitable status, the rich form a very supportive network and the poor form a network that can sympathize with their situation at best.
Networks are vital to class mobility in that they are critical in molding life chances, providing.