Poverty in Young and Middle Adulthood Response

I’m stuck on a Social Science question and need an explanation.

Respond to at least two colleagues in one of the following ways:

  • Critique your colleague’s explanation of how poverty impacts individuals in young and middle adulthood.
  • State whether you agree or disagree with your colleague’s position on whether poverty is the result of cultural or individual characteristics. Provide support for your position.
  • Reply to a colleague who selected a theory of poverty that differs from the one you selected by critiquing his or her evaluation of the theory.

Be sure to support your posts with specific references to the resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.

Colleague 1: Jessica

Effects of Poverty

Poverty in young and middle adulthood can impact an individual’s entire life from nutrition and housing to their self-concept (Zastrow et al., 2019). Individual’s who experience poverty are more likely to have poor hygiene and live in substandard housing (Zastrow et al., 2019). They are more likely to come into contact with roaches and other pests that could damage the individual’s health (Zastrow et al., 2019). Poverty can lead to negative impacts on an individual’s self-concept, poverty in society is seen as a negative, someone who experiences poverty is second class to those who do not, therefore that individual’s self-esteem lowers based on these constant reminders through societal norms (Zastrow et al., 2019). Society constantly places negative view on individual’s who experience poverty and in many cases that can lead to a low self-concept and an acceptance that the individual will never more socioeconomic classes (Zastrow et al., 2019).

Poverty: Individual or Cultural Characteristics

Poverty is a result of individual characteristics that perpetuate the culture of poverty. Individuals who are experiencing poverty tend to want instant gratification, many times this is because poverty has lessened their self-concept and they do not believe their actions can bring them out of poverty (Zastrow et al., 2019). Zastrow et. al., (2019) stated that it is very unlikely that an individual will ever move up socioeconomic classes. A constant reminder and lack of evidence enables individuals to continue exhibiting behaviors that lead them to continue experiencing poverty (Zastrow et al., 2019).

Conflict Theory and Poverty

Conflict theory emphasizes that society has a need for individuals to experience poverty; individuals experiencing poverty serve as a benefit to those who are higher in the socioeconomic food chain (Zastrow et al., 2019). In practice as a social worker looking at poverty through the conflict theory gives a way for motivation and empowerment to move up in the socioeconomic food chain (Zastrow et al., 2019). Conflict theory states that the only end poverty is for the individuals who are experiencing poverty to become politically aware and take action through the government (Zastrow et al., 2019). If individuals could be motivated to lessen the actions that perpetuate the culture of poverty and become politically aware, and lobby for change with government officials; they could break the cycle of poverty. It could be problematic as a social worker to find avenues for these individuals to attend college or schooling to be able to become politically aware and involved while also ensuring their families are safe and have a roof over their head and a meal on the table. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs comes into play and safety, shelter and nutrition become the necessity over education and involvement (Zastrow et al., 2019).


Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human

behavior and the social environment (11thed.). Cengage Learning.

Colleague 2: Marlisa

Explanation on how poverty impacts individuals in young and middle adulthood

Poverty can lead to limited ability to have resources and meet the most basic needs for individuals, further it can contribute to deterioration in mental health with feelings of hopelessness, and despair. It can be cyclical, where people born into poverty remain in same condition. The physical environment is more likely to be polluted, with higher rates of crime, and sadly infant mortality rates are higher (Hessenauer, 2019, 551-553). Considering these matters, poverty impacting the young and middle adult, where transitions take place, marriages are falling apart at rates of 50%, poverty is a social problem, it is an individual problem, and for some it serves a purpose.

Poverty a result of cultural or individual position

Hessenauer (2019) notes in the culture of poverty theory Lewis developed where he, viewed the external environment being a contributing factor to the individuals attitudes and conforming to their situation created by economic depravity, and developing attitudes of hopelessness, despair, hence this culture of poverty (555). Much of these attitudes centered around feelings of inferiority, dependency, there is little deferred gratification, which is later described by Leacock as a more middle class value (555). Leacock argued against this theory of culture of poverty, but the result from them continuing to be in poverty. Regarding poverty, my statement is a combination of both ideologies cultural and individual, people adapt to their environments (home, physical, work), they take on the norms, values and generally follow both written and unwritten rules of these environments. This is noted by the whole concept of the stratification system, people born into these different spheres adapt, cope, and live within the boundaries. As noted in our text, there is enough financial resources in this country for individuals in the top sphere to eliminate poverty with a redistribution of income/ resources to those in the lower sphere (557), however that is not part of their rules, culture, or norms. From the individual perspective, their are individuals who rely on the social welfare systems to solve problems, yet there are systemic issues such as not enough resources to help individuals better their situations, as such perpetuating a life of poverty.

Theory of poverty, aspects suitable, and problematic for practice

Reviewing the three theories Functional, Conflict, and Interactionist on poverty, I thought of issues like power and privilege, but the only one that made sense from some aspects of it was the Conflict theory. In as much as every society has societal problems and the poor have been around since biblical times, to completely eradicate the problems of poverty and the poor is unrealistic. The Conflict theory, helped to provide a guide line in identifying systemic problems to provide better social welfare programs, By creating a political voice helps with the redistribution of power, influence with the social issues. The problem lies in the very real and severe issues people in poverty face. Where some cannot get identification to go and register to vote, that being said there is more of a desire for them to have the basic needs met such as food, shelter, medical, and the sad reality is being able to vote on an issue is low on the priority list, if it even makes it on their “to do” list.


Hessenauer, C.Z.K.K.K.S. L. (2019). Empowerment Series: Understanding Human Behavior and the Social Environment. [MBS Direct]. Retrieved from https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/#/books/97813376…


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