SOCIAL CLASS INEQUALITY – A LOOK AT POVERTY
(assignment adapted from Newman, David M. 2008. Sociology: Exploring the Architecture of Everyday Lift. 7th Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.)
You will turn in a 3-page essay addressing all of the aspects detailed below. Your paper must be typed, single-spaced, 12 font, Times New Roman, with 1-inch margins. Also, you must document where you gathered your information -you must include your sources. You will upload your document to the course Dropbox. You must submit the paper by the deadline in order to receive credit.
Even people whose income is well above the poverty line can sometimes find it difficult to make ends meets. Imagine a family of four living in your hometown. Suppose that both parents work, and that one child is 7 years old and in elementary school, and that the other child is 3 years old and must be cared for during the day.
First, make a list of all the goods and services this family will spend money on each month. Be as complete as possible. Consider food (groceries, dining out, school/daycare lunches), clothing, housing, transportation (car payment, registration, insurance, bus tickets, etc.), medical care, child care, entertainment, vacation, and so on. For this initial list, you are not trying to work within a budget or guess/estimate the family income. Rather, you are simply thinking of everything you possibly can that the family would spend money on each month and adding up these expenses.
Estimate the minimum monthly cost of each item. If you currently live on your own and must pay these expenses yourself, use those figures as a starting point (but remember that you must estimate for a family of four). If you live in a dorm or at home, ask one of your parents (or anyone else who pays bills) what the expenses are for such goods and services. Call a local daycare center to see what it charges for child care or look on the internet for local day care facilities and fees. Go to the local supermarket and compute the family food budget. For those expenses that aren’t divided on a monthly basis (e.g., clothing, household appliances), estimate the yearly cost and divide by 12. You MUST create a thorough list of everything you can think of that the family will spend money on each month.
Once you have estimated the total monthly expenses, multiply by 12 to get the subsistence budget for the family of four. Next, compare your total to that of the government’s official poverty line for a family of four, which is $24,250.00. If your estimate is higher than the government’s official poverty line, what sorts of items could you cut out of the budget to get it as close as possible to $24,250? By looking for ways to cut expenses from your minimal subsistence budget, you will get a good sense of what everyday life in poverty is like. Try very hard to make cuts to your total budget so that you get as close as possible in the end to $24,250.00. You will attach the initial list and the final list to the end of your paper.
In the paper, itself, you should discuss what you included in your initial list, and then discuss what cuts you made to get the budget as close as possible to $24,250.00. In your paper, be sure to describe the quality of life of this hypothetical family if their budget must be limited to $24,25.00. You should assume that the family does NOT qualify for government aid (that they make just enough money to live above the official poverty line and do not qualify for any type of assistance). What sorts of things are they forced do without that a more affluent family might simply take for granted (e.g., annual vacations, pocket money, a savings account, a second-car,-eating o once a week)? What would be the impact of poverty on the lives of the children? How will the family’s difficulty in meeting its basic subsistence needs translate into access to opportunities -education, jobs, health care- for the children later in life?
Do not forget to show all of your work – your initial calculations, your adjustments (should be attached in a chart, not included as part of the written paper. Also, be sure to include where your numbers are coming from (websites, phone calls to places, information from parents, yourself, etc.). Remember, your paper must be written in essay format, and must be about 3 single-spaced pages (this does not include the table/calculations page).
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