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Individual explanations of poverty are easier to accept than structural explanations?

Latest QuestionsCategory: SociologyIndividual explanations of poverty are easier to accept than structural explanations?
HawkeHawke asked 5 years ago

My sociology homework says that it’s easier for the Average American to accept individual explanations of poverty than structural explanations. What does that even mean and why is that?

1 Answer
Sandstorm answered 5 years ago

It will help if you have some understanding of the distinction between an individual and a structural explanation.  We’re dealing with causes… What causes poverty?  Individual explanations could include traits of individuals who are poor.  Can you think of some?.. Hint:  Being lazy.  Structural explanations involve aspects of the society that can cause someone to be poor.  Hint:  Segregated housing & neighborhood schools..  Some parts of town are composed of cheap housing which causes poor and minority people to get concentrated there.  The kids who live in those neighborhoods all go to neighborhood schools which, because real estate taxes are low, don’t have a lot of money to hire good teachers or to buy computers and other materials.  The kids end up with a lousy education which means they can’t get good jobs and become the next generation of poor people.  Can you see why the two explanations aren’t equally easy to understand?  Plus we get to blame poor people for their poverty with the individual explanation.  It takes us off the hook about trying to do something about it.  Regards.