Social Diverty And Poverty In America

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What is viewed as immoral changes as society changes. However, across America’s history, whatever is tied to immorality seems to also be tied to the perception of the poor. Stereotypes about what it means to be poor and certain behaviors of the poor have always had the connotation that these behaviors are immoral, that is, seen as deviant, unclean, and undeserving of any help. Indeed, “throughout American history- and arguably to this day- poverty has been blamed on poor morals and poor habits” (Wagner, 2005, p. 57). The idea is that people who are poor have somehow made themselves poor through their own moral misdeeds, and the only way out of poverty is to reclaim a pure and moral work ethic to rejoin society and to be deserving of public aid. As an example of the thread of the poor being tied to perceived immorality, the nineteenth century in America gave us poorhouses, which separated the “unclean” poor from those who worked hard for a living. In the twentieth century, a shift in society’s views of single mothers caused these single mothers to be viewed as immoral, resulting in a significant decrease in assistance given via Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), now Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), as part of the welfare reform that occurred in 1996. Both of these policies in American history highlight the public desire to shun those who are viewed as immoral, putting much of the stigma on the poor that actively inhibits the poor from
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