Intro Paper about Moynihan
The study by Moynihan enabled us to understand the main arguments for the causes of poverty among African Americans. It prompted the then-American community to take the right steps on the way toward overcoming inequality and poverty among citizens of this group. Moynihan’s research on the causes of African Americans’ poverty makes it possible to understand problems associated with this negative phenomenon today. Considering changes that have taken place in recent years and the impact of poverty on other social and ethnic groups, the report by Moynihan and other theories can help to solve such problems and make a plan of action because factors driving poverty are still the same.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan described the main arguments for why African Americans lived in poverty at that time. Even though the study was conducted in 1965, it helps to understand the issue affecting this group today as causes and conditions of living have not changed. At that time, Moynihan was a U.S. senator from New York. His principled position was the fight against poverty and the support of liberal programs (Acs et al. 1). The study by this sociologist showed that the cause of the problem among many African Americans was a high level of families with single parents, including those where a mother brought up children alone. It significantly impeded the achievements of African Americans in both the political and economic spheres (Moynihan). Although the scientist gave sound proof of his point of view, his research was considered rather controversial and criticized by feminists.
The main reason for poverty determined by Moynihan is the growth of single-mother families which can be explained by the culture of living and male unemployment among African-Americans. The research showed that in many cases the problem did not only occur due to the lack of jobs. It mainly happened because of a destructive culture of communication in a ghetto (Moynihan). The author argued that it was shaped by discrimination and a long period of slavery of the previous generations of African Americans.
Discrimination brought up generations of men who did not feel confident. They were not accustomed to hard labor but to being led and lacked good education. In the face of competition in the labor market, it led to unemployment. Consequently, the destruction of families due to material issues occurred. Moreover, African American women began to take an active position and look for jobs that allowed them to raise children without the help of their husbands (Moynihan). As a result, it led to even greater hostility in ghettos.
Moynihan was the first who had precisely identified socio-scientific reasons for the formation of poverty among Afro-Americans and described the essence of the process. The scientist used statistical data to prove the causes of social problems. He made a conclusion using records that showed that the employment rate of African American men and the level of income of African Americans began to differ significantly in the early 70s of the 20th century (Massey and Sampson 317). While earlier these indicators had been parallel, there were significant changes in those years.
As for the social circumstances described by the scientist, nowadays some of them have changed, such as an attitude to a single mother, while others have remained in American society. The problem of unemployment has been relevant until now. It is not only the main reason for material challenges of the individual and society but also the growth of divorces among African Americans in particular. The number of children brought up by single mothers is increasing (72% of all babies in 2011) (Acs et al. 6). It provokes such problems as insecurity, poorer conditions for paid education and personal development, and lower living standards as compared to a usual family.
The social argument that a full family provides more opportunities for the development of the child has remained unchanged for many citizens. Many people still support the scholar’s idea that the country’s government should help the male population to get jobs to save the family, can support it, and avoid a divorce due to income shortages (Acs et al. 7). Followers of this argument believe that the patriarchal family should be an established public institution. Providing jobs will reduce unemployment among African-American men and diminish obstacles to the social mobility of the poor. They believe that a well-developed national program that will provide jobs for men and guaranteed income for the family is a major factor in fighting poverty (Acs et al. 19). The idea is that such social initiatives should be supported and funded by the government since unemployment itself is a major obstacle to changing both the ghetto culture and the life of American society in general.
Even though the laws provide for equality among citizens, the idea of supporting African American men has also remained unchanged. The study of the impact of unemployment on increasing family conflicts has shown that low levels of earnings can affect the mental health of a husband or wife and cause quarrels in the family (Marcus 549). Modern scholars point out that if people change African American men’s experiences, it will help to overcome poverty among citizens of this group.
It is important to positively support and guide young black boys in their adolescence to change their understanding of identity and to teach them to be confident. Scientists emphasize that living in a harsh city environment does not make African-American children unfair or disappointed (Billson 13). Moreover, this psychological experience allows them to form a positive attitude towards different people, a strong ability to communicate, and to appreciate the concept of ‘together’ (Billson 14). The issue that makes them unsure of the future is problems in the family that arise due to poverty and a significant level of unemployment among African-American parents.
The current research shows that support for extended families should be the main source of social assistance to African American citizens. Scientists have investigated the impact of various social relations on the development of depression among those men. The study has shown that large families have a beneficial effect on the psychological health of men in this group (Billson 20). Thus, the support of African-American family preservation by the government will have a significant positive impact on poverty alleviation, both in this community and in society as a whole.
Most social circumstances concerning the family collapse have remained unchanged compared to those described by Moynihan. It still leads to a social gap between African Americans and other social groups. Despite victories gained in the issue of civil law and the protection of civil rights, the destruction of the nuclear family among poor black couples continues and affects future generations of citizens of the country. Modern activists support the ongoing expansion of government programs that help secure social help and support for the family structure (Acs et al. 14). African American communities face negative issues, the resolution of which will allow them to move towards improving living standards independently and changing the culture of communication in areas where they live.
Certain social circumstances have changed significantly. It is a relation to a single mother. Today, women, especially feminists, defend their rights, needs, and beliefs. Most families, where a mother brings up and educates children independently, are perceived by society as full-fledged and capable of harmonious relationships. Moreover, some organizations help such moms to cope with their obligations (Acs et al. 15). These women also create social interaction groups and actively respond to new social decisions, laws, and programs.
All arguments presented by the scientist can be applied to other ethnic minorities, in particular, Hispanics. The number of single mothers is also significantly increasing in Europe. This issue is discussed at the international level as it has a direct impact on the labor market, distribution of labor resources, and the employment of the population (Acs et al. 3). If children are enrolled in general education, vocational schools, and higher education institutions, the financial child support for single mothers continues based on a certificate of an educational institution until the end of education (Acs et al. 3). However, an economic crisis in the world leads to an increase in families where children are raised by one parent.
The statements by Moynihan are similar to those by John Maynard Keynes. The contemporary economic theory considers the questions of the distribution of income in modern society, inequalities, and poverty associated with it within the framework of the fundamental relationship between income equality and the efficiency of the economy (Keynes and Skidelsky 9). In the second half of the thirties of the 20th century, Keynes emphasized that important disadvantages of economic society are its inability to provide full employment as well as unfair and arbitrary distribution of wealth and income. Moynihan also stressed the importance of male employment for African-Americans as a way to overcome poverty. However, Keynes and Skidelsky analyzed more deeply noting two aspects of the distribution problem (10). The first concerns prospects of eliminating large inequalities in the distribution of wealth and income. The second aspect is related to the theory of interest. According to Keynes and Skidelsky, it seemed that it would be the most advantageous to reduce the rate of interest to the magnitude of the marginal efficiency of capital (10). Thus, it would ensure full employment.
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To fully cover this issue, it is necessary to take into account several factors, including political, cultural, regional, social, and economic, which are to be adapted to the specifics of the state system and instruments of the realization of social policy in the USA. It is necessary to clearly define the concept of poverty, which can be interpreted differently. Further, the poverty alleviation plan involves an improvement in natural and geographical factors, such as climate, intensive use of land, reduced fertility, incomplete use of national resources or their lack, as well as energy and economic factors, in particular macroeconomic instability. Inflationary trends, lack of demand and supply elasticity, and inappropriate pricing, which are indicators of the solvency of buyers, also require appropriate measures (Marcus 549). It is worth solving the problem of the lack of jobs, high unemployment, and an excessive tax burden. It is necessary to resolve a weak legal regulation of poverty prevention and elimination, the lack of necessary social infrastructure to regulate mechanisms for tackling the issue, and the impossibility of obtaining education and appropriate professional qualities for an autonomous existence.
In conclusion, Moynihan’s study provided an explanation of poverty among African Americans, including unemployment among black men and the growth of single-mother families. The study explained the reasons for divorces, such as the culture of ghetto communication formed under the influence of slavery and discrimination. The research and its ideas are quite relevant today. However, feminists oppose the unequal treatment of different types of families and criticize this study partially. Keynes’s theory contains ideas similar to those covered in Moynihan’s report and emphasizes the importance of addressing the issue of poverty. The multifaceted approach to the problem is the only way to overcome it.