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Final Exam Essay Question: Worth 14 points

The Welfare Debate: The Deserving and the Underserving Poor

Throughout U.S. history, Americans have divided the poor into two types: the deserving and the undeserving. The deserving poor are people who are thought to be poor
through no fault of their own. Most of the working poor, such as the Lewises, are considered deserving:

Nancy and Ted Lewis are in their early 30s and have two children. Ted works three part-time jobs, earning $15,000 a year; Nancy takes care of the children and house
and is not employed. To make ends meet, the Lewises rely on food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 (a federal housing subsidy).

The undeserving poor stand in sharp contrast. They are viewed as bringing poverty on themselves. They are considered freeloaders who waste their lives in laziness and
alcohol and drug abuse. They revel in partying and promiscuous sex. They don’t deserve help. If given anything, they will waste it on their immoral lifestyles. Some
would see Joan as an example:

Joan, her mother, and her two brothers and two sisters lived on welfare. Joan started having sex at 13, bore her first child at 15, and now, at 23, is expecting her
fourth child. Her first two children have the same father, the third a different father, and Joan isn’t sure who fathered her coming child. Joan parties most nights,
using both alcohol and whatever drugs are available. Her house is filthy, the refrigerator is bare, and social workers have threatened to take her children.

This division of the poor into deserving and undeserving underlies the heated debate about welfare. “Why should we use our hard-earned money to help them? They are
just going to waste it. Of course, there are others who want to get back on their feet, and helping them is okay.”


In contrast to thinking of poor people as deserving or undeserving, use the sociological perspective to explain poverty without blaming the victim. What social
conditions (conditions of society) create poverty? Use at least two of the following concepts to explain your answer: feminization of poverty; gender wage gap; gender
inequality; glass ceiling; and/or institutional discrimination (relating to race). You are required to use at least 3 in-text citations (from the textbook) in your
essay. Aim for about 1-2 pages double-spaced Times New Roman font 12.

Proper APA citation examples: An example of an APA citation for a paraphrased statement is: According to Chambliss and Eglitis (2016), symbolic interactionists argue
that people acquire their sense of self through their interactions with other people.

Another way of doing it is: Symbolic interactionists argue that people acquire their sense of self through their interactions with other people (Chambliss & Eglitis,

Include the following in a reference page: Chambliss, W. and Eglitis, D. (2016). Discover Sociology. Los Angeles: Sage