young and middle adulthood
How can poverty impact the lives of individuals in young and middle adulthood? It can impact them in a multitude of ways. It can have an impact on education, socialization, and general health, to name a few. When living in poverty, individuals in young adulthood can’t afford to even of think of going to college- if they were even able to finish high school. Adults in middle adulthood, because of their lack of education, may have extreme difficulty finding a job and supporting themselves or a family. In terms of socialization, young adults miss out on a ton of opportunities to hang out with friends, as activities usually cost money.
For middle adults, entertaining others may be difficult, as those activities also cost money, as well as living conditions may not be suitable for such activities. General health: for young adults, proper nutrition and exercise are key. However, again, money comes into play. Exercising can cost money, from gym memberships to sneakers. Fresh food costs an insane amount of money as compared to fast or pre-prepared food. In middle adulthood, health concerns such as weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease can become more prevalent. Let’s not forget the emotional toll constantly worrying about money can take on a person.
It can be argued that poverty is a cultural characteristic as opposed to individual. Often, children who grow up in poverty end up living their whole life in poverty (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2014). There are multiple accounts of people feeling guilty for leaving their families behind as they become successful; there are also accounts of family members accusing individuals of thinking they’re “better” than others for finishing school or moving out of a “bad” area because they can now afford it. If a child grows up in poverty and in a disadvantaged area, goes to school in that area, sees many unemployed and no one dreaming of getting out, why would they?
While it can be argued that it’s a tad bit socialist-y, the Conflict Theory as it relates to poverty resonated with me. The Conflict Theorists beliefs that “…poverty can best be dealt with by the poor becoming politically aware and organizing to reduce inequality through government action” (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2014, pg. 571). As a social worker, this would be a great philosophy to have in terms of encouraging clients to advocate for themselves. It would also be great, as a social worker, in terms of advocating for clients. It is also a chance to get the “higher ups” involved: bringing the CEO of a company into the neighborhood of some of his/her workers to see how they live and what the wages they get actually buy.
While I’m a fan of this theory, a problematic element could be actually how one goes about advocating for clients or getting in contact with higher ups in the company. It may not be feasible in practice to bring CEOs to neighborhoods, but perhaps some ideas could be modified to get the same point across.
Zastrow, C. H., & Kirst-Ashman, K. K. (2016). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.