Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reaction to Mark Rank and poverty

Here is a student reaction essay about an article about the research of Mark Rank.

In the first few weeks of class, we have talked a great deal about the issue of poverty. We have discussed how many people in America are currently living in poverty, how poverty is affecting people worldwide, and what our personal views on this situation are. One of the articles provided for reading on this topic comes from the Washington University in St. Louis magazine. The article discusses research on poverty conducted by Mark Rank, who is a professor of Social Work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.
In the beginning of the article, Ranks poses a challenge to readers. He asks everyone to close their eyes for a moment and to imagine what “poor” people look like. He then asks what images came to mind; was in an image of a woman with several children counting food stamps in the grocery store line? A person of color who lacks the desire to work hard in order to get out of poverty? One of the main goals of Rank’s research is to debunk common misconceptions about people living in poverty. For example, many believe that people who are living on welfare have a lot of children. Rank’s research disproves this. His research found that the birthrates of women who are living in poverty are slightly less than the overall rate. Another myth on poverty Rank’s research disproved is the myth that most welfare recipients are inner-city African Americans. According to his studies, two-thirds of people who receive welfare are white. More whites receive welfare than blacks overall. His research also tells us that welfare is not commonly passed on from generation to generation. Rank found that only 1 out of 4 welfare recipients had parents who also received welfare benefits.
I found this article very fascinating. I think Rank’s research provides a great deal of information with statistical evidence to disprove common misconceptions about poverty. It is very important that people are properly informed about what is actually going on, not just being constantly bombarded with false information.  I think people who are not living in poverty are afraid to hear that all of the typical myths about poverty and people who receive welfare benefits, because the myths give them a feeling of comfort because the myths tell them that people living in poverty are different than them. They either “brought it upon themselves” or grew up in a family that lived in poverty and they are continuing the cycle. If they are “different” from people living in poverty, then they think they could never end up in that situation. I also really like how Rank points out that many people think of people living in poverty as being “over there”, far away from where they are. I agree with Rank’s reason for why some people in middle and upper class think this way. It’s because they feel less guilty and don’t feel like they have any obligation to help them. Overall, this article was very informative and I think even though it is not very long, I think people can get a lot out of it.

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