Analyze theories of poverty as well as poverty’s effects in young and middle adulthood.

Discussion – Week 4

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Discussion: Poverty in Young and Middle Adulthood

Poverty has a strong influence on the lives of adults. When an adult lives in poverty, the effects extend beyond that individual to all those who depend on the adult. The problem of poverty in the life of an adult becomes a family or community problem, and few social problems are more impactful.

Thirty-four million people, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, live in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau, 2020). As a social worker, then, you are likely to address the needs of clients whose adverse circumstances are strongly influenced by this condition. Increasing your understanding of poverty will equip you to better understand and assist your clients.

For this Discussion, you analyze theories of poverty as well as poverty’s effects in young and middle adulthood.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2020, September 15). Income and poverty in the United States: 2019 (Report No. P60-270).

To Prepare:

  • Review the Learning      Resources on sociological aspects of young and middle adulthood, as well      as theories of poverty.
  • From those described      in the resources, select the theory of poverty that most resonates with      you.

By 12/22/2021
Post a Discussion that includes the following:

  • An explanation of how      poverty impacts the experience of individuals in young and middle      adulthood
  • A statement as to      whether poverty is the result of cultural or social factors; provide      support for your position and an example to illustrate it.
  • An answer to the      following questions about the theory of poverty you selected:
    • What       aspects of this theory would be most suitable for your practice? Why?
    • What       aspects of this theory do you find problematic in terms of your knowledge       of social work practice? Explain.

Required Readings

Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

· Chapter 12, “Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood” (pp. 536–603)

Auerbach, M. P. (2021). Cultural theories of poverty. In Salem Press encyclopedia. Salem Press.

Auerbach, M. P. (2021). Social theories of poverty. In Salem Press encyclopedia. Salem Press.

Miller, B., & Bowen, E. (2020). “I know where the rest of my life is going”: Attitudinal and behavioral dimensions of resilience for homeless emerging adults. Journal of Social Service Research, 46(4), 553–570.

Pope, N. D., & Lee, J. (2015). A picture is worth a thousand words. The New Social Worker.

Genogram Software

Wondershare EdrawMax. (n.d.). Online genogram maker.

GenoPro. (n.d.). GenoPro 2020.

Required Media

Walden University, LLC. (2021). Social work case studies [Interactive media]. Walden University Blackboard.

· Navigate to the Hernandez Family.

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Chapter Review Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood 601 

services to accommodate his or her disability. In such a situation, liberals would seek to develop edu-cational services to meet the child’s learning needs. Liberals view the family as an evolving institu-tion, and therefore they are willing to support pro-grams that assist emerging family forms—such as single-parent families and same-sex marriages.

Developmental Perspective Liberals for years have criticized the residual ap-proach to social welfare as being incongruent with society’s obligation to provide long-term assistance to those who have long-term health, welfare, social, and recreational needs. Conservatives, on the other hand, have been highly critical of the institutional approach as they claim it creates a welfare state in which many recipients simply become dependent on the government to meet their health, welfare, social, and recreational needs—without seeking to work and without contributing in other ways to the well-being of society. It is clear that conservatives will attempt to stop the creation of any major social program that moves the country in the direction of being a welfare society. They have the necessary leg-islative votes to stop the enactment of programs that are “marketed” to society as being consistent with the institutional approach.

Is there a view of social welfare that can gar-ner the support of both liberals and conservatives? Midgley (1995) contends that the developmental view (or perspective) offers an alternative approach that appears to appeal to liberals, conservatives, and to the general public. Midgley defines this approach as a “process of planned social change designed to promote the well-being of the population as a whole in conjunction with a dynamic process of economic development” (p. 25). This perspective has appeal to liberals because it supports the development and expansion of needed social welfare programs. The perspective has appeal to conservatives because it asserts that the develop-ment of certain social welfare programs will have a positive impact on the economy. The general public also would be apt to support the developmental per-spective. Many voters oppose welfare, as they believe it causes economic problems (e.g., recipients living on the government dole, rather than contributing to so-ciety through working). Asserting and documenting that certain proposed social welfare programs will di-rectly benefit the economy is attractive to voters. Midgley and Livermore (1997) note that the de-velopmental approach is, at this point, not very well defined. The approach has its roots in the promo-tion of social programs in developing (Third World) countries. Advocates for social welfare programs in

A developing countries have been successful in get-ting certain programs enacted by asserting and documenting that such programs will have a benefi-cial impact on the overall economy of the country. Midgley and Livermore note, “The developmental perspective’s global relevance began in the Third World in the years of decolonization after World War II” (p. 576). The United Nations later used the developmental approach in its efforts to promote the growth of social programs in developing countries, asserting that such programs had the promise of im-proving the overall economies of these countries. What are the characteristics of the developmen-tal approach? It advocates social interventions that contribute positively to economic development, thus promoting harmony between economic and social institutions. The approach regards economic prog-ress as a vital component of social progress, and it promotes the active role of government in economic and social planning (in direct opposition to the resid-ual approach). Finally, the developmental approach focuses on integrating economic and social develop-ment for the benefit of all members of society. The developmental approach can be used in ad-vocating for the expansion of a wide range of social welfare programs. It can be argued that any social program that assists a person in becoming employ-able contributes to the economic well-being of a soci-ety. It can also be argued that any social program that assists a person in making significant contributions to his or her family, or to his or her community, con-tributes to the economic well-being of a society, as functional families and functional communities are good for businesses. Members of functional families tend to be better employees, and businesses desire to locate in communities that are prospering and that have low rates of crime and other social problems. A few examples will illustrate how the develop-mental approach can be used to advocate for the expansion of social welfare programs. It can be ar-gued that job training, quality child care, and ad-equate health insurance will all benefit the economy because they will help unemployed single parents obtain employment. All of these programs will fa-cilitate the parents being able to work. It can be argued that providing mentoring programs and other social services will help at-risk children stay in school and eventually contributing to society as adults by obtaining employment and contrib-uting to their families and to the communities in which they live. It can be argued that rehabilitative

programs in the criminal justice system will help correctional clients become contributing members of society. It can be argued that alcohol and drug treatment programs, nutritional programs, eating disorder intervention programs, stress manage-ment programs, and grief management programs will help people with issues in these areas to handle them better, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will become contributors to the economy and to the well-being of society.

Chapter Summary The following summarizes this chapter’s content as it relates to the learning objectives presented at the beginning of the chapter. Chapter content will help prepare students to LO 1 Describe the following lifestyles and family forms that young adults may enter into: marriage, cohabitation, single life, parenthood, and the life of a childless couple. In young adulthood, people choose a personal life-style. Choosing a personal lifestyle partly involves making career decisions. Young adults may also enter into a variety of family living arrangements, including marriage, cohabitation, single life, parent-hood, and childless couples. LO 2 Describe three major sociological theories about human behavior: functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism. These are macro-system theories. Three macro-system theories in sociology—functionalism, conflict theory, and interactionism—offer contrasting explanations of human behavior. Functionalism views society and other social systems as composed of interde-pendent and interrelated parts. Conflict theory is more radical, viewing society as a struggle for scarce resources among individuals and social groups. Interactionist the-ory views human behavior as resulting from the interac-tion of a person’s unique, distinctive personality and the groups he or she participates in. LO 3 Understand three social problems that young and middle-aged adults may encounter: poverty, empty-shell marriages, and divorce. One-parent families, blended families, and mothers working outside the home will also be discussed. Those most vulnerable to being poor include one-parent families, children, older adults, large families, people of color, the homeless, those without a high school education, and those living in urban slums.

Three types of empty-shell marriages are devital-ized relationships, conflict-habituated relationships, and passive-congenial relationships. About one of two marriages ends in divorce. Although a divorce is traumatic for everyone in the family, it appears that children become better adjusted when raised in a one-parent family in which they have a good rela-tionship with that parent than in a two-parent family filled with discontent and tension. Becoming more common in our society are one-parent families, blended families, and mothers working outside the home. Poverty affects one-parent families significantly more than it does two-parent families. The formation of a blended family requires substan-tial adjustments by a number of people, including the spouses, the children, the former spouses, and close relatives and friends. Because increasing numbers of mothers are working outside the home, our society needs to expand its effort to make good child-care ar-rangements available to the children in these families.

LO 4 Understand material on assessing and inter-vening in family systems. Problems faced by families tend to be clustered in the following four categories: marital problems between the husband and the wife, conflicts between the par-ents and the children, personal problems of individual family members, and stresses imposed on the family by the external environment. Two family system assess-ment techniques are the ecomap and the genogram.

LO 5 Summarize material on social work with

organizations, including several theories of organi-zational behavior.

Numerous theories provide a variety of perspec-tives for viewing and analyzing organizations. The theories covered include the autocratic model, the custodial model, the scientific management model, the human relations model, Theory X, Theory Y, the collegial model, Theory Z, management by ob-jectives, and total quality management (TQM). Any of these models can be applied successfully in some situations. Material was also presented on Knopf’s (1979) suggestions for social workers surviving and thriving while employed in a bureaucracy.

LO 6 Describe liberal, conservative, and de-velopmental perspectives on human service organizations. Values and assumptions (rather than facts and figures) form the bases of most decisions in organizations. Six

value orientations frequently have an impact on deci-sion making: theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, political, and religious. In regard to value orientations, three diverse

views that have major impacts on human service organizations are the conservative, liberal, and de-velopmental perspectives. Conservatives generally advocate the residual approach to social welfare programs, whereas liberals generally follow an insti-tutional view of social welfare. The developmental perspective offers an alternative approach that ap-pears to appeal to liberals, conservatives, and the general public. It advocates social interventions that contribute positively to economic development.

COMPETENCY NOTES The following identifies where Educational Policy (EP) competencies and behaviors are discussed in this chapter.

EP 6a. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies;

EP 7b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies;

EP 8b. Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions

with clients and constituencies. (All of this chapter.) Material on concepts and theories about human be-havior and the social environment affecting socio-logical aspects of young and middle adulthood are presented throughout this chapter. EP 1 Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (pp. 538, 542, 545, 548, 555, 557, 559, 567, 598, 600) Ethical questions are posed.


See this text’s companion website at for learning tools such as chapter quizzes, videos, and more.


Zastrow, C. H., Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hessenauer, S. L. (2019). Understanding human behavior and the social environment (11th ed.). Cengage Learning.

· Chapter 12, “Sociological Aspects of Young and Middle Adulthood” (pp. 536–603)

Follow Rubric

Initial Posting: Content

14.85 (49.5%) – 16.5 (55%)

Initial posting thoroughly responds to all parts of the Discussion prompt. Posting demonstrates excellent understanding of the material presented in the Learning Resources, as well as ability to apply the material. Posting demonstrates exemplary critical thinking and reflection, as well as analysis of the weekly Learning Resources. Specific and relevant examples and evidence from at least two of the Learning Resources and other scholarly sources are used to substantiate the argument or viewpoint.

Follow-Up Response Postings: Content

6.75 (22.5%) – 7.5 (25%)

Student thoroughly addresses all parts of the response prompt. Student responds to at least two colleagues in a meaningful, respectful manner that promotes further inquiry and extends the conversation. Response presents original ideas not already discussed, asks stimulating questions, and further supports with evidence from assigned readings. Post is substantive in both length (75–100 words) and depth of ideas presented.

Readability of Postings

5.4 (18%) – 6 (20%)

Initial and response posts are clear and coherent. Few if any (less than 2) writing errors are made. Student writes with exemplary grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation to convey their message.