Sociology of Poverty Final | Homework Help


Question 1

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Critically discuss how the New Racial Politics and Social Policy in the Nixon years (1970’s) and Reagan and Bush years (1980) affected women and people of color. Also, discuss the factors that set the stage for the New Racial Politics.


Prior to the 1970s, the use of racial terms proved to be effective in politics. Using race as a scapegoat for a number of the nation’s issues proved to be very effective when it came to passing different objectives through congress. However, by the 1970s blatant racism was no longer of use in politics. The Republican Party began to realize that in order to maintain their longevity they needed to create a new image for themselves. The Republican Party began to separate themselves from the old right wing, which consisted of white supremacy groups, segregationists, and anti-semites. This change was needed to prove that the Republican Party could keep up with the times and was done in hopes that they would be able to gain more support.

However, this change didn’t mean that the Republican Party had lost any of its discriminatory factors. Racism was now depicted through the use of code words and symbols, like the use of the words All-American and underclass. Richard Nixon predominantly used this racial coding system with the help of the then governor of Alabama, George Wallace. Wallace expressed opposition to civil rights, although he claimed that he believed in equal opportunities. Nixon adopted Wallace’s idea of the War on Poverty and the Civil Rights Movement being products of liberal ideas that were becoming costly on the miIDle class, working class, and poor whites after his 1968 election.

In order to reinforce the racial beliefs that Nixon held, he appointed a strict constructionist as a judge who was anti-black, anti-women, and anti-poor. Through this Nixon allowed the market to dictate how things would be down with no government involvement. This ensured that the social programs which provided services to the poor and people of color would receive as little support as possible. In aIDition to these legislations, Nixon created a law called Law and Order. This law allowed the federal government to really buckle down and come full force at a number of minorities, especially social movements. This law led to the downfall of the black panthers.

Nixon still needed two things to happen which would back up his social policy agenda. Nixon needed to divide the constituents of the Democratic Party and create a conservative political base among less affluent whites that once supported the Democratic Party. The implementation of the Family Assistance Plan (FAP) was implemented in order to gain the favor of the less affluent whites. Nixon referred to it as a new approach to welfare. It was meant to assist those who were below the poverty line and give them the motivation to work. FAP was used to replace aid to family of dependent children with guaranteed income for working and nonworking poor. However there were a number of conditions that came along with FAP. It eliminated the right to a fair hearing if one’s welfare was terminated which eliminated equal opportunities for welfare. Also since so much emphasis was placed on work, if work was available and one refused to do it their benefits could be denied. These conditions caused blacks to stay in a locked position where they were forced to work for the minimum wage, which provided businesses with cheaper labor.

Nixon also implemented the Philadelphia Plan. This plan required poor contractors who were working on federally funded projects to have numerical goals to ensure that there was no segregation within the workplace. If there was a disproportionate amount of one group, it had to be balanced out by hiring other races. Unions were able to control that would get certain jobs and salaries, however this plan allowed the government to bypass the union and provide blacks with more opportunities. This provided Nixon with the opportunity to potentially split up the democratic constituency. The Civil Rights Movement supported the Philadelphia Plan because it provided blacks with an opportunity to find a way to get around the union. Although neither plan passed, they did provide more opportunities. Nixon increased the staff of the EEOC from 369 to 12,640 and also increased it’s budget. Also, the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 prohibited discrimination in the government in all levels. This provided people of color with a number of employment opportunities in the public sector. Although this happened, racial politics did continue into the Reagan and Bush years.

After the Vietnam War, a large amount of money had been drained which led to the cutback of some funding for social policies. Minorities were used as a scapegoat as to why the nation was going through such a tough time financially. Think tanks were developed to formulate, legitimize, and publicize a political program that links race to family values, crime, poverty and the inner city. The Republican Party gained support for cutting social policy by expressing that excess government and unproductive public expenditures, especially those aimed at helping the poor and racial minorities (Williams, 184) was the reason why the economy wasn’t at a good position. Shortly after, the government got rid of Ceta programs and replaced them with job training acts. Also, the urban development action branch was eliminated and 400k people were removed from food stamps. The changes in government policy during this time accounted for 87% of poverty in households that were headed by black females, proving that they were clearly racially motivated.

Question 2

Discuss in detail how (1) political forces rooted in legacy of the great society; (2) the democratic controlled congress; (3) various bureaucrats within the Welfare state; civil rights organizations etc. prevented Reagan/Bush administrations from fulfilling their promise to fundamentally cut-back on social policies, eliminate affirmative action and dramatically transform the American Welfare state.


Reagan and Bush both sought to cut social policy programs like the voting rights act, affirmative action, welfare benefits, and Medicaid. However, their efforts were futile due to a number of circumstances. Political forces rooted in the legacy of the great society, the democratic controlled congress, and the various bureaucrats within the Welfare State prevented Reagan and Bush from taking action.

A number of bureaucrats within the welfare state defended social welfare from further cuts, especially through their unions. Also, the equal opportunity act helped to slow their efforts down. State, county, municipal, and special district agencies created campaigns to prevent further destruction to their programs. Court officials and governors all had interest conversion to keep the benefits for the poor.

Civic, social worker, historical civil rights organizations, and minority business associations also fought for the maintenance of the welfare state. The reason being is that a number of their clients were poor people and they needed the money provided by welfare programs in order to help their clients. AARP mobilized to educate the public about the significance of the cuts that Reagan was proposing.

The democrats also held control of congress at the time, which made it impossible for any of Reagan or Bush’s cuts to go through. The growth of Blacks, Latinos, and women within in the House of Representatives provided even more of a block to the Republicans plans. The democrats decided to join together as a party to create a congressional voting block, which opposed bills that would result in limiting or reducing social service programs. This strategy didn’t provide as much success as their second strategy did. Democrats began to attach programs and agencies that were in danger of being eliminated to Republican bills that they knew would pass.

Question 3

What strategies did President Clinton use to reduce the political salience of race and retain African American and Latino political support?


In order to reduce political salience of race Clinton went through a number of measures to ensure he was on everyone’s good side. President Clinton had to let whites know that the Democratic Party wasn’t one of just special interests without losing the support of the minority groups, which also supported him. To do this, the Democratic Party had to ensure that the working and miIDle classes’ economic needs were met.

Reagan and Bush’s administrations showed that racism still existed. The Federal Reserve Bank researches showed that there was still a large amount of discrimination against blacks and latinos in the labor and housing markets. Also Reagan made a multitude of jokes about welfare queens, never met with the congressional black caucus, and never remembered the name of the only black person in his cabinet. To blacks, Clinton was a breathe of fresh air because he provided some hope.

Clinton’s first strategy in office to keep the minority support while still satisfying whites was to eliminate the racial symbols that had been ingrained into society. Also in order to portray a new image for the Democratic Party, Clinton had to no longer be soft on crime. He began to advocate for more police funding without truly touching on the issue of race. This provided the image that he was moving away from specifically focusing on racial minorities, which he needed to keep the support of many democratic whites. Clinton spoke about responsibility as well. This was a coded word used to stay in good relations with whites who viewed minorities as lazy due to the welfare queen images that were previously portrayed. Also, Clinton began to emphasize universal policies rather than race specific ones. He pledged to create a universal healthcare system, which would provide for everyone and proposed to raise the minimum wage.

Clinton was able to keep a strong hold on support from minorities for a number of reasons. One being that Clinton actually grew up around African Americans and faced a number of the same economic trials as the poor ones. This gave him empathy for their situation. Also, Clinton had a history for speaking out against racism. He once wrote a letter at the University of Arkansas speaking against the racist practices in the ROTC. Before his presidency, Clinton testified against the nomination of the conservative Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Clinton stated that he was uncompromisingly opposed to the nominee, given Bork’s anti-civil rights record, his right-wing views, and the potential of his nomination to reopen racial wounds (Williams, 222). Clinton also spoke out against the Rodney King trials stating that the verdict tapped into feelings of hurt and frustration, especially for the forgotten and left behind (Williams 222). For these reasons, African Americans had a greater comfort level with Clinton.

Had Clinton’s policies actually happened, there would’ve been a number of positive impacts in the lives of African Americans. One would’ve been to raise caps on damages in workplace discrimination cases. Another was to support statehood for DC and sign the Motor Voter Bill which would allow an easier voter registration process. The next was to appoint more people of color and women and the last was to end tax incentives that encourage and allow companies to move overseas and require them to raise the minimum wage.

Question 4

Critically discuss President Clinton’s crime bill and its effect on people of color. Also discuss the failure of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and other Black organizations to oppose the crime bill.


President Clinton wanted to establish that he is more conservative in the area of crime, to bypass the image of democrats being soft on crime. This required Clinton to change both the Democrats take on crime and exploit the politics of race. A Gallup poll in 1988 should that only 24% felt that Democrats could better handle crime. Because Clinton needed this tougher image, he elevated the crime issue, and it rose on the governmental agenda (Williams 238).

Clinton began to endorse three strikes you’re out in January 1994. More people cared about crime in 1994 than they did in 1982. Clinton, while still wanting to seem more conservative, he wanted to be in the center of both sides. He had to change the Democrats view on crime but he couldn’t lose the support of his African American constituents. Then in 1992 Clinton proposed the crime bill to Congress, which included both prevention and punishment. Clinton had two strategies, he had to redefine the crime issue as a gun control issue and challenge the liberals’ support for civil liberties and their opposition to the death penalty. By redefining the crime issue as a gun control issue, Clinton called for more police funding. He also realized that throughout society there was a rising support for gun control.

Clinton believed that the congressional black caucus would oppose this bill. There was nothing in the bill that aIDressed the racial biases that existed in the criminal justice system. The crime bill ended up making problems in the system even worse for blacks. Also, very little attention was given towards certain issues in the black community like youth violence and murders that were the result of police misconduct, racial profiling, or the prison industrial complex.

The Congressional Black Caucus and other black organizations didn’t successfully oppose the bill because they weren’t unified. However, the Congressional Black Caucus did openly express that they were opposed to the crime bill. The NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus were able to come together and form a coalition that proposed a bill called the Racial Justice Act of 1994. This bill said that inmates subject to the death penalty would now be able to use statistical information in their appeal to determine whether or not race was a determining factor in them being sentenced to death row. They didn’t have enough support for the bill so the coalition decided to negotiate with Clinton. Clinton decided to attach the Racial Justice Act to the Crime Bill. This then allowed Clinton to divide black leaders and conquer the black community. He even went as far as to speak at many black churches and invite the ministers back to the white house and convince them to drop their opposition to the bill.

Black organizations weren’t able to mobilize against the bill. They held no protests or campaigns in opposition. These interest groups also failed to produce enough research to prove that the death penalty was biased. There was also no use of mass media to spread their ideas. This was just a working class issue and it didn’t matter to the general constituency of these organizations. MiIDle class blacks didn’t see that the issue of crime was even their problem.

Question 5

Critically discuss the background factors/conditions that led up to the 1996 Welfare Reform. Be sure to also discuss the stereotypical image of welfare recipients; the deficit; the Contract with America; tax expenditures for business and the hiIDen welfare for the affluent; coded messages, etc.


There were a number of things that led up to the 1996 Welfare Reform. After Bush’s term the 1992 budget deficit was nearly $350 billion. The deficit in the budget had a great impact on politics of that time. Attention was now moved away from individual programs to more broad topics about the scope of government. Successful programs held little interest to congress. Congress was more concerned with less intrusive government. This also gave preexisting social policies an advantage over new policies; the government was already struggling and couldn’t afford to take on new politics.

Things were being buckled down because for the first time in 40 years the Republicans had control over the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Republican Party wanted to put a halt to any talk of welfare reform so that they could get a more conservative form of the reform passed. Republicans focused much of their attention on welfare reform. Although blacks were the lowest beneficiaries of welfare, Republicans continued to project the idea of the typical welfare recipient being a poor African American woman who lives in a city, uses drugs, and is giving birth to a generation of criminals. The government then developed new criteria to determine who would receive welfare benefits. These new policies were created specifically to hurt the poor, blacks, and those living in inner cities.

It began in 1996 with the Contract with America. This contract proposed to cut spending on social services. The poor, racial minorities, and cities would fall victim to spending cuts in education, training, employment, housing, and antipoverty programs. They government claimed that there was a need for them to stop being so generous and place the responsibility on the people to pull themselves up. However this budget would allow a number of tax expenditures for businesses and disguised welfare for the affluent. The elderly would now be receiving better treatment and there was a reduction of the marriage penalty. These things were disguised as tax cuts which would provide more money for the economy.

This contract had racial undertones that weren’t very subtle. They seemingly targeted areas that were heavy with blacks; teenage mothers, long-term welfare recipients, and children whose paternity wasn’t established. The welfare queen stereotype was used as reasoning as to why there wasn’t a need to increase welfare spending. These racial messages were key to getting the Contract to America passed. Newt Gingrich, a speaker of the house, reported that no civilization can survive for long with 12 year olds having babies, 15 year olds killing one another, 17 year olds dying of AIDS, and 18 year olds getting a diploma they can’t read (Williams 250). These images were used to describe welfare recipients and their children.

Clinton had to convince the public that he could end the deficit and proposed to end welfare. An emphasis was placed on job training, job creation, supportive childcare, health care, and transport services. A 5-6 year time limit was placed on being a beneficiary of welfare. There were now work requirements for those on welfare. This would now be called workfare, which was set up to benefit bug businesses at the cost of the poor.

Question 6

Critically discuss the 1996 Welfare Reform showing among other things that it was not race neutral and the failure of the Congressional Black Caucus, Left Organizations, women and Latino Civil Rights Organizations to oppose it. Also discuss the effects of Welfare Reform on women and people of color, recommendations to improve the conditions for women and people of color, etc.


In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity and Reconciliation Act was passed. This brought a number of changes in family assistance for the poor. Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) replaced AFDC. The TANF block grant was set up to reduce the dependency on the government, encourage marriage and responsibility, develop work contracts, and assist families with children so they could be raised at home. However, if paternity was not established for a child then benefits could be cut off or reduced. Individuals were no longer guaranteed cash assistance and very strict quotas were established.

Work requirements were now established in order to receive benefits. Adults had to participate in training or an educational program or community service for up to a year. The federal government gives a 5-year limit for adults to receive cash assistance. If an individual went past 5 years, the state had to use their own money to fund the individuals. States were allowed to set lower limits if they wanted though.

Teen parents were now required to live with their parents or in a setting where there would be adult supervision. Also family caps were now being placed. Once a family reached a certain amount of children, they weren’t able to get more money, even though it used to be that for each extra child an individual would get more money. Childcare also wasn’t guaranteed. However, these changes did help illegal immigrants. Changes were also made in food stamps and stricter sanctions were now placed on individuals and if they weren’t fulfilled them benefits would be terminated, one being the Individual Responsibility Plan. Under this plan, each adult had to come up with a plan of how they would get themselves off of welfare and would be cut off if they didn’t complete the plan.

The act had a number of downfalls too. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act was made on the backs of women. Women would no longer have the same entitlement to welfare as they had in the past. Children were now being left home because their mothers were forced to work. Many women were put out into the workforce with no training and no childcare. This completely contrasted what conservatives were telling their women the exact opposite. MiIDle class women were told to stay home and take care of their children while poor women were told to go to work. Then once poor women did find a job, they were paid the minimum wage. Also, there was a suIDen socialization of America, where men were now being seen as the breadwinner.

Blacks and Latinos were the hardest hit by the policy. The lowest wages in the United States were found in the South, which was where a number of Blacks and Latinos were living. In aIDition to receiving low wages, states that had a large Black and Latino population had even stricter measures to their policies. This policy began to display the division between miIDle class and working class blacks. The miIDle class failed to fight for those in the working class; in fact they weren’t very fond of them. The public seemed to focus more on the downfalls of the working class instead of the structural roadblocks placed to keep them at bay.

The efforts to oppose this bill were few to none. The Congressional Black Caucus had a number of faults. They were never active about coming up with an alternative to this policy. There was little discipline on their members. Many members stopped attending weekly meetings or started to sporadically appear at them. Some of their members even voted for the bill. A walkout was never done in Congress and they didn’t hold a press conference speaking out in opposition of the bill. Also, there was fear of fighting Clinton because they may need his help later on. There was more concern placed on individuals’ instead of blacks as a race.

Women’s groups also failed to fight the reform. They didn’t fight for welfare because it didn’t concern their constituents. Women’s groups were made up of the miIDle class which just highlighting the fact that class has overcame gender. Also, class was also becoming more important to social organizations than race. However, race has always had a part in all welfare policies.

Question 7

What is new about today’s globalization €“ especially the technology of production, communication and distribution? How does this impact our lives €“ the political economy of the wages, market system; culture, ideology and the media: politics and structures of social control and domination?


Globalization has gone through a number of developments and stages. These stages can be broken up into 3 eras; the mercantile age, modern industry financial age, and the electronic age. The mercantile age showed an era of capitalism, which had agriculture and colonialism and had early traces of a mechanical class. The industrial/financial stage showed capitalism with the use of machines, national markets, global imperialism, and a division of labor. The electronic age depicts capitalism as an era, which uses computers and robotics in production.

The one thing that goes through all three eras is a market economy. In this type of economy labor is seen as a commodity. Businesses are also concerned about maximizing their profits from production. The production of products was always changing to find ways to cut costs yet still maximize profits. The modernization of factories came along with a number of socioeconomic problems. However it did allow companies to produce more efficiently. The advancement of technology has been monumental in modernization.

Technology doesn’t solely mean electronics; it means tools of all sorts. Technology is always advancing. Because of this, businesses were now able to reach global expansions. Economies form all over the world were now integrated because of these corporations. There was no an instantaneous flow of capital as well. Businesses are now able to get money across country lines in a matter of seconds. There was now unrestricted access to a number of goods, services and labor forces. These new labor forces attracted a number of businesses to move their production out of the United States and over seas to countries where they were able to exploit their labor force.

Businesses weren’t the only ones who benefited from the development of technology. The development of the Internet brought everyone in the world to one place together. However, it has caused a number of our teens to have no patience because technology is set up so that one doesn’t have to.

Through the advancement of technology and the mechanizing of production, a number of workers are being replaced. Machines are able to produce much more than a human can and is a lot less costly to the business owners. Also those who were still employed began to receive fewer wages and are not able to buy the things that they need.

Because a number of people were losing their jobs or receiving a low wage, the welfare state began to grow. The income gap became more unequal, rich and poor were becoming even more divided. National and local laws had little to no effect on anything that was happening. Global corporations had gained full control of all aspects of life and were able to override any law that would be put into place. Globalization had affect on all aspects of life.

These global corporations made extremely high profits. This causes the rich to get richer and the poor to become poorer. The poor are now suffering due to the greed of the capitalists. So many are homeless and lack healthcare and a good education.



Works Cited

Williams, Linda Faye. 2003. The Constraint of Race: Legacies of White Skin Privilege in America. The Pennsylvania State University Press: University Park, PA.



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