Stigma of Urban Poverty History Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The public face of stigma involves the general public's negative beliefs, feelings and behaviours directed toward those with a stigma" (¶ 4). Public stigma may contribute to a cycle of poverty by: a) Employers discriminating against obese individuals or those who may be HIV-infected or mentally ill. b) Being poor, per se, may contribute to even more public stigmatization.

Self-stigma and public stigma closely connect, Reeder and Pryor (2008) stress . The degree an individual perceives that his/her employers, family, family, and landlords possess stigmatizing attitudes; he/she will likely experience the pain of self-stigma. One's awareness of public stigma frequently promotes self-stigma.

A stigma, similar to a disease may spread from one individual to another. The individual who decides to affiliate with a member of a stigmatized group may acquire a courtesy stigma. In a sense, as the individual gains admission into the stigmatized category, both the stigmatized group's members as well as those outside the group treat the individual as if the stigma taints him/her. Josh Otlin (2008), ethics, history, and economics educator in Hudson, Massachusetts, asserts that the majority of individuals stigmatized as the urban poor do not deliberately desire nor plan to be poor; that they would prefer not to be the object of charity.

In the journal article, "Left out: Perspectives on social exclusion and inclusion across income groups," Miriam Stewart, et al. (2008), Faculty of Nursing and School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Canada, explains that social exclusion may stimulate a person to experience low self-esteem, internalize blame, and feel powerlessness. Social exclusion "refers to deeply embedded societal processes whereby certain groups are unable to fully participate in and benefit from major societal institutions, and experience economic, political and social deprivations and inequalities" (Stewart, et al. ¶ 2). Because of being socially excluded, a person may deliberately avoid participating in community life. Processes of social exclusion may also produce corresponding adverse affects on the socially stigmatized, excluded individual's health and well-being.

In the journal article, "The causes of poverty: thinking critically about a key economic issue," Otlin (2008) stresses that poor individuals in the U.S. not only experience indignity because of stigmatization, they also suffer. They also live one illness or accident away from becoming completely desperate. Many live to survive day-to-day, meal-to-meal, at times, unsure whether they will have a place to live and/or food to eat. "This vulnerability," some individuals assert, "causes intense stress, ultimately leading to hopelessness. As a result, social problems, including domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and crime, are widespread among the poor" (Otlin, Evan Section, ¶ 3). Other individuals oppose the contention that the external components contribute to stigmatization of urban poverty or poverty per se. Some argue that to overcome poverty one simply needs a "willingness to work hard, exercise self-discipline, and improve themselves… [that] & #8230;a failure of individual responsibility is the cause of poverty in the U.S." (Otlin, Barbara Section, ¶ 1). Some argue that taking money from people who work regularly to earn money and giving it to the individuals who for whatever reason, including drugs; alcohol; etc. To work hard enough to support themselves clearly constitutes a wrong practice.


Seeking to understand and explain urban poverty and its stigmatization, the literature reveals, serves as a significant first step to begin to assert ideas to develop social policies and practices to deter the growing contemporary problem. Understanding may lead to ideas to better counter the problem as well as hopeless attitudes and/or standards the urban poor may experience. Accurately identifying and measuring poverty, the writer asserts, may also constitute a critical first step challenge cycle of urban poverty as well as its stigma.

Whatever the reason for the stigmatization of urban poverty, as well as whether poverty per se evolves from businesses' greed, exploitation, and discrimination or from the individual's failures of individual responsibility will likely provide material for ongoing debates as long as a society characterizes a part of its community as poor. The negative consequences that frequently evolve from and/or accompany urban poverty as well as its stigmatization, however, do not only adversely affect the poor. As the stigma, no matter the object of the stigmatization, belittles the person, an inherent part of society, the writer asserts - each person in society, in a sense, also becomes poorer.


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