Discuss poverty, racial disparity within larger theories, i. e. , social factors, social structure and delinquency, and social disorganization.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of different theories regarding poverty and racial disparity. 

In the United States, there are two primary suppositions about why a person is impoverished. The first theory is that an individual is personally responsible for his own lack of success. This "up by your bootstraps" mentality has long been ingrained in the American psyche. If you are poor, these adherents argue, the fault lies solely within yourself.  You have simply not worked hard enough; American society, they argue, is a "meritocracy." No matter what else has happened to a person, they alone are responsible for their own success or failure. 

The other major theory regarding poverty is that society, not the individual, has failed.  Factors  at fault  include  a  job  market  that  does  not  provide  enough  work at high enough wages to keep people from poverty. There are also inadequate "safety nets" for those who fall on hard times. This can mean not enough insurance or sick leave, education and job training, childcare, and elder care. The closer incomes are to the poverty line, the greater the need for safety nets; when both are lacking, poverty skyrockets. 

Racial disparity can, and has, resulted in delinquency and disorganization. Affirmative Action was program designed to combat some of the evils of racism that resulted in generations of people of color being denied the levels of education enjoyed by their white counterparts. The poverty gap, as discussed above, often strikes largely minority communities; inadequate job opportunities and subpar education contribute to rates of crime and imprisonment.