Sociology is a lens through which people interacting individually are weighed as a whole, viewed from various perspectives of viewpoint and understanding. It endeavors to study society scientifically, bringing in relevant information from a variety of disciplines. It is the scientific study of society using various methods to further develops knowledge of human society. The tool employed to study a society from other than one’s own point of view is “Sociological Imagination.” This is a method that sociologists use to put themselves in the shoes of another to create a link with the subject(s), allowing them to make decisionsthat will lead to a better life. This paper endeavors to explore from a sociological perspective, analyze the social issue of poverty as depicted in the American TV series “Shameless.
Social Issues are issues that relate to a society of people and which have an effect on people’s personal lives. If one were to tally them, thousands of social issues go unnoticed in everyday life. Things from a leash law for dogs, funding for education, politics, civil rights, water treatment plants, could all be considered social issues.
Social problems are issues that negatively impact the society. Things that, in most stable governments the government has taken steps to reduce minimize and eliminated. Poverty, disease and teen pregnancy are all examples of social problem. Only affect one person,and may come about as a result of personal choice.When an individual makesawrong choice, a problem could be created that may only affect them. Social problems lower certain individual’s within societies Personal Efficacy, which ranks an individual’s desire and determination to reach their goals. Personal Efficacy depends on Locus of Control, which ranks the ability individuals feel they have in controlling the events and situation around them.
In the social problems are social issues, but social issues are not necessarily social problems. The social issue that will be looked at in this essay, Poverty, is a social problem. It is one of the more important themes in The American TV series Shameless, directed by Mark Mylad. The show, which has aired on Showtime since 2011 and is a spin-off of a British TV series of the same name, has a cast starring William, H. Macy, Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Ethan Cutkosky, Shanola Hampton, Steve Howey, Emma Kenney, Cammeron Monaghan, Keremy Allen White, Noel Fisher, Emma Greenwell, Zach McGowan, and Laura Slade Wiggins. (Shameless Website, 2013).
Shameless is set in a Chicago south side neighborhood, and shows how people who reside in areas like this live. The show includes many problems that can be put into the Social Issues category.
Ruby K. Payne Ph.D. is a sociologist who has done extensive work on poverty studies. In her “A Framework for Understanding Poverty (2005), she noted that “Poverty is Relative [and] appears in all races.” (Payne, 2005). She noted that generational and situational poverty are different. In shameless, indicators point to a generational poverty.
Many other social issues are noted to be linked to poverty. Poverty is not a lack of material wealth; instead it is a lack of education and habits. The Gallagher’s are a poor family that struggle to put food on the table. This is considered to bea social problem because it has an effect on society in general. Being poor leads to a lot of social problems, like stealing. If peoplecannot afford to buy bread they will starve to death,so they resort tostealing it.
Poverty also causes crime and violence; because as Payne’s research points out, there is a correlation between poverty and crime.
The Gallaghers consist of eightmembers. The father, Frank, is selfish and never cares about his children. All he wants to do is collect his dead grandmothers’ disability checks (illegally) and get drunk. Fiona is the eldest sister, and due to her mother being absent, is the one that takes care of all the Gallagher children. She dropped outof high school to get to a minimum wage job just so she could put food on the table for her siblings. Phillip is a straight A student and the most intelligent. Still he alsodroppedof high school to searchfor a job to support Karen, whom he thought was pregnant with his child.
The root social issue is poverty, and this stems from other problems, which can be linked to social habits learned from parents, and also delinquency on the part of those who should be role models and rife substance abuse., Even if Frank had money, he would not have necessarily taken better care of his kids because he lacks education which leads him to have poor money management skills.
Fiona probably would have finished high school, and Phillip would have done something great in his future in the service of science, instead of dropping out to look for a job and steal atthe first opportunity hegot.
Functionalist is a theory that Shameless can support. The theory explains how each individual and institution in society can help to shape it and help it to remain stable.For example, building schools to educate children so they can become law-abiding citizens and contribute in the society.
The Gallagher’s did not get the best education since they were poor and dropped out of high school, which, going back to our theory, it is the reason they commitcrimes and steal.
Shameless opens a window to a micro view of an issue, which affects the world. WorldHunger.Org estimated that in 2012, one sixth of the world’s population was living in such dire conditions that they were unable to purchase as much food as they needed to not be hungry. Hunger could be seen as another issue, one that stems from poverty. (WorldHunger.org, 2013).
The lesson we can take from this is that the issue portrayed in Shameless, is a serious social problem that affects the entire world. Poverty does not come from a root cause, and so the solution to it is a complicated one that involves different levels of society’s participation.
Doing this project helped me to getout of my bubble and use my sociological imagination by putting myself in other people’s shoes. Seeing how people would react and why will help me to see and respect other people perspectives, and will help me work to find better solutions for social problems, thus allowing me to contribute to my society.
2012 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by World Hunger Education Service. (n.d.). World Hunger Notes Homepage. Retrieved March 31, 2013, from http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm
Official website of Shameless - Showtime. (n.d.). Showtime : Home. Retrieved March 31, 2013, from http://www.sho.com/sho/shameless/home
Payne, R. K. (2005). A framework for understanding poverty (4th rev. ed.). Highlands, Tex.: aha! Process.