Within the limits of conflict theory, homelessness is interpreted as one of the main drawbacks of capitalism in the USA. The aim of the paper is to analyze the application of the conflict theory to enhance an understanding of the problem of homelessness in the country.
Understanding of Homelessness through the Conflict Theory
During many decades, homelessness in the USA has remained a topical problem. Scholars highlight psychological and financial causes to be the most acute. Although the government and the Senate provide their own definite reasons for the rise of homelessness in the USA, there is still no effective solution to the problem. In addition, there is a heated debate surrounding the causes of homelessness, such as lack of motivation and laziness. On the other hand, it is apparent that capitalism is one of the main causes of homelessness, and the ground for capitalism can be related to the conflict theory.
Over the past few decades, homelessness has become an acute problem in the country that continues to get worse. For instance, “the number of homeless families rose by 30% between 2007-2009” (Champion, 2010). In addition, sociologists continue to gather information about the rise of homelessness in the recent years using electronic data provided by the emergency housing shelters and surveys made on the number of abandoned properties, cars, etc.
In 2013, The State of Homelessness in America identified “633,782 people who experienced homelessness on one night in January 2012. The statistics show the rate of the homeless within the country to be of about 20 per 10,000 US citizens” (2013). According to the research, the veterans comprise up to 10% of the homeless population in our country.
Analysis of the Issue
Capitalism is often used to explain the reason of homelessness. For example, it is said that the homeless population lacks social, economic and human capital. In addition, homeless people are believed to have a low level of resources. For instance, McNaughton notes that people become homeless because they own low levels of resources that are constantly reduced, and “anyone may become homeless, but they are more likely to when they have a low level of resources” (2008, p.108). Furthermore, this statement explains the reason why people remain homeless for a long period.
According to the capitalist structure, people are divided into those who own capital and those who do not. Thus, a capitalist outlook identifies homeless people as losers in society because they lack property, food and other goods that are attributed to the winners in society. As a result, being homeless means experiencing some kind of loss.
The sociological theory identifies capitalism as the reason for homelessness in the conflict theory. According to Karl Marx’s conflict theory, there are two classes of people in society: the owners and the workers. Marx explains that the former usually take advantage of the latter, depriving them of the basics needed for a quality life, such as shelter and food. Although the workers think that they are treated adequately, the owners take care of their profit only.
The conflict theory explains capitalism and homelessness due to continuous indignation among social classes about the quality of life in the country. The capitalistic structure creates a huge gap in society that is dominated by the wealthy groups that control the distribution of power and goods in the country.
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