More Than A Choice

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Bethany Herold

Professor Robin Schofield

ENG 122 1N5

21 June 2014

More Than A Choice

Americans today are inclined to think about weight as a personal choice. It is presumed that people make the decision to either eat healthy food or junk food, and then it is their responsibility to live with the consequences. However, a significant amount of our population is at a great disadvantaged, for they are classified as impoverished. Shockingly, the most affected group of all is that of young and impoverished children. In order to keep their families fed, low-income parents rely on bulk, processed food. Because in reality, it costs more to eat a nutritionally balanced meal than it does to grab a few items from the dollar menu. Although subject to the same modern influences as other American kids, such as lack of exercise and enlarged portions, the children offamilies in poverty face unique challenges in adopting healthful behaviors that would normally prevent obesity.

Printed by The Southern Medical Association in 2007, the article “Correlation between High Risk Obesity Groups and Low Socioeconomic Status in School Children” was written by Victor Vieweg, MD, and numerous other authors of his academic standing. This article reviewed socioeconomical status (SES) and its relation to obese and overweight children. Through specific studies monitoring impoverished school aged children, the team uncovered successful correlations showing that this speculated connection is in fact valid. This article concluded by offering reasoning behind the issue at hand, and wrapped up with suggestions to change this continually growing and detrimental pattern. Based on factors such as finances and emotional and physical barriers that lead to obesity and weight problems for children in poverty, it can be hypothesized that these children are not simply lacking self-control, but instead are victims of their environment.

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Studies are beginning to show frequent and growing connections between the weight and obesity epidemic of children in correlation with family income status. According to a research study performed by Vieweg et al., “youths in a low socioeconomic category were more likely to be obese and less likely to eat a proper diet” (11). Several factors of poverty influence a family’s grocery shopping choice, and money is the primary determiner. When journalist Carey Polis researched a recent study, he found “[Junk] food [on average] is about $1.50 cheaper per day [than nutritious food]” and saves roughly “$550 per year” which is a large sum of money for an impoverished family (pars. 2). These families are required to spend as little as possible, and therefore rely on cheap, calorie filled foods that have lower nutritional value to feed their young.Lack of money can also prevent children from getting appropriate exercise, as registration fees, checkups, and equipment make sports a hefty expenditure. Participation fees alone can go up to one thousand dollars, and adding in the equipment, apparel and travel expenses, parents are looking at dollar amounts in the thousands (Kids Play USA Foundation, 2012). Cost of quality food and exercise can be straining on families of the middle-class rank, and is virtually impossible for those in poverty.

Aside from finances, a community can prevent under-privileged children from maintaining a healthy weight as location is crucial to both variety of food and exercise. While suburbs and rural areas have manyfull-service grocery stores and farmers’ markets, low-income communities usually have fast-food chains and cheap convenience stores in abundance. Children living in these neighborhoods generally have lack of access to decent parks, while crime and traffic are also major deterrents to playing outside. The lack of resources stretches as far schools for low-income children, and according to the UCLA Center to Eliminate Health Disparities “Students in low-income schools spend less time being active during physical education classes and are less likely to have recess, both of which are of great concern given the already limited opportunities for physical activity in their communities” (Barros et al., 2009).

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A child has little say regarding the world they are born into, and they have equally less control when determining their diets and exercise levels. Although primarily the responsibility of the parents, there are many actions that cities and school districts can take to aid the epidemic. By simply enforcing more physical activity time at schools, making lunches more nutritional, and better furnishing low-income areas with decent grocery stores and parks, community involvement can make a difference. Action must be taken now, because “obesity most commonly starts before adulthood and obesity-related problems are now an epidemic, interventions [in the school years] must become a high national priority” (Vieweg et al., 13).

Works Cited

Barros, R. M., Silver, E. J., & Stein, R. E. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), 431-436.

Kids Play USA Foundation: Overview and Cost of Youth Sports. Kids Play USA Foundation. 2012. Web. 19 June 2014. < http://kidsplayusafoundation.org/overview-and-cost-of-youth-sports&gt;

Polis, Carey. “Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy Will Cost You $550 More Per Year, Study Reveals” The Huffington Post. HuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 2 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 June 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/05/eating-healthy-vs-unhealthy_n_4383633.html&gt;

Vieweg, Victor R., et al. “Correlation Between High Risk Obesity Groups And Low Socioeconomic Status In School Children.” Southern Medical Journal 100.1 (2007): 8-13. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://search.ebscohost.com.libdb.ppcc.edu/logi.aspx? direct=true&db=a9h&AN=23856882&site-ehost-live>

Why You Hate Work-A Sociological Approach

Why You Hate Work

SOC 101-1N1 Bethany Herold

Pikes Peak Community College

Introduction

The article “Why You Hate Work” was written by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath on May 30th, 2014, and was published in the New York Times on June 1st, 2014. The article discusses the increasingly high amount of white collar workers that are unhappy with their jobs. Ranging from average workers to executives at the top of the corporate ladder, the American workplace is steadily becoming less and less of a fulfilling environment (Schwartz and Porath, 2014). This article makes use of several sociological theories and concepts, including functional analysis, the looking-glass self and Verstehen.

Brief Summary of Article

Giving a brief illustration of the average white collar worker’s day ending in misery, Schwartz and Porath show the never ending strains of the modern work environment brought on by “technology, competitiveness and a post-recession work force” (2014). Throughout this article, they peer deep into the dark corners of the modern business world to uncover the source of work-related depression that did not seem to befall our more recent ancestors. A 2013 survey of twelve thousand, one hundred and fifteen workers worldwide found that “many lacked a fulfilling workplace, and that only thirty percent of Americans and thirteen percent of the entire world’s population truly feel engaged in their jobs” (Schwartz and Porath, 2014). Often carrying over into the home life after a day’s work, technology is the key culprit demanding time from workers that is excessively exceeding their capacity. By bringing about constant information day and night, employees feel compelled to address all issues, and ultimately feel as though they have no true breaks. (Schwartz and Porath, 2014). The authors concluded that organizations need to put people first, as well as acknowledge the demands that an excess of technology has put upon their workers. This can be achieved by caring for the employee’s needs and renewing value, focus, and purpose (2014).

Aspects of the Functional Analysis Theory Identified within Article

Throughout this article, the functional analysis theory is the most prevalent sociological theory presented. The functional analysis theory, also known as functionalism and structural functionalism, was originally suggested by Robert Merton, and it “is a theoretical framework in which society is viewed as composed of various parts, each with a function that, when fulfilled, contributes to society’s equilibrium” (Henslin, 2012, p. 26). Functionalists, in essence, view society as one giant working machine that is made up of parts that should work together to flow smoothly. If the specific units do not perform and fulfill their designated jobs, there is chaos. To analyze society, “functionalists say that we need to look at both structure (how the parts of a society fit together to make the whole) and function (what each part does, how it contributes to society)( Henslin, 2012, p. 26).” This article is an accurate example of functionalism, as it views a company as comprised of many parts. The issue raised is operations within a given business are not flowing smoothly, and this is effecting the company’s over-all production. Workers and supervisors alike are unengaged, which in turn makes the work day unproductive. Things had been flowing smoothly in the work world until recently with the rise of technology, which is why chaos has ensued.

“The most obvious answer is that systematically investing in employees, beyond paying them a salary, didn’t seem necessary until recently. So long as employees were able to meet work demands, employers were under no pressure to address their more complex needs. Increasingly, however, employers are recognizing that the relentless stress of increased demand — caused in large part by digital technology — simply must be addressed”

A new and uncharted problem, technology itself has caused a latent dysfunction in our modern society, which is “an unintended negative consequence” (Henslin, 2012, p. 26). Although technological advancements have had mostly positive influences, the excessive amount of resources and contacts made available to employees can leave little to no down-time in a work day. With unlimited access to this large amount of contacts and projects, and the previous option of multitasking becoming more of a requirement, employers can expect too much of their workers. In an experiment, Schwartz and Porath asked a firm to allow its worker to take small, multiple breaks throughout the day as opposed to a sole scheduled mid-day lunch break. Schwartz and Porath concluded “With higher focus, these employees ended up getting more work done in less time, left work earlier in the evenings than the rest of their colleagues, and reported a much less stressful overall experience during the busy season” (2014). This is an example of a step a company can take to reach a symbiotic state again where all its part are running smoothly, which is the core of functionalism. Both Schwartz and Porath show through studies and interviews that our work relationships and environments must be adjusted if order is to be restored.

Aspects the Looking-glass self and Verstehen within Article

To address the issues at hand, both Schwartz and Porath suggest employers to use Verstehen, “a German word meaning to understand” which was introduced by Max Weber (Henslin, 2012, p. 15). By understanding and connecting with their employees’ basic needs, great company success will be reached. Employers must provide opportunities for renewal by allowing multiple breaks throughout the day, which creates more effective work progress in a shorter amount of time (Schwartz and Porath, 2014). Employers must also understand that an employee’s view of himself can be largely based upon his given supervisor and work environment. The Looking-glass theory, first introduced by Charles Horton Cooley, is “a term to refer to the process by which our self develops through internalizing others’ reactions to us” (Henslin, 2012, p. 66). By utilizing this concept, Schwartz and Porath show that an employee’s sense of value and purpose at work often spawn from his reaction to how he feels his supervisors and company view him. According to a study researched for the article, “Employees who say they have more supportive supervisors are 1.3 times as likely to stay with the organization and are 67 percent more engaged” (Schwartz and Porath, 2014). By implicating small modifications to start, it is suggested within the article that it takes very little to use Verstehen and integrate these changes.

“The simplest way for companies to take on this challenge is to begin with a basic question:’What would make our employees feel more energized, better taken care of, more focused and more inspired?’ It costs nothing, for example, to mandate that meetings run no longer than 90 minutes, or to set boundaries around when people are expected to answer email and how quickly they’re expected to respond. Other basic steps we’ve seen client companies take is to create fitness facilities and nap rooms, and to provide healthy, high-quality free food, or at subsidized prices, as many Silicon Valley companies now do (Schwartz and Porath, 2014).”

For a company to succeed, the supervisors and company must provide an uplifting mirror through which the employees can find positive reinforcement.

Conclusion

Due to technological advances in the modern work force, it is becoming increasingly common to find miserable and unmotivated workers within any given industry. In order for everything to function properly, it is necessary to meet the basic needs of workers, as well as provide them with a sense of value, purpose, and focus. This can be addressed by employers trying to understand and care for their employees’ needs, and by striving to inspire and create in them a passion for their jobs. When comparing Costco and Walmart, Schwartz and Porath found the company that incorporated these ideas rose to greater success, “Between 2003 and 2013, Costco’s stock rose more than 200 percent, compared with about 50 percent for Walmart’s” (2014). In short, the key to a company’s prosperity is to have all its parts and members operating smoothly. By paying attention to the specific area of employees, and going above and beyond their needs and wants, a company can truly thrive and grow.

References

Henslin, J. The Sociological Perspective. Introduction to Sociology. Saddle River: Pearson Education, 2012. Print.

Schwartz, Tony and Christine Porath. “Why You Hate Work.” The New York Times. Sunday Review: Opinion, Pg SR1. Printed 1 June 2014. Retrieved from Web. 7 June 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/01/opinion/sunday/why-you-hate-work.html? module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Opinion&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&

pgtype=article&_r=0>

Social Class and Education

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Bethany Herold

Professor Robin Schofield

ENG 122 1N5

8 June 2014

Social Class and Education

According to a study completed in 2009 by the College Board for a correlation between SAT scores and family income, it was concluded that the lower a family’s income is, the lower their student’s test score will be (Wade 1). The findings blatantly show as financial resources in the home increase, so does the scoring of the student. A renowned academic with a PhD in Sociology, James W. Loewen strives to unveil the unjust standings of American social classes, arguing that although history books attempt to hide it, division of class status has been strongly instituted since the country’s origins. This makes it nearly impossible for an individual to break the cycle of their given class. Through his article “The Land of Opportunity”, Loewen challenges the assumption that class is a choice, and reasons that people need to be well-educated and aware of class segregation and limitations for this pattern to be broken.

Based on class system structure and preconceived notions about people born into certain privileges, he claims that the most defining factor for members of society is their bestowed social class (Loewen 203). It is stressed throughout Loewen’s writing that prejudices and chain of events cause a merry-go-round that people of lower classes cannot escape. Through teacher and job interview biases, history books excluding prevalent class information, and the population’s lack of education on the subject, Loewen illustrates that if people do not recognize and actively strive to shake the barrier of social class, their destined ruts will only continue to deepen.

Aside from providing reasoning as to why class segregation is still at large, Loewen takes a portion of his article to discuss how social class effects education and test scores, basically stating that

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the lower class is ultimately set up for failure in terms of academics. This point is not only accurate, but also very relevant to our modern education system. Americans view academic success as a choice, and typically consent to the idea that deficiency of success is caused by an individual’s own lack of effort. There are several correlations between lower class members and lack of academic prosperity, as well as connections for success and the middle and upper class counterparts.

A huge factor pertaining to post-secondary scholarly success, the home and education foundation poured for students from low-income families is insufficient in its resemblance to their upper class competitors. In his commentary presenting the opinion that poverty, not general education, is the true crisis, Dane Smith quotes authors Michael A. Rebell and Jessica R. Wolff on advice for an equal education future for all classes: “Students must be entitled to educationally relevant supports in the areas of early-childhood education, expanded learning in out-of-school time, health care, and family engagement and support — that is, those services which directly affect success in school” (Dane 1). These authors make a excellent point by showing that life outside of the classroom can greatly influence the school life of children.

Burdened with worries beyond their years and an intense home life, low class students can be greatly distracted in the classroom environment. As they are generally sectioned off to the lower income areas of communities, their schools are located in less that satisfactory neighborhoods. These schools will also receive less funding and therefor these students have less opportunity for adequate school curriculum and after school programs. Their upper class peers are not only free of these home based problems, they also have better access to private or high ranking schools and extracurricular activities.

Even prior to college, finances play a large part in educational success. Low income children are less likely to receive one-on-one assistance or tutoring, and children of stable or high income families have access to all this, occasionally having personalized test preparation courses as well.

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Because of their academic success early on, these stable students are more likely to receive

scholarships and qualify for prestigious universities, where the low class students are lacking financial support. Due to poor test scores, these underprivileged students generally cannot access such schools. Many enter the workforce right away instead and get caught in jobs that max out at a low income wage, thus restarting the cycle for their children.

Although a portion of academic success is the effort of the student, there are many other factors that contribute to the final outcome. Because of class cycles and segregation, excelling in school can be nearly impossible for a large majority of the low class population. In order to raise educational prosperity for all classes, steps must be taken to tackle American poverty in general, and at the very least incorporate more equality into the school systems to set children of all backgrounds up for success.

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Works Cited

Clayton, Mark. “In student test scores, a wider gap. (cover story).” Christian Science Monitor 29 Aug. 2001: 1. TOPICsearch. Web. 7 June 2014.<http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libdb.ppcc.edu/ehost/ detail?vid=10&sid=1f1d95f0-ae3e-45cb-b05c-d95b89775db1%40sessionmgr110&hid=11 4&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=tth&AN=5071378>

Greene, Stuart, and April Lidinsky. From Inquiry To Academic Writing: A Text And Reader For Pikes Peak Community College. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. Print.

Smith, Dane. “Commentary: A Poverty Crisis, Not A General Education Crisis.” St. Paul Legal Ledger (MN) (n.d.): Regional Business News. Web. 7 June 2014.<http://web.a.ebscohost.com.libdb. ppcc.edu/ehost/detail?vid=6&sid=9466c867-7a63-4c83-abff-bc008b3c37de%40sessionmgr 4001&hid=4214&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=bwh&AN=L548 46098SPLL>

Wade PhD, Lisa. “The Correlation Between Income And SAT Scores.” Sociological Images: Inspiring Sociological Imaginations Everywhere. 29 Aug. 2012. Pulled from Web. 7 June 2014. <http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/08/29/the-correlation-between-income-and-sat scores/>