The Missing Class: an Analysis of the Themes and Applicable Theories Essay

Words: 2564
Pages: 11

In The Missing Class: Portraits of the Near Poor in America (2007), Katherine Newman and Victor Tan Chen explore the lives of several urban, working families who live above the official poverty line, but who are one catastrophe away from it. Entrenched within the stories of these families’ lives, the authors explore themes and key issues which permeate many discussions of poverty, including gentrification of neighborhoods, credit card debt, lack of health care, childcare and education challenges, and the complex web of family relationships which serve as a support system for those who need it most. Yet, this book also tells the story of how we, as a society, ignore the near poor, preferring to focus on those living below the poverty line …show more content…
According to Kemp (2001), “the uncritical use of generic understandings of person-environment relationships in social work practice with women may perpetuate exclusionary, oppressive, and erroneous understandings of women’s lives” (pg. 11). In other words, making judgments about women’s lives, without understanding the environment from which women may come, is detrimental to truly understanding the issues that these women face. This is evidenced numerous times in The Missing Class. For example, the environment in which Danielle Wayne is forced to place her child can be easily judged with a harsh eye. Although she leaves her two year old daughter with family during the day, outsiders could be quick to comment on this arrangement. The children in this ‘daycare’ are “too young to register the fact that there are drug users in the house” (pg. 91). Nor are the children “learning his or her ABCs from Sesame Street” (pg. 91) but there are limited arrangements that can be made for child care when one has minimal money to devote to this luxury. Kemp points out the importance of focusing on the details of women’s experiences and history within a certain environment, “strategies for surviving in this environment” (pg. 12), and the relationship between the woman and her larger community. Although one might have the tendency to focus on what is visibly wrong with Danielle’s