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Posted: July 26th, 2023

The Interconnections of Social Class, Poverty, and Discrimination

Watch this TED TalkLinks to an external site. from Gary Haugen, The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now.

Explain your interpretation of the complexity of social class, poverty, and discrimination in terms of the interconnections among race, ethnicity, age, gender, and schooling.
How are they related? How are they unrelated?

The Interconnections of Social Class, Poverty, and Discrimination: Unraveling the Nexus of Race, Ethnicity, Age, Gender, and Schooling

In this scholarly discourse, we delve into the intricate web of interconnections among social class, poverty, and discrimination, with a particular focus on their relationships to race, ethnicity, age, gender, and schooling. Drawing insights from the TED Talk by Gary Haugen on “The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now,” we will analyze and present a nuanced understanding of these complexities to underscore the critical need for comprehensive and multifaceted approaches to address these issues.

I. Understanding the Interrelatedness

Social Class and Poverty: A Vicious Cycle

Social class and poverty are inextricably linked, forming a cyclic relationship wherein one’s social class often dictates their economic well-being. This association is reflected through disparities in access to education, healthcare, and opportunities for economic advancement. In many societies, those born into impoverished families struggle to break free from the chains of poverty due to limited access to quality education and employment prospects, perpetuating the cycle across generations.

Discrimination as a Perpetuating Factor

Discrimination plays a significant role in reinforcing the connection between social class and poverty. Historically, marginalized groups, such as racial and ethnic minorities, have faced discrimination that further hinders their socioeconomic mobility. Discriminatory practices, whether overt or subtle, continue to influence hiring decisions, salary structures, and access to resources, thus deepening the impact of poverty on these vulnerable communities.

II. The Intersectionality of Race, Ethnicity, Age, Gender, and Schooling

Race and Ethnicity: Complex Intersection with Social Class

Race and ethnicity are intricately interwoven with social class, shaping individuals’ experiences and opportunities. Disparities in access to education, housing, and healthcare are often rooted in historical inequities and systemic racism. This intersectionality results in a disproportionate representation of minority communities among the impoverished, further compounding the challenges of escaping poverty.

Age and Gender: Vulnerability Amidst Discrimination

Age and gender add another layer of complexity to the interconnections among social class, poverty, and discrimination. In many societies, women and the elderly face unique obstacles in achieving economic independence and security. Gender pay gaps and limited access to resources contribute to poverty among women, while age discrimination can leave the elderly marginalized and struggling to meet their basic needs.

Schooling as the Gateway to Change

Schooling emerges as a potential gateway to disrupt the cycle of poverty and discrimination. Access to quality education has the power to empower individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, offering them the necessary skills to improve their socioeconomic prospects. Moreover, educational institutions can serve as catalysts for dismantling discriminatory norms and promoting inclusivity and social justice.

III. Unraveling the Unrelated Aspects

While interconnected in many ways, it is essential to recognize that social class, poverty, discrimination, race, ethnicity, age, gender, and schooling can also exist independently, albeit with limited influence on the overall dynamics.

For instance, an individual may belong to a higher social class but still face discrimination due to their race or gender. Similarly, poverty can afflict individuals regardless of their race, ethnicity, age, or gender if they lack access to education and opportunities. These cases exemplify how the factors in question can be disentangled in specific contexts, but in reality, such independence is rare, and more often than not, they intersect and amplify each other’s effects.


The complexity of the interconnections among social class, poverty, and discrimination becomes evident when considering the role of race, ethnicity, age, gender, and schooling. This intricacy demands comprehensive solutions that tackle these issues holistically. Addressing poverty and discrimination necessitates efforts that account for historical injustices, systemic biases, and cultural nuances. Emphasizing quality education and equal opportunities is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and creating a more equitable society.


Haugen, G. (Speaker). (Year, Month). The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now [TED Talk]. TED Conferences LLC. URL.

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