Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tammy, Appalachia and poverty

In the movie People Like Us we met Tammy and her sons from Pike County, Ohio. (Watch the videoon youtube here or watch it on mediacast here.) They live in poverty. Tammy was from a family of 22 kids and she grew up in poverty. She wants to be a teacher. Her son wants to be an architect or a lawyer. Will they be able to achieve these goals? What are the factors that will hold them back? What will their life chances be? One of the ways that Tammy’s son copes with his situation is by trying to dress preppy and act preppy. He cleans the house so it looks better and he tries in school, winning awards and succeeding in sports. Can these actions move him up to a higher class or is he kidding himself? What are the chances he succeeds in the "American Dream"?
If you want to help Tammy and her family, here is a link to how you can help.

Here is an update on Tammy from the last 14 years:

Tammy is just one of thousands of Americans living in poverty. Her story highlights many of the difficulties of life in poverty: poor health, few jobs, inadequate education, stressful family dynamics, all limit the chances of those living in poverty ever getting out of it. Diane Sawyer did a special report on Appalachia that highlighted the children affected by poverty. I think there is a tendency for us to blame the adults for their impoverished situation, but we forget that these adults were once children born into a world of difficulties and obstacles that led to an adulthood of poverty. You can hear Diane Sawyer talk about it here. Can you use your sociological imagination to see all of the social forces that limit those who are in poverty in America? Watch the excerpt below from 20/20 to see the complicated life of the rural impoverished American or watch the whole video on mediacast here. video


  1. Hi Sal! I think Tammy's son can move up in society if he continues on the right path. There are alot of financial aid oppertunities he could recieve to pay his way in college. Even though alot of people who are born in poverty stay in poverty, there are people who work hard enough to get out. He just has to really work at it.

  2. after watching her in class it made me sad because i wanted to help her out in some way. it just sucks she cant really go to college ore anything