The Problem of Hunger in the USA

The problem of hunger has gained an international resonance over the last decades due to the rapid development of the informational society. Paradoxically, the 21st century is the age when the world community has launched a new scientific and technical milestone with historical discoveries and inventions requiring billions of dollars of financial support but failed to overcome the problem of malnutrition. Moreover, the existing hunger in Africa or Asia is not surprising because the vast majority of countries representing these continents do not have the required number of resources and qualified specialists to tackle starvation without outside assistance. On the contrary, hunger in the USA is quite shocking because our country is considered to be one of the most powerful ones in the world having the solid material and intellectual foundations to solve any problem. The contrast between malnourished people in suburbs and a having-it-all population in large cities makes the concept of equality for all being very contradictive.

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Naturally, such global issues as hunger cannot be the prerogative of a single institutional branch, thus, the problem of the given research has to be put in the interdisciplinary paradigm because different disciplines offer different solutions. Political science helps with designing and evaluating governmental programs for overcoming malnutrition, sociology estimates its spreads among the different groups of society, whereas psychology helps in overcoming financial and psychological issues that lead to malnutrition.

The issue of hunger requires a complicated investigation since the long-range consequences of malnutrition are more serious comparing to the earlier scientific studies (Leckie & Gallagher, 2006). It means that a fact of defeating malnutrition is rather a victorious battle than the whole war because vulnerable populations may feel negative effects even after some time spent on normalizing their nutrition. It is the reason for the whole conscious population needs to be involved in the fight against hunger to eliminate or, at least, reduce the perceptible influence of malnutrition on the forthcoming generations of Americans. It might be a complicated task since a bigger part of the American population considers hunger to be a problem that occurs somewhere else (Elliot & Inglis, 2014). This fact shows an obvious gap in the practical side of solving the problem of hunger because even the most reasonable theories and fully collected statistics are useless when not underpinned with a proper measure of various efficient actions. Thus, the method of meta-analysis seems to be the best to address the issue since its main advantage lies in defining the unique key ideas of each of the chosen sources that would provide a boost for finding a required complex solution to the problem of hunger.

The interdisciplinary approach to malnutrition cannot include a random selection of the disciplines that would provide specific perspectives to the problem. This list should consist of at least three disciplines that are in the closest relation to the evident consequences of hunger observed in modern American society.

Thus, the fact that issues of hunger exist in the developed counties and, particularly, in America, predetermines the search for not only the reasons but also the solutions to the problem, including introducing changes to the governmental policies, informing the different audience about the healthy nutrition, nutrition education in schools, overcoming financial and psychological issues that lead to malnutrition.

Choosing the relevant disciplines for the research

It is quite evident that the choice of the disciplinary perspectives should be based on their potential interactions. Although the problem of interdisciplinary research requires a versatile approach, it does not mean that there would be no perceptive connection between the questions addressed from the point of view of every single chosen discipline. The proper differentiation of the phenomena of integration and interdisciplinarity is the first step to defining the correlations between them that are the foundation of choosing the disciplines for the research. First of all, there are numerous discussions concerning whether integration and interdisciplinarity should be distinguished or combined. There are two categories of interdisciplinarity that are called “generalists” and “integrationists” (Repko, 2007).

Generalists interpret interdisciplinarity as a detached concept that is used to investigate the problem which could not be put into the frames of a single discipline. The researching process will then include only a slight connection between various perspectives since generalists underestimate the role of integration in interdisciplinary research. It means that the issue would be studied from two or more almost loose points of view instead of finding some common basis for research. On the contrary, integrationists theory is characterized by the grown role of integration which is considered to be the desired result of the research preparation. Integrationists Klein and Newel (Repko, 2007) describe interdisciplinarity as “a process of drawing on disciplinary perspectives and integrating their insights by producing a more comprehensive understanding” (p. 3). In my opinion, this approach has a significantly greater potential for reaching the required interdisciplinary interaction.

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For the investigation of the problem of hunger in the USA, the variety of the disciplinary perspectives is be determined not by the gist of questions asked but by the methods of research typical for each chosen discipline. The ideal product of a researching process should be a result of a well-balanced combination of the disciplinary lenses to let the intended audience understand the reason for a researcher to choose these particular disciplines. The abstract comparison of research containing three disciplinary parts that share one title with research made from three perspectives, united into a versatile but simultaneously monolithic one, would be quite enough to differentiate interdisciplinarity and integration in terms of the results they might bring.

Therefore, in the case of researching the hunger in the USA, integration of the perspectives from different social sciences, including sociology, psychology, and political science allows a researcher to reach the consistency between interdisciplinary perspectives. Psychology will be used for investigating the consequences and experience of hunger in the sphere of not only physical but also mental health. Sociology will ensure that the phenomenon of malnutrition is accessed from a broader perspective, and all the factors leading to it are analyzed, whereas political science will investigate the correlation of the issue with the governmental policies.

The State of Research

Hunger is a worldwide epidemic eradicating people and even the whole settlements around the world. Society is accustomed to malnourished humans in poor and rural regions of Africa and Asia, but the existence of hunger in the USA, which is the most developed country in the world, causes global astonishment. Moreover, the given issue has rarely been discussed in the USA until the dawning of the Internet age, but the current situation is different since various institutions united to tackle hunger. Nowadays, malnutrition has a notable impact on the psychological state and social determination of the covered American population as well as on the work of the incumbent government. This research presents an interdisciplinary approach to hunger from the perspectives of psychology, sociology, and political science.

The mentioned three versatile views on the problem of malnutrition are closely correlated. First of all, hunger in America is a strong psychological pressure testing people that are suffering from undernutrition. The most efficient way of investigating the given aspect lies in analyzing the state of mind of the malnourished audience by applying the psychological methods of research such as interviews or tests. Naturally, a person who lives beyond the line of poverty feels abandoned and pressed in the conditions of the American developing society. One may accept his being left out of the loop or, in the worst case, choose a criminal path to equalize his position. Consequently, this leads to the sociological side of the issue since the growing number of murderers and robbers does harm to every single member of our community.

From the perspective of sociology, the character of the researched problem in the USA is considered by analyzing the data, which will help to figure out the nature and the measure of the social tension created by malnutrition. Moreover, much attention is dedicated to defining the role of society in assisting people suffering from hunger. Undoubtedly, the accommodated part of the population must be an active participant in tackling starvation by donating even insignificant costs for poorer people. For instance, some part of donations could be collected by influential enterprises having huge profits within both American and world markets. However, such movement should be officially underpinned by the governments legislative and financial initiative which is the political aspect of the researched issue. Furthermore, American society has a great possibility of creating and voting for the necessary petitions to help the government in improving the future draft laws. It is quite obvious that the political analysis requires researching the existing and possible laws and normative documents related to the problem of hunger.

Overall, the complex research of starvation in the USA has revealed steady correlations between various aspects of the issue.

References

Ballantyne, D. (2015). Ernest F. Hollings and the Politics of Hunger. The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics, and Culture, 8(1), 75-98.

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Bush, B., & Welsh, H. (2015). Hidden Hunger: America’s Growing Malnutrition epidemic. Web.

Dhurandhar, E. J., Allison, D. B., Groen, T., Van, & Kadish, I. (2013). Hunger in the Absence of Caloric Restriction Improves Cognition and Attenuates Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology in a Mouse Model. Web.

Elliot, D., & Inglis, J. (2014). Childhood Hunger in America’s Suburbs. Washington, DC: Fair Share Education Fund.

Elmes, M. B., & Derry, R. (2013). Hunger, Hegemony, and Social Inequality: Organizations and the Discourse of Food in the US. Academy of Management Proceedings.

Gundersen, C., & Ziliak, J. P. (2014). Childhood Food Insecurity in the U.S.: Trends, Causes, and Policy Options. The Future of Children, 24(2), 1-19.

Leckie, S., & Gallagher, A. (2006). Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: A Legal Resource Guide. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Logue, A. W. (2004). The Psychology of Eating and Drinking. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Routledge.

Muthayya, S., Rah, J. H., Sugimoto, J. D., Roos, F. F., Kraemer, K., & Black, R. E. (2013). The Global Hidden Hunger Indices and Maps: An Advocacy Tool for Action. Web.

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Petersen, M. B., Aarøe, L., Jensen, N. H., & Curry, O. (2013). Social Welfare and the Psychology of Food Sharing: Short-Term Hunger Increases Support for Social Welfare. Political Psychology, 35(6), 757-773.

Poppendieck, J. (2014). Food Assistance, Hunger and the End of Welfare in the USA. In G. Riches & T. Silvasti (Eds.), First World Hunger Revisited (pp. 176-190). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Repko, A. F. (2007). Integrating Interdisciplinarity: How the Theories of Common Ground and Cognitive Interdisciplinarity Are Informing the Debate on Interdisciplinary Integration. Issues on Integrative Studies, 1(25), 1-31.

Richards, K., & Hypher, N. (2015). Harnessing Social Protection to Address Malnutrition. Standing Committee on Nutrition News, 1(41), 26-36.

Sahn, D. E. (2015). The Fight Against Hunger and Malnutrition: The Role of Food, Agriculture, and Targeted Policies. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Spies, T. G., Morgan, J. J., & Matsuura, M. (2014). The Faces of Hunger: The Educational Impact of Hunger on Students With Disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 50(1), 5-14.

Weinfield, N., Mills, G., Borger, C., Gearing, M., Macaluso, T., Montaquila, J., & Zedlevski, S. (2014, August). Hunger in America 2014 National Report Prepared for Feeding America. Washington, DC: Westat and the Urban Institute.

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