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Introduction to Sociology Final essay
Maria Mooney Gately Due: May 13, 2013

Growing up in Ireland during the aftermath of the great potato famine dictated my great -grandparents (1880-1950) decision to migrate to the United States. As Mintz and McNeil (2013) said “The Irish potato famine was not simply a natural disaster. It was also a product of social causes. Under British rule, Irish Catholics were prohibited from entering the professions or even purchasing land.” To the Irish seeking escape from disease, famine, oppression and land shortage, migration to America was viewed as the land of opportunity and hope of a better life. As America’s emerging industrial economy expanded to meet the new market demands, more immigrants arrived on our shores. According to U.S. Census Bureau in 1976 “from 1869 to 1879, the US economy grew at an unprecedented rate of 6.8% for GDP and 4.5% for NNP per capita. The economy repeated this period of growth in the 1880s, in which the wealth of the nation grew at an annual rate of 3.8%, while the GDP was also doubled”. This economic growth led society into what was known as the “Gilded Era 1865-1918” of which social Darwinism was the prevailing social concept of the time. Herbert Spencer coined the term “survival of the fittest” which attempted to justify the stratification of wealthy and poor. Spencer thought helping the poor was wrong and would interfere with the natural process. Let the inferior (poor) die off and the wealthy (fittest) survive.

My grandparents (1908-1973) were born in an urban area of the United States and grew up slightly after the “Gilded Era”. Throughout their lifetime they would live through the Wall Street crash, the great depression, World War II and both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the beginning of the civil rights movement. This generation would not suffer from the apathy of its...

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