Sociology Index

CULTURE OF POVERTY THESIS

The theory that certain groups and individuals tend to persist in a state of poverty because they have distinct beliefs, values and behavior that are incompatible with economic success. The culture of poverty theory is a social theory that tries to explain the cycle of poverty. culture of poverty theory was discussed academic circles in the 1960s. Culture of poverty theory tries to explain why poverty exists despite anti-poverty programs. Oscar Lewis was an American anthropologist contended that the culture of poverty is both an adaptation and a reaction of the poor to their marginal position due to stratification in a capitalistic society. The culture of poverty thesis is one of the most recurrent themes in American politics.

The culture of poverty thesis is controversial and is opposed by situational theory, which locates the genesis of poverty in economic and social structures of society rather than in the value orientations of individuals or groups. The culture of poverty thesis is similar to 'low class culture' theory where it has been argued by some that the lower class have developed and transmit to their children, a different set of cultural values and expectations. They also argue that culture of poverty is a barrier to the success of lower class in society.

The people, in the culture of poverty thesis have a strong feeling of marginality, of helplessness, of dependency, of not belonging. They are like aliens in their own country, convinced that the existing institutions do not serve their interests and needs. Along with this feeling of powerlessness is a widespread feeling of inferiority, of personal unworthiness. This is true of the slum dwellers of Mexico City, who do not constitute a distinct ethnic or racial group and do not suffer from racial discrimination. In the United States the culture of poverty that exists in the Negroes has the additional disadvantage of racial discrimination. - Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (1959).

Books Culture of Poverty Thesis

Soulside : Inquiries into Ghetto Culture and Community - Ulf Hannerz. The book helped to dispel many false impressions about ghetto life and questioned the idea, precipitated in the influential Moynihan Report and in notions of a "culture of poverty," that the poor had chosen to lead the lives they do.

The War Against the Poor: The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy - Herbert J. Gans. America has been waging war against many of its poor people. This book discuss the labeling theory of the poor as morally inferior, blames them falsely for the ills of the American society and economy, reinforces their mistreatment, increases their misery, and further discourages their moving out of culture of poverty.

Through My Own Eyes: Single Mothers and the Cultures of Poverty - Susan Holloway, Bruce Fuller, Marylee F. Rambaud, Costanza Eggers-Pierola. Through My Own Eyes is a thoughtful book that adds to our knowledge about poverty in America. By utilizing women's voices throughout, the volume offers a rich texture of ideas that is both compelling and creative. The book is a useful addition to the field of education, social welfare, and social policy and adds special meaning to one of the most challenging issues of our time. (Jill Duerr Berrik Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare).

Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Class : The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change (Sage Masters in Modern Social Thought) - Joseph F. Healey. Joseph F. Healey is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. He received his PhD in sociology and anthropology from the University of Virginia. An innovative and experienced teacher of numerous race and ethnicity courses, he has written articles on minority group, the sociology of leisure and sport, social movements, and violence, and he is also the author of Statistics: A Tool for Social Research (10th ed., 2014).

The culture-of-poverty thesis and African Americans: the work of Gunnar Myrdal and other institutionalists: An article from: Journal of Economic Issues. This paper describes the evolution and the influence of this culture-of-poverty thesis on the work of institutional economists who have tried to explain the low economic status of African Americans. Prominent among these institutionalism is Gunnar Myrdal.

The value orientation test: An exploration of the culture of poverty thesis using a new projective instrument (Center research and development report). Kelley, Marjorie G. The need for a new projective instrument for use with low-income, disadvantaged populations is postulated in this study, and the development of such an instrument, the Value Orientation Test (VOT), is undertaken. With a theoretical foundation drawn from the "culture of poverty" school of thought, the test is related to the implicit hypotheses of this concept. Exploration is made theoretically of the culture of poverty thesis, and findings from administration of the VOT are compared with it. Examination is also made of the study of values and the use of projective tests in the social sciences. The culture of poverty thesis is found lacking in empirical evidence support, and the data here gathered lend added weight to doubts of its validity.

A test of the homogeneity thesis of the culture of poverty theory: Characteristics of disadvantaged farm families (Tech. bul. / North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station). White, Estelle E.; Clay, Rex J. Utilizing data derived from a stratified random sample of disadvantaged farm families (DFF) living in 3 northeastern North Carolina counties (N=42, 56, and 32 families from Bertie, Halifax, and Northampton respectively), study objectives were to test the homogeneity thesis of the culture of poverty theory via a comparison of a selected set of characteristics.