An Analysis Of Oscar Lewis' Culture Of Poverty Thesis By Sowah ...
Culture of poverty theory is a class-based theory. That is, the structure of the economy is posited as the initial condition that gives rise to a culture of poverty. It is most likely to emerge during transitional periods such as the shift from an agrarian to an industrial society or when rapid economic and technological shifts occur within a given society. Although racial discrimination can be a factor, it is not a necessary condition for a culture of poverty to emerge. (Lewis claimed that cultures of poverty formed among ethnically homogeneous populations in Latin America and among poor rural whites and poor African Americans in the United States.) Low-wage, unskilled workers who experience high rates of unemployment or underemployment in capitalist societies that stress social mobility are thought to be at greatest risk for developing a culture of poverty.
Culture Of Poverty Theory Essay | Professional Writing
In the 1940s, the concept was taken up by the expanding social work profession and became the 'problem family'. It lost much of its hereditarian associations and social work rather than sterilisation was seen as the solution. In the 1950s in the USA, cultural transmission became the central focus rather than genetic inheritance. The main source of this thesis was the anthropologist Oscar Lewis, The Culture of Poverty Thesis, 1965. This distinct culture of learned helplessness is transmitted from generation to generation by all the institutions of the culture, but especially by child rearing and socialisation patterns within the family.
The culture of poverty theory argues that “poor people share deviant cultural characteristics. The poor have lifestyles that differ from the rest of society and that these characteristics perpetuate their life of poverty. The poor are qualitatively different in values and these cultural differences explain continued poverty.”(Eitzen and Baca-Zinn, 1994) Therefore it can be said that poverty, according to this theory, is a trait which is perpetuated generation after generation. Moreover, the issue of the culture of poverty theory argues that there are certain characteristics related to the way in which people targeted by this theory tend to behave. Thus, “parents are more permissive in raising their children. (…) Children raised in poverty also have drastically different orientations in life when compared to middle-class children. There is an absence of childhood. (…) The poor are more fatalistic. One might expect that a poor person would believe the following idea: "What will be, will be and I can't change it. (…) The poor are less interested in formal education.” (Eitzen and Baca-Zinn, 1994) Although the theory in itself presents certain aspects of the lives of poor people, there are those who argue against the notions described by these ideas.
Variations on that basic narrative have, of course, become the norm in the language favored by the Right whenever it’s confronted with questions of racism. But the influence of the culture of poverty thesis extends far beyond the ranks of Republican officials, Tea Party activists, and Fox News talking heads — apparent, for instance, in the near-universal tendency to turn any discussion of the pervasive inequalities and discrimination suffered by African Americans into a moralizing sermon about the cultural pathologies of black people.Nowadays the phenomenon of the ‘culture of poverty’ is one of the most researched topics, especially taking into consideration the current crisis. So, writing a culture of poverty thesis, you have plenty of ways to start your discussion. Here are several tips you may want to use:Even in those venues where this kind of attack on the character of a murdered young black man is recognized for the victim blaming it is, there is a reticence to directly confront the larger claims the culture of poverty theory makes about African-American culture. One can find any number of articles responding to the latest coded racism from the loud Republican of the moment, which point out how conservatives ignore the history of racial oppression and blame the black poor for their own suffering. Far more rare, however, is a direct confrontation with the description of black culture entailed by the culture of poverty narrative.The culture of poverty, originally termed the subculture of poverty, is a theory that first appeared in 1959 in the work of North American anthropologist Oscar Lewis. As the name implies, this theory focuses attention on the cultural aspects of poverty. The theory holds that adaptation to the economic and structural conditions of poverty promotes the development of deviant social and psychological traits which, in turn, act as barriers to overcoming poverty. Once a culture of poverty emerges, it is reproduced through the transmission of traits to future generations. This perspective leads to the conclusion that economic solutions are limited in their ability to end poverty. Lewis suggested that social work and psychological interventions accompany economic responses to poverty. Culture of poverty theory has had a powerful influence on U.S. poverty policies and programs. A great deal of criticism surfaced as this theory gained prominence as an explanation for poverty in the United States.
Oscar Lewis introduced his idea of “a culture of poverty” in 1958. He developed the theory as a result of his work with the poor in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Culture of poverty is defined as a set of beliefs and values thought to exist among the poor which prevents them from escaping poverty (Browne 2010). For the purpose of this assignment the culture of poverty thesis will be discussed and the impact of poverty on the individuals mental health. The culture of poverty theory suggests that it is the traits of the poor themselves, which sustain poverty and social exclusion. Lewis argues that the culture of poverty is a “design for living” which is passed on from one generation to the next. The components of the design for living include, individuals feeling marginalised and inferior, there is a high rate of family The anthropologist Oscar Lewis defined the concept of the culture of poverty as the set of norms and attitudes that have the effect of enclosing individuals in what was originally formed as a reaction to unfavorable external circumstances, but which, when transmitted from generation to generation, perpetuates the state of poverty regardless of how those circumstances change. This anthropological thesis was soon appropriated by conservatives in the United States, who imputed poverty in the major cities to the disorganization of the black family, suspected of producing a veritable culture of dependence on welfare. This appropriation had the counter-effect of banishing for decades any reference to culture in research on poverty. In effect, anyone who attributed poverty to cultural causes was accused of blaming the victim and of automatically dismissing any social policy.