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Culture of Poverty

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Stephen Tendrich

on 14 April 2011

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Transcript of Culture of Poverty

Culture of Poverty Statistics in the 60's What is Culture of Poverty? Average annual family income exceeding $7000
$1600 million and more brought in by Office of Economic Opportunity to improve well being of the poor "It is a culture in the traditional
anthropological sense in that it provides
human beings with a design for living,
with a ready-made set of solutions for
human problems, and so serves a significant
adaptive function."-Lewis Lewis's Method of Assembling Data 100 representatives families in 4 slums of greater San Juan
Some 50 families of their relatives in NYC
Questionaires, open-end interviews, pyschological tests
Attending family parties, wakes, daily rountines The Problem of Problems The confusion results from the focus on society as a whole not individually
Larger society fails to provide social, political, and economic organization for low-income population
Lewis advocates that the culture of poverty:
"is both an adaptation and a reaction of the poor to their marginal position in a class-stratified, high indivduated capitalistic society.: Principal traits of Culture of Poverty
Poor claim to have some of the middle class values, but do not live by them
Lack of effective participation and integration
of the poor in the major institutions of the larger society
Absence of childhood and early initation into sex
Common law marriages are prevalent and economical
Low wages, high rate of unemployment
Feelings of marginality, helplessness Lewis the Marxist

"Marxism is an economic and socio-political worldview that centers around a political ideology which seeks to improve society by implementing socialism with the final goal of communism"-Wikipedia

"The most likely candidates for the culture
of poverty would be the people who come from
the lower strata of a rapidly changing society and
who are already partially alienated from it"-Lewis

Lewis is taking the idea that social change occurs because of the struggle between different classes within society who are under contradiction one against the other. Revisiting the Culture of Poverty John Sanchez, 55
Native New Yorker
Puerto Rican descent
Raised in Harlem
Retired NYPD Detective, Bachelors in Psychology,
Masters studies in Education

Tendrich: Did you experience any level of poverty while growing up in New York City?

Sanchez: Yes, because we weren't able to buy things that we wanted to such as luxury items. We could only afford to purchase the basics. Both parents worked; my siblings and I basically raised ourselves; no one checked our homework because our parents did not speak English. The cultural poverty was constantly downgraded and insulted in the sense that our main language was an inferior language. We learned of this from the nuns at our school at the time. It wasn't until I entered college that our hispanic culture began to expand and the FALN (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional-Armed Forces of National Liberation) started a movement advocating complete independence of Puerto Rico. If a hispanic committed a crime, the police automatically marked the perpetrator as a Puerto Rican. Honestly, we were poor enough, that we got a black tar roof tan, which is tanning on the roof of our building.

Tendrich: What is your interpretation of Lewis's Culture of Poverty?

Sanchez: He didn't say much. Lewis is bringing back poverty as vogue. Poverty is still here. It just has a different pair of underwear. He forgets to mention welfare mentality in the sense that the older geneation did not teach the younger generation the in and outs of collecting public assitance. For example, there's a group of Russian Jews in Brooklyn that receive a package as soon as they step of the plane. The package is a ready made package which covers completed applications to public assistance, emergency food stamps, and other necessities to get around the city. There's an old saying, "Walk a mile with my shoes"-I prefer to say "Walk a mile with my feet" because there were times when I needed new shoes. Discourse Questions:

Does poverty affect a person's education? How?

How many people here would like to be poor?
If no, why? If yes, why?

Full transcript