If you are searching for topics on the culture of poverty for a 5 paragraph essay, look over the 20 topics supplied in the list below. These topics cover a diversified selection of ideas. They all tackle multiple aspects of the theory of the culture of poverty including influences that pour into it, and theories which have since stemmed from it. This list of varied topics is meant to support your endeavor, offering some guidance on subject matter appropriate for your next assignment. It is incumbent upon you to review the assignment details given to you by your teacher and from there, review the list of potential ideas below to find something which best suits your task.
The theory of a culture of poverty is something which was created in 1959 when a book was published by an anthropologist named Oscar Lewis. This book was titled “Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty”. The culture of poverty theory is one which states that living in conditions where poverty high rates of poverty are observed in high amounts will lead to creation of a culture or even a subculture which has adapted to the conditions of poverty. This culture has been characterized by the ever present feelings of being marginalized, feeling dependent, being helpless, and feeling powerless. Individuals who live inside of a culture of poverty have no real sense of history and therefore they lack knowledge needed to alleviate the conditions in which they live through collective action. Instead they focus only on their individual problems. When poverty is imposed on a population that structure can actually lead to the development of a culture of poverty. This results in individuals becoming autonomous, and developing attitudes and behaviors which are passed down from one generation to the next through socialization.
The ethnography in which this theory made its first appearance renders poor people as a legitimate subject transformed by poverty. The original ethnography argued that the burdens of poverty are systematic and when the burdens are imposed upon members of society they form a subculture. This culture is formed by children who are socialized into attitudes and behaviors which perpetuate poverty and create their own inability to escape the impoverished environment in which they live. This theory further acknowledges that all past factors which have created this condition of society including substandard education and housing as well as a lack of job opportunities, sufficient social services with persistent discrimination and racial segregation together no longer matter. This theory perpetuates the notion that the cause of poverty and present behavior and the attitude of the poor people themselves.
This would imply that public assistance to those who are poor, in the form of direct assistance or welfare will not eliminate poverty because the poverty is inherent within the culture of the poor. By following the reasoning laid out by this anthropologist the blame for poverty is shifted from the economic and social conditions and placed upon the poor people themselves. A great deal of the evidence presented in the original publication in support of this theory suffers from fallacies in the methodology. Because of this, when publicly criticized during the 1970s the theory became less influential but did make a comeback in the early 2000. During this time it impacted welfare reform once again with particular influence on Assistance for Needy Families in 1997 and again in 2005.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan used this theory in 1965 to support a publication about poor African Americans. This report stated that poor black people in America we’re stuck in a tangle of pathology and it was this pathology which caused the breakdown of the modern black family. It was argued that the traditional family among the African Americans during times of slavery was broken by slavery itself. It further stated that black males felt a sense of powerlessness during slavery which since that time had created a culture of dependency. This culture of dependency was argued to be the reason that traditional male headed households were declining among black families and the reason that black males were not succeeding as well in the social ladder.
Overall the characteristics of the culture of poverty emphasize traits of maladaptive behaviors and attitudes from those who live in poverty. It is argued that people who live in poverty develop a subculture which adapts to the conditions, characterized by regular feelings of being marginalized, dependent, helpless and powerless. Furthermore those who live within a culture of poverty have no real sense of collective history and therefore cannot alleviate the condition based on collective action. Instead, these individuals focus on their own troubles and their own troubles alone.
Owens, Patricia. “The Family, the Culture of Poverty and Welfare Provision”. RAIN 63 (1984): 6. Web.
Ravenhill, Megan. The Culture of Homelessness. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008. Print.
Redeaux, Monique. “The Culture of Poverty Reloaded”. Monthly Review 63.3 (2011): 96. Web.
Rodman, Hyman. Lower-Class Families. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Print.
Tuason, Ma. Teresa. “Culture Of Poverty: Lessons From Two Case Studies of Poverty in the Philippines; One Became Rich, the Other One Stayed Poor”. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture 8.1 (2002): n. pag. Web.
Van Til, Sally Bould. Work and the Culture of Poverty. San Francisco: R and E Research Associates, 1976. Print.
Wasserman, Jason Adam, and Jeffrey M Clair. At Home on the Street. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2010. Print.