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Is there a culture of poverty in the U.S.?

For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord Voldemort: That Which Must Not Be Named.

Excerpt from article by Patrick Cohen, WSJ online.
The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report. Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune.

Link to full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/18/us/18poverty.html?_r=1&ref=us

 
tasches

Asked by tasches at 3:20 PM on Oct. 18, 2010 in Politics & Current Events

Level 48 (298,202 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (13)
  • No.

    Um, and yes.
    Our poor, are not poor.

    Recent conversation I had with my daughter. "mom, can I have an Iphone." Me, not on your life. Her, "WHY, X has one." me, It's too expensive. Her, "my blackberry is pretty expensive." Me, "your blackberry was free." (dh contest at work) "X's mom let's her have one, and they are poorer then we are." Me, "is this the same X we just gave a bunch of clothes because their parents are having money problems?" her, "yup, so if they can afford it, so can we."

    Also, she came home and told me that we should get free lunch for school, and I said no, that's for people that are needy. Then found out my neighbors with two nice cars and a newly paved driveway have been taking advantage of free lunch for years.

    I think if people were willing to live without a little more, they wouldn't be poor for so long.
    lovinangels

    Answer by lovinangels at 5:45 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • Cycles of poverty are present worldwide.
    UpSheRises

    Answer by UpSheRises at 3:55 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • I think its true, just not only black people, but people brought up in poverty. Its cyclical, just like abuse...

    sweet-a-kins

    Answer by sweet-a-kins at 3:50 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • Cycles of poverty are worldwide. IF that is all you have ever known...of course you will continue down that path. There are exceptions to everything though. The "whole american dream" is just not attainable for everyone no matter how hard you work.

    ***
    Why not?! There are SO MANY programs and scholarships available in this country for poor/low income, and specific ethnic groups/races, designed for the sole purpose of giving the disadvantaged the best possible chance at being successful and living the dream!!

    I grew up in poverty, but CHOSE to make a better life for myself!! You CAN break the cycle, but you have to REALLY want it and work hard to do so! If that means going off on your own and leaving your present situation behind, so be it! It's what I did, and my husband and I are now living the "American Dream!"
    LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 6:54 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • A long as there are impoverished single mothers raising too many children with no husband/father and no education, the cycle of poverty will continue...and that goes for any single mother whether she be white,black,yellow,red or plaid.
    Its the family unit with mother,father/partner ,children united, with a modest income and aspirations and goals for the future that will survive and escape poverty.
    kerp1960

    Answer by kerp1960 at 9:14 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • I think if people were willing to live without a little more, they wouldn't be poor for so long.


    I agree with your sentiment,


    but living in poverty isn't the same as the working poor...well most.

    sweet-a-kins

    Answer by sweet-a-kins at 6:43 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • He's right
    itsmesteph11

    Answer by itsmesteph11 at 9:23 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • I don't buy the "no choice in the matter" theory. I grew up poor, my Mom was lucky to put food on the table sometimes. Not 1 of her 3 children got caught up in the "cycle." We all worked our way through college and are successful adults. IMO, I am the epitomy of the American Dream. Anybody can do what I did, all it takes is a committment to hard work and gumption.

    I think a big part of the problem is the loss of the traditional American family and people having kids irresponsibly. Keep your pants on and your legs closed until you are in a long term stable relationship and you are financially able to support a child...............supporting a child doesn't mean scraping by either.
    yourspecialkid

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 9:33 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • Why not?! There are SO MANY programs and scholarships available in this country for poor/low income, and specific ethnic groups/races, designed for the sole purpose of giving the disadvantaged the best possible chance at being successful and living the dream!!

    That's what the culture of poverty comes in...Its great that you pulled yourself out, but for everyone of you there are 5 or 6 or more that didn't... Its not just a lack of resources, its a lifestyle, comfort zone, its living around and with drug abuse, physical / emotional abuse...lack of motivation, being around people who have just given up...

    sweet-a-kins

    Answer by sweet-a-kins at 10:39 PM on Oct. 18, 2010

  • Reminds me of another article I read.It seems like ao of liberals ten to think of bad choices/bad behaivors as 'culture.' As in the other article I read (and I agree) some escape that 'culture' ..not a culture at all..to live in suburbia (middle class) only to have the mess follow..section 8 housing etc.
    tnmomofive

    Answer by tnmomofive at 10:28 AM on Oct. 19, 2010

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