The behaviors of poverty
are inconsistent with middle class systems. To help people move upwards
anybody involved in advocacy for the poor ought to know those behaviors
and design an intervention plan.
The first task is to determine whether or not the individual has any resources to learn middle class systems. Could there be resources in the individual’s family or in the community?
What is the best way to utilize those resources to
teach the individual to acquire the middle class behaviors in place of
those in poverty?
The aim of this analysis is to help the mentor, case manager or volunteer develop a strategy that works best for both.
Here are a few examples of behaviors that will be
found in any poor community in Cincinnati or anywhere else; behaviors
which are incompatible with middle class systems.
The first is loud arguing: In poverty,
language is participatory with more than one person participating in
story telling. Second, the culture of poverty distrusts authority
believing that organized society is inherently unfair and dishonest.
These factors contribute to the second pattern – anger. In most cases anger is a sign of fear.
Fighting physically is another behavior
pattern in poverty. In fact fighting is a means of identity as well as a
means of survival... The language of negotiation is lacking in poverty.
Then there is the pattern of vulgarity due to the lack of formal language.
It should not surprise a mentor, a case manager or law enforcement personnel that a client is unable to follow directions. In poverty the present moment is what matters. Sequence is of no value. As a result, life is disorganized, lacking schedule, plans and priorities. In turn, tasks may remain incomplete.
Next we will examine possible intervention when confronted with some of these behaviors.