What Population Was Oscar Lewis Studying When He Coined The Term “culture Of Poverty”

Sociology Test 3 Part 4 Flashcards

When Oscar Lewis invented the phrase “culture of poverty,” he was referring to a particular group. People who are born into poverty and who go on to raise their own children in poverty learn what it is like to live on the margins of society. They become familiar with the social conventions and values connected with that specific way of life, which they then pass on to their children. This is referred to as Oscar Lewis’s Welfare, according to some policy experts, causes more issues than it solves, primarily because it discourages individuals from seeking gainful employment.

What do policy professionals mean when they use the phrases “perverse incentives” and “unintended consequences,” and how do they define them?

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Gated communities are an example of which factor, when combined with wealth disparity, contributes to the widening of the gap between the affluent and the rest of the population?

  • If you want to calculate poverty as a percentage of median income, the definition of relative poverty takes into consideration which crucial element while doing so?
  • According to Mollie Orshansky, she took the U.S.
  • What currently constitutes the biggest proportion of the population in today’s society?
  • What is it about saving for retirement that makes it so tough for almost half of all Americans?
  • The relative worth of present spending in comparison to future savings is described by what word in economics?
  • persuade them to make a commitment to save future income The topic of status consumption has been explored earlier in the book in the chapter on stratification and allocation of resources (Chapter 7).
  • It, in conjunction with the media, sets goals that are out of reach for the majority of us, resulting in us going into debt.

Which of the following does not qualify as an explanation in your text? The system of inequality that exists in the United States has its roots in Europe. The great discrepancy in wealth in the United States is explained by a number of factors, one of which is

Culture of poverty – Wikipedia

At the time of the term “culture of poverty,” Oscar Lewis was investigating a particular group. People who are born into poverty and who go on to raise their own children in poverty learn what it is like to live on the streets of their hometown. They get acquainted with the social conventions and values connected with that specific way of life, which they then pass on to their children. Oscar Lewis’s is the name given to this piece. Welfare, according to some policy experts, causes more issues than it solves, primarily because it discourages individuals from seeking employment.

According to your writing, the researchers advocating the negative income tax should have concentrated on: the children rather than the parents when developing their findings.

It is more difficult to help the poor when there are more problems than solutions.

Chicago Housing Authority, a class-action lawsuit, that public housing was: As a result, individuals who received support with relocation and life-skills training in addition to housing vouchers had less stress and better health, according to the Moving to Opportunity study, which was conducted in 2007.

Which of the following terms defines the measurement of poverty when a household’s income falls below the amount required to purchase food to physically feed all of its members?

In accordance with the theory of relational poverty, poverty is measured by determining: the median income in a certain place, and anything below that figure is deemed poverty.

Department of Agriculture’s guidelines for the minimal quantity of healthful food to consume, assessed the cost for a range of family types, then multiplied this number by a factor of three to calculate the following figures: Initially, food accounted for the greatest proportion of household budgets when the official poverty threshold was established.

It is dishonest to use income-based measures since they conceal the true effect of the following factors: An economist who conducted a study of lottery winners discovered that persons who had no earnings and who were not in the labor before winning:increased their commitment to work after winning the lottery When it comes to retirement savings, over half of all Americans find it tough.

The relative worth of present consumption compared to future savings is described by what word in economics.

to persuade them of the need of preserving future earnings Consumerism based on social status has already been explored earlier in the book in the chapter on stratification (Chapter 7).

The government, in conjunction with the media, sets goals that are out of reach for the vast majority of us, causing us to spiral into debt.

In your writing, which of the following is NOT an example of an explanation? The system of inequality that exists in the United States has its origins in Europe, according to some scholars. The great discrepancy in wealth in the United States is explained by a number of factors, one of which is

Early formulations

Early proponents of the thesis believed that the poor are not only short in resources, but they have also acquired a value system that perpetuates their poverty as well. A subculture develops mechanisms that tend to reproduce itself, according to anthropologist Oscar Lewis. “This is especially true because of what happens to the children who grow up in the subculture in terms of their worldview, goals, and character,” Lewis writes. Lewis (1969, p. 199) describes the process as follows: The impoverished, according to some subsequent researchers (Young 2004;Newman 1999;EdinKefalas 2005;Dohan 2002, Hayes 2003, Carter 2005, Waller 2002, Dunier 1992), have no different values than the rich.

Five Mexican Families: Case Studies on the Culture of Poverty in the United States (1959).

While the disadvantages of poverty were systematic and so forced on these individuals of society, he maintained that the emergence of an independent subculture resulted as a result of children being indoctrinated into habits and attitudes that perpetuated their incapacity to leave the underclass.

  1. People who live in a culture of poverty have a strong sense of marginality, helplessness, reliance, and a sense of belonging that is difficult to describe.
  2. Along with this sense of impotence, there is a pervasive sense of inferiority and personal unworthiness among the general public.
  3. In the United States, African Americans’ culture of poverty is compounded by racial prejudice, which compounds their plight even further.
  4. Theirs is a marginalized group of individuals who are only familiar with their own problems, their own local conditions, their own area, and their own way of life.
  5. In other words, they are not mindful of their social class, despite the fact that they are extremely sensitive to social status differences.
  6. Lewis (1998) defines formalized euphemism as Despite the fact that Lewis was concerned with poverty in the developing world, the notion of “culture of poverty” was appealing to public policy makers and politicians in the United States.
  7. Additionally, in Michael Harrington’s book The Other America, he discusses American poverty and the notion of “culture of poverty” emerges as a crucial theme (1962).

According to Harrington, the culture of poverty is a structural notion defined by social institutions of exclusion that contribute to the creation and perpetuation of the cycle of poverty in the United States and its territories.


Since the 1960s, opponents of Lewis’s culture of poverty explanations for the continuation of the underclasses have sought to demonstrate that real-world facts do not conform to Lewis’s model of social mobility (GoodeEames 1996). A critique of it was released by anthropologist Carol Stack in 1974. She labeled it “fatalistic” and pointed out that believing in the notion of a culture of poverty does not represent the poor so much as it serves the interests of the wealthy. She says, quoting another opponent of Oscar Lewis’ Culture of Poverty, Hylan Lewis, in her article: In addition, as Hylan Lewis points out, the culture of poverty has a fundamentally political element.

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In the words of Lewis (1971), it is “an notion that people believe in, desire to believe in, and possibly require belief in.” They would want to think that increasing the wealth of the poor would have no effect on their life styles or values, but would instead just flow bigger quantities of money down bottomless, self-destructive holes.

  1. Indeed, even in the most respected universities in the country, beliefs of racial inferiority that have been around for decades are becoming increasingly popular.
  2. As a result of the reaction, experts in sociology and anthropology have begun to look at institutions rather than “blaming the victim,” which they believe is more accurate (Bourgois 2001).
  3. However, most researchers today reject the concept of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty as being true.
  4. As a result, it is frequently hesitant to categorize explanations into “structural” and “cultural” categories, owing to the increasingly doubtful relevance of this long-standing difference.

See also

  • Poverty cycle
  • Involuntary unemployment
  • Social exclusion Speech about Pound Cake
  • The impact of welfare on poverty
  • When Work Is No Longer Available


  • Phillipe Bourgois is the author of this work (2001). “Poverty as a Cultural Norm.” ICESBS stands for the International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Wave Land Press
  • Patricia Cohen
  • Wave Land Press (18 October 2010). Researchers Return to the ‘Culture of Poverty,'” according to the article. The New York Times
  • Nicolas Duvoux
  • The New York Times (6 October 2010). “The culture of poverty is being re-examined.” Judith Goode and Edwin Eames have written a book called Books and Ideas (ISSN 2105-3030). (1996). “An Anthropological Critique of the Culture of Poverty,” according to the author. Gmelch and Zenner (Gmelch and Zenner) (eds.). Michael Harrington’s Urban Life is published by Waveland Press (1962). Poverty in the United States is known as “The Other America.” Lewis, Oscar, and Macmillan (ISBN 9781451688764)
  • (1959). Five households from Mexico serve as case studies on the culture of poverty in the country. Lewis, Oscar
  • Basic Books
  • Lewis, Oscar (1969). “Poverty as a Cultural Norm.” In Daniel P. Moynihan’s book (ed.). Perspectives from the Social Sciences on Understanding Poverty Lewis, Oscar, ed., New York: Basic Books, pp.187–220
  • Lewis, Oscar (1996). “Poverty as a Cultural Norm.” Gmelch and Zenner (Gmelch and Zenner) (eds.). Urban Life, published by Waveland Press and written by Oscar Lewis (1998). “Poverty has become a cultural norm.” Society.35(2): 7–9.doi: 10.1007/BF02838122.PMID5916451.S2CID144250495
  • Mayer, Susan E. Society.35(2): 7–9.doi: 10.1007/BF02838122.PMID5916451.S2CID144250495
  • (1997). What money can’t buy: a family’s income and the life prospects of their children. Small, Mario Luis
  • Harding, David J
  • Lamont, Michèle
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, ISBN 978-0-674-58733-5, LCCN96034429
  • Small, Mario Luis
  • Lamont, Michèle (2010). Cultural and economic inequalities are being re-examined (PDF). Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.629(1): 6–27.doi: 10.1177/0002716210362077.ISSN0002-7162.S2CID53443130
  • Stack, Carol B. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.629(1): 6–27.doi: 10.1177/0002716210362077.ISSN0002-7162.S2CID53443130
  • Stack, Carol B (1974). All Our Kin: Strategies for Surviving in a Black Community is a book on survival strategies in a black community. HarperRow.ISBN978-0-06-013974-2

Culture Of Poverty

BIBLIOGRAPHY Oscar Lewis, an anthropologist, developed the concept of a “culture of poverty” in his 1959 book, Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty, which was published in 1959. According to the culture of poverty idea, living under situations of widespread poverty will result in the creation of a culture or subculture that is specifically adapted to those conditions. Throughout this society, there are prevalent sentiments of helplessness, dependent on others, marginalization, and impotence.

The imposition of poverty on a population, according to Lewis, was the structural cause of its development into a culture of poverty, which then became autonomous as the behaviors and attitudes developed within a culture of poverty were passed down to subsequent generations through socialization processes.

The culture of poverty is based on the premise that culture is relatively fixed and unchanging—that once a population has become entrenched in the culture of poverty, no amount of intervention in the name of poverty alleviation will be able to alter the cultural attitudes and behaviors held by members of that population.

  • According to this line of reasoning, the culture of poverty hypothesis moves the blame for poverty away from social and economic constraints and onto the shoulders of the poor.
  • Several methodological flaws may be found in the evidence offered in support of the culture of poverty, including a reliance on the idea that behavior is exclusively a function of favored cultural values.
  • The formation of a system of deviant norms is presupposed by the culture of poverty hypothesis, in which behaviors such as drug use and gang membership are considered as the standard (normative) and even preferred behaviors of individuals who live in the ghetto, according to the theory.
  • In other words, those living in the ghetto may perceive themselves as being compelled to turn to unlawful means of earning money, such as drug sales, in order to live in the face of extreme poverty.
  • Poverty theory and culture have had a significant impact on public policy in the United States, serving as the foundation for public policy toward the poor since the early to mid-1960s and having a significant influence on President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.
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Poor blacks in the United States, according to Moynihan’s report, were entangled in a “tangle of pathology,” the root of which was the breakdown of the black family—specifically, the decline of the traditional male-headed household, which resulted in a deviant matriarchal family structure—as a result of the breakdown of the black family.

Historically, Moynihan maintained that slavery was the source of this aberrant family structure, since the dissolution of “traditional” families shattered the will of the Negro people, particularly black males.

The concepts of a culture of poverty and a culture of dependency, which are connected, have served as the foundation for anti-poverty legislation, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which was established in 1997 and reauthorized in 2005 as part of welfare reform.

The dispute over whether poverty is caused by social, political, and economic factors or by entrenched habits on the side of the poor continues among academics, field sociologists, and policymakers in the public and private sectors.

Benign Neglect; Culture; Culture, Low and High; Cultural Determinism; Deviance; Lewis, Oscar;Moynihan Report; Moynihan, Daniel Patrick; Social Pathology; Poverty; Public Assistance (including welfare), Street Culture, Structuralism, Welfare State


Eleanor Burke Leacock’s novel Eleanor Burke Leacock was published in 1971. The Culture of Poverty: A Critique of the Concept New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc. Oscar Lewis was born in 1959. Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty (Five Families) Basic Books is based in New York. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was born in 1965. The Negro Family: A Case for Collective Action at the National Level. The Office of Policy Planning and Research of the United States Department of Labor is located in Washington, DC.

historical context.

William Ryan published a book in 1976 titled Putting the blame on the victim.

David Dietrich is a well-known actor.

The Myth of the Culture of Poverty

I am sitting in the back corner, writing down my concluding thoughts as the kids begin to flow out of Janet’s classroom. Janet sighs and settles onto a seat next to me, her face flushed with disappointment. “I really like these kids,” she says, as if she’s trying to persuade me. “They have my heartfelt admiration. My optimism, on the other hand, is diminishing.” “Can you tell me why?” I inquire, as I tuck my notes into a file folder. “They’re well-informed. I recognize that they are intelligent, however.” After then, the floodgates of deficit open: “They are uninterested in going to school.

  • I’m lucky if two or three of their parents show up for conference meetings with their children.
  • I witnessed some of the most profound moments of teaching and learning, as well as times of care and support.
  • Janet, like the majority of educators, is committed to fostering an atmosphere in which each student achieves his or her full potential.
  • The most prominent of these is the “culture of poverty” myth, which is the concept that impoverished people have ideas, attitudes, and actions that are more or less monolithic and predictable.

Roots of the Culture of Poverty Concept

The term “culture of poverty” was developed by Oscar Lewis in his 1961 novel The Children of Sanchez. Using ethnographic research conducted in tiny Mexican towns, Lewis developed his argument. His research identified over 50 characteristics that were common to all of these societies, including regular violence, a lack of a sense of history, a failure to prepare for the future, and so on. Despite the fact that Lewis was only investigating a limited number of places, he extrapolated his findings to show a widespread culture of poverty.

  • Nonetheless, he was responsible for an avalanche of research, which is particularly significant in our age of data-driven decision making.
  • Others examined the whole body of information pertaining to the paradigm of poverty and culture of poverty (see AbellLyon, 1979; OrtizBriggs, 2003; Rodman, 1977).
  • On one point, though, they are all in agreement: There is no such thing as a culture of poverty in any sense of the word.
  • Rather than being a single notion, the concept of “culture of poverty” is built up from a collection of smaller clichés that, while erroneous, have managed to infiltrate mainstream thought and been accepted as unquestionable reality.
  • MYTH: People from low socioeconomic backgrounds are uninspired and have poor work ethics.

Despite the misconception that poor people are indolent, 83 percent of children from low-income homes have at least one worked parent; over 60 percent of children from low-income families have at least one employed parent who works full-time and all year (National Center for Children in Poverty, 2004).

  1. According to the Economic Policy Institute (2002), impoverished working individuals put in more hours per week at their jobs than their richer colleagues.
  2. The Reality: Low-income parents have the same views toward education as do high-income parents, according to research (Compton-Lilly, 2003; LareauHorvat, 1999; Leichter, 1978).
  3. This is not because low-income parents are less concerned about their children’s education, but rather because they have less access to school involvement than their wealthier peers.
  4. It is more realistic to say that schools that fail to take these concerns into account do not place as much significance on the engagement of impoverished families as they do on the involvement of other families in their educational endeavors.
  5. All people, regardless of the languages and dialects they speak, employ a whole continuum of language registers, regardless of their native language or dialect (Bomer, Dworin, May,Semingson, 2008).

Even those variants of English that are generally considered to be deficient—Appalachian dialects, for example, or what some refer to as “Black English Vernacular”—are no less complex than what is considered “standard English.” MYTH: People from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol.

Even while drug sales are more conspicuous in low-income neighborhoods, drug usage is equally prevalent in low-income, middle-class, and rich neighborhoods (Saxe, Kadushin, Tighe, Rindskopf,Beveridge, 2001).

According to previous study, alcohol misuse is significantly more widespread among rich individuals than among poor people.

Their findings are in line with this previous research (Diala, Muntaner,Walrath, 2004; Galea, Ahern, Tracy,Vlahov, 2007). To put it another way, when you combine the use of alcoholic beverages with illegal substances, rich individuals are more likely than poor people to be substance abusers.

The Culture of Classism

The idea of a “culture of poverty” serves to divert our attention away from a more harmful culture that does exist: the culture of classism, which is a kind of racism. In our classrooms today, this culture is becoming even more entrenched. As a result, even the most well-intentioned of us, such as my friend Janet, have low expectations for students from low-income families. It causes teachers to be fearful of their most helpless students. And, worst of all, it diverts attention away from the one thing that all people living in poverty have in common: unequal access to fundamental human rights.

  1. Often in education, we speak about the deficit viewpoint, which is defined by pupils’ inadequacies rather than their strengths.
  2. To spread their worldview, deficit theorists employ two strategies: (1) relying on well-established prejudices, and (2) disregarding structural problems, such as unequal access to high-quality education, that contribute to the perpetuation of poverty.
  3. In the event that we convince ourselves that poverty is not caused by vast disparities (in which we may be involved), but rather by the flaws of impoverished people themselves, we will be considerably less inclined to support genuine anti-poverty legislation and initiatives.
  4. This application of deficit theory develops the concept of what Gans (1995) refers to as theundeserving poor — a sector of our society that does not deserve to be treated fairly in our society.
  5. The ways in which our society cheats them out of chances that their richer counterparts take for granted are overlooked as we strive to “correct” the imaginary culture of impoverished pupils.
  6. They do not have access to health care, living-wage employment, safe and cheap housing, clean air and water, and so on (Books, 2004), which makes it difficult for them to reach their full academic and professional potential.
  7. What is more important to ask is whether or not we are willing to address classism in our own schools and classrooms, at the very least.
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In contrast to their wealthier peers, poor students are more likely than their wealthier peers to attend schools that receive less funding (Carey, 2005); have lower teacher salaries (Karoly, 2001); have more limited computer and Internet access (Gorski, 2003); have larger class sizes; have higher student-teacher ratios; have a less-rigorous curriculum; and have fewer experienced teachers (Barton, 2004).

According to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (2004), low-income schools were more likely to suffer from cockroach or rat infestations, dirty or inoperative student restrooms, a high number of teacher vacancies and substitute teachers, a higher number of teachers who are not licensed in their subject areas, insufficient or outdated classroom materials, and inadequate or nonexistent learning facilities, such as science labs, than higher-income schools.

The state of Minnesota has multiple school districts that provide universal half-day kindergarten while also allowing those families that can afford it to pay for full-day kindergarten programs.

We are required to overlook these injustices, or even worse, to accept them as normal and legitimate, according to deficit theory.

Regardless matter how much children from low-income families love school, they must overcome enormous inequalities in order to succeed.

Education is often referred to as the “great equalizer,” and this is perhaps the most pervasive fallacy of them all. It is impossible to be anything other than what it is without significant modification.

What Can We Do?

The socioeconomic opportunity gap can only be closed if we stop attempting to “rescue” impoverished children and instead focus on the ways in which our educational institutions foster classism and racism. Among other things, this means eliminating the disparities described above as well as policies such as tracking and ability grouping, segregational redistricting, and the privatization of public schools. It is necessary to demand the greatest education possible for all kids, including higher-order pedagogies, new learning resources, and a holistic approach to teaching and learning.

Of course, we should not persuade kids who are suffering right now that, if they can only hang on until the end of this education reform, everything will be OK.

  • We must educate ourselves on the issues of class and poverty. Repudiate the deficit hypothesis and work with students and coworkers to unlearn erroneous ideas of poverty
  • Make participation in school activities available to all families
  • Inspire others by following Janet’s example and encouraging them to watch our classes for evidence of class prejudice. Continue to reach out to low-income families even when they appear to be unresponsive (and without presuming that we know why they are unresponsive)
  • Respond when your colleagues make negative assumptions about disadvantaged pupils or parents. Remember that no one should ever presume that all students have equal access to learning resources like as computers or the Internet, and no work should ever be assigned that necessitates this access without allowing adequate in-school time for completion. Make certain that learning materials do not portray disadvantaged people in a negative light
  • Struggle to prevent low-income pupils from being unfairly placed to special education or low-achieving academic pathways Ensure that the curriculum is relevant to underprivileged pupils by relying on and recognizing their prior experiences and intelligences. Discuss concerns of class and poverty, such as consumer culture, the breakup of labor unions, and environmental injustice
  • Also discuss movements for social justice and equality. Educate students about the anti-poverty activities of Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller, the Black Panthers, César Chavez, and other American icons—as well as on why this aspect of their legacies has been expunged from our national memory. Make an effort to ensure that school food programs provide nutritious selections
  • Examine potential corporate-school relationships, excluding those that call for the adoption of certain curricula or pedagogical approaches.

Our own class prejudices should be taken into consideration while interacting with and expecting students, and this is especially true for first-year students. Afterwards, we must question ourselves, “Where exactly does the shortfall exist in reality?” Are impoverished people, those who are most marginalized, the ones who have the most to gain from it? Is the problem with our education system itself—with the grotesque inequities that exist in our institutions, as Jonathan Kozol puts it? What if the fault lies with us—educators with indisputably good intentions who, far too frequently, succumb to the lure of a fast fix, an easily consumable framework that never forces us to analyze how our actions and attitudes contribute to the culture of classism?

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