“Poverty is a way of life for the poor that is passed down from generation to generation through the family.” Explain and assess this view.
In this essay I will assess and explain the view that poverty is a way of life for the poor that is passed down from generation to generation through the family. Thus, firstly I will assess this view from the culture of poverty.
Firstly, the idea of a culture of poverty was first introduced by Oscar Lewis. He developed the concept from his fieldwork among the urban poor in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Lewis argues the culture of poverty is a design for living transmitted from one generation to the next. The culture of poverty has the following elements, on the individual level, a strong feeling of marginality, helplessness, dependence and inferiority, a sense of resignation and fatalism while on the family level; life is characterized by consensual marriages, a highly relative high incidence of the abandonment of mothers and children, a trend towards mother-centred families and a much greater knowledge of maternal relatives. There are high rates of divorce and desertion by the male family head, resulting in matrifocal families headed by women. Other than that, on the community level the poor society are lacking in participation and integration in the major institutions. The urban poor in Lewis in Lewis’s research do not usually belong to trade unions or any associations; they are also not members of political parties and do not participate in the national welfare agencies and make very little use of public utilities. Thus the family is the only institution in which they directly participate. The culture of poverty takes the force of culture because its characteristics are guides to action that are internalized by the poor and passed on from one generation to the next generation. Lewis argues that the culture of poverty tends to perpetuate itself from generation to generation because of its effect on children. By the time...
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