“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
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Therefore the culture of poverty shows that the attitude of people surrounding the poor people and their mind-set that had been keeping them to stay at the state of being poor longer. Thus this proves that the poverty had been passed down by the family from generation to generation since family is the only institutions that the young generation had been participating. However, instead of viewing the behaviour of the poor as an internalized cultural pattern, many researchers see it as a reaction to situational constraints. The situational constraints suggest that the poor would readily change their behaviour in response to a new set of circumstances once the constraints were removed. In his classic study, Tally’s Corner, Elliot Liebow (1967) strongly supported the situational constraints thesis. The study is based on the participant observation of ‘black streetcorner men’ in a low income area of Washington DC. The men are either unemployed, underemployed (working part-time) or employed in low-paid. When streetcorner men blow a week’s wages, the middle-class tend to interpret this behaviour as evidence of present-time orientation and inability to defer gratification. Liebow argue it is not the time orientation that differentiates the streetcorner with the middle class but the future of the streetcorner men. They are aware of their future thus