Poverty is and continues to be a global crisis. Its history is as complex and as its current situation. However, there is one prevalent belief that people regard as a damning factor to how the world today understands poverty. It’s referred to as the culture of poverty.

The Culture of Poverty

The culture of poverty has long been controversial ever since its conception. It can be traced back to Oscar Lewis’ book entitled “The Children of Sanchez”, which was published in 1961. Here, Lewis studied the Hispanic communities and deemed them as unruly, shortsighted and violent.

What was a one-sided perception soon spiraled into an intricate, discriminating web that concludes poverty is a result of one’s lifestyle and attitude. It’s through this “culture”, the sum of one’s norms and values that led them to their situation. Many argue that this is where the culture of victim-blaming started.

From Lewis’ came more supported interpretations, most famously ones from Michael Harrington, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Edward Banfield who claimed: “The lower-class individual lives from moment to moment… Impulse governs his behavior… He is therefore radically improvident: whatever he cannot consume immediately he considers valueless… [He] has a feeble, attenuated sense of self.”

Drug tests among those who request for health care, food stamps, housing and job training assistance has also become the norm. For example, it’s to deny an impoverished grandmother healthcare support for using marijuana to ease her arthritis.

It’s a nasty postulation that the poor are more prone to misconduct and less deserving of benefits and rights. It’s the real plague that needs eradication.

Why Is It Problematic?

The culture of poverty, however, defended by both democrats and republicans, is an evil assumption that poverty is the result of one’s actions. It focuses so much on the impact of culture on poverty rather than how poverty affects culture.

It’s an incredibly problematic albeit popular belief. It has blocked people from achieving their goals. It has stopped others from getting out of a bad situation and hope for a better future. Moreover, it has isolated a group of people who only want to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

It’s a belief system that has been going on for years that it’s easy to think it’s impossible to demolish. However, the continued efforts of those who believe that poverty is the result of alternative causes are finally making the impact it deserves.

Poverty, after all, is the shortage of resources. It is the result of lack of jobs, poor governance, the absence of affordable health care and education as well as the product of low wages. It is through these factors that one may be driven to violence, shortsightedness, and misconduct.


How Do We Demolish the Culture of Poverty?

There are many ways to demolish the culture of poverty. It doesn’t matter how young or experienced you are. It is the drive to eradicate this belief that the poor are poor because of who they are that sparks a light of hope for them.

Raise awareness

Whether it’s an exhaustive campaign in your school or a talk in your community, raising awareness is the first step. Spreading the knowledge about the problems of appropriating the culture of poverty enlightens people. It makes them realize that to judge the poor for being who they are won’t help them out of their situation. In turn, it won’t make this world a better place.

Raising awareness can change minds and hearts. It can motivate people to do something to make a difference.

Fund studies

The people who believe in the culture of poverty outweigh those who want to provide a wider perspective. That’s why helping to raise funds to support studies on alternative causes can also demolish this destructive belief. There are plenty of those determined to make people understand that its poverty is not merely the sum of its parts.

There are so many means to raise funds. You can conduct cake raffles, a battle of the bands, fun runs, and the like. You can also create a Go Fund Me page or raise awareness through social media.

Be open to education

The culture of poverty has and continues to affect the way people perceive poor people. If you or other people you know do believe in it, being open to learning more about its lapses can change one’s perspective.

The willingness to be educated poses a massive positive impact. What you believe is what you live and how you live your life. It’s what leads to your behavior and how you treat the people around you. Learning more about why the culture of poverty propagates an incredibly discriminating society can help you make a change for the better.

Join the efforts

Countless programs are established to eradicate extreme poverty, along with it the culture of victim blaming. From Yuda Bands to Habitat for Humanity, there is something for everyone to join in. All these projects are all hoping to provide a better future for the poor and give them a second shot at life.

Joining such efforts won’t just fill your hearts with gratitude. It helps you realize just how lucky you are and how many more people need our help. It’s also through joining programs that we discover different skills and passions we never knew we had in us. For all you know, this could be your calling.

Pass the torch

What we teach our children and students at home impacts how the world will be in the years to come. Whether or not it is through negative or positive example, it will dictate how the world will be for everyone. Passing on the torch of hope, light and acceptance make us believe that we are setting up the next generation to be, above all, understanding.

Be the light for others. Inspire them to be a part of a movement that eradicates a withstanding crisis instead of blaming its existence on them.

It will take time. However, it is not impossible to completely demolish an idea that’s akin to a relentless virus. Let’s begin with ourselves.