Chapter 10 SOCI.docx - Introduction Poverty can be defined...

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Introduction Poverty can be defined as a condition of deprivation due to economic circumstances that is severe enough that the individual in this condition cannot live with dignity in his or her society. The administration of Lyndon Johnson established a wide range of antipoverty programs in the 1960s—programs for education, job training and placement, housing—as a part of its " War on Poverty ." Within just a few years, many of these programs, and the whole ideology behind them, had come under attack. At the core of the debate about poverty in America is the question of whether poverty is the cause of social ills such as crime, poor educational outcomes, and divorce or their result. Perverse incentives are reward structures that lead to suboptimal outcomes by stimulating counterproductive behavior; unintended consequences are results of a policy that were not fully anticipated at the time the policy was implemented, particularly outcomes that are counter to the intentions of the policy makers. The Culture of Poverty The culture of poverty theory argues that poor people adopt certain practices, which differ from those of middle-class or "mainstream" society, in order to adapt and survive in difficult economic circumstances and that sometimes they continue to rely on these practices even after they are no longer useful and are potentially detrimental. The culture of poverty theory was part of a backlash against the policies implemented by President Johnson, and it was used to bolster the arguments of welfare critics. While it may be true that reliance on welfare generates a sense of helplessness and dependency in some people, there are also structural reasons why it can be difficult to transition from welfare to work.
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