Lewis-TheCultureofPoverty

Lewis-TheCultureofPoverty - LA VIDA A Puen‘o Ricuu Family...

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Unformatted text preview: LA VIDA A Puen‘o Ricuu Family in the Culture of Poverty—- Sun Juan and New York First Printing @ Copyright. 1965, 1956, by Oscar Lewis All rights reserved under International and Pan American Cupyright Conventions. Published in New York by Random House. Inc, and simultaneonslj,r in TorontoI Canada. by Random House of Canada Limited. Partions of this book. in revised form, originallyF appeared in Harper's, Commentary, and Scientific American. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 66~11983 Manufactured in the United States of America by H. Wolff, New York Design by Victoria Dudley INTRODUCTION close friends outside the family in addition to women friends. Friction between the Rios households was com- mon. but it was no worse than in La Esmeralda. We found marital conflict to be at a high level among the Puerto Rican and child-beating and by a 'more In. This. in large part. explains the , separations, consensual unions and BECAUSE the research desi cept of a culture of some of its dimensions here. Although a great deal has been writ ten about poverty and the poor, the concept of a culture of poverty is relatively new. I first suggested it in 1959 in my book Five Families: Mexican Case Studies in the Culture of Poverty. The phrase is a catchy one and has become widely used and misused."r Michael Harrington usod it extensively in his book played an important role in s United States. Hones-er. ! 1 sense than I had intended. t e precisely as a conceptual model. with special emphasis upon the distinction between poverty and the culture of poverty, The absence of inte nsive anthropological studies of poor families from a wide variety of national and cultural contexts and especially * There has been relatively little discussion of the cultur in the professional journals. however. Two articles deal with detail: Elizabeth Herzog, “Some Assumptions About the Servicrz Review, December 1963, pp. Organization for Economic Coupe e of poverty concept the problem in some Poor," in The Seeini 389-402; Lloyd Ohlin, “Inherited Poverty," ration and Development {no date), Paris. INTRODUCTION [xiiii cultural regularities. The model presented here is therefore provisional and subject to modification as new studies become available. Throughout recorded history, in literature, in proverbs and in popular sayings, we find two opposite evaluations of the nature of the poor. Some characterize the poor as blessed, virtuous, upright, serene, independent, hon- est, kind and happy. Others characterize them as evil, mean, violent, sordid and criminal. These contradictory and confusing evaluations are also reflected in the in-fighting that is going on in the current war against poverty. Some stress the great potential of the poor for self-help, leadership and community organization, while others point to the sometimes irreversible, destructive effect of poverty upon individual character, and therefore emphasize the need for guidance and control to remain in the hands of the middle class, which presumably has better mental health. These opposing views reflect a political power struggle bettveen compet— ing groups. However, some of the confusion results from the failure to distin- guish between poverty per se and the culture of poverty and the tendency to focus upon the individual personality rather than upon the group—wthat is, the family and the slum community. As an anthropologist I have tried to understand poverty and its associ- ated traits as a culture or, more accurately, as a subculture“ with its own structure and rationale, as a way of life which is passed down from generation to generation along family lines. This view directs attention to the fact that the culture of poverty in modern nations is not only a matter of economic depriva- tion, of disorganization or of the absence of something. It is also something positive and provides some rewards without which the poor could hardly carry on. EISewhere I have suggested that the culture of poverty transcends re- gional, rural-urban and national differences and shows remarkable similarities in family structure, interpersonal relations, time orientation, value systems and spending patterns. These cross-national similarities are examples of independ- ent invention and convergence. They are common adaptations to common problems. The culture of poverty can come into being in a variety of historical contests. However, it tends to grow and flourish in societies with the following set of conditions: (I) a cash economy. wage labor and production for profit; (2) a persistently high rate of unemployment and underemployment for un— skilled labor; (3) low wages; (4) the failure to provide social. political and economic organization, either on a voluntary basis or by government imposi- tion, for the low-income population: (5) the existence of a bilateral kinship system rather than a unilateral onc;i and finally, (6) the existence of a set of “While the term “subculture of poverty" is technically more accurate, I have used “culture of poverty” as a shorter form. ‘r In a unilineal kinship system, descent is reckoned either through males or xliv] INTRODUCTION values in the dominant class which stresses the accumulation of wealth and property, the possibility of upward mobility and thrift, and explains low eco- nomic status as the result of personal inadequacy or inferiority. The way of life which develops among some of the poor under these conditions is the culture of poverty. It can best be studied in urban or rural slums and can be described in terms of some seventy interrelated social, eco- nomic and psychological traits.10 However, the number of traits and the rela- tionships between them may varyr from society to society and from family to family. For example, in a highly literate society, illiteracy may be more diag- nostic of the culture of poverty than in a society where illiteracy is widespread and where even the well—to-do may be illiterate. as in some Mexican peasant villages before the revolution. The culture ofpoverty is both an adaptation and a reaction of the poor to their marginal position in a class-stratified. highly individuated, capitalistic so- ciety. It represents an eflort to cope with feelings of hopelessness and despair which develop from the realization of the improbability of achieving success in terms of the values and goals of the larger society. Indeed, many of the traits of the culture of poverty can be viewed as attempts at local solutions for prob- lems not met by existing institutions and agencies because the people are not eligible for them, cannot afford them, or are ignorant or suspicious of them. For example, unable to obtain credit from banks, they are thrown upon their own resources and organize informal credit devices without interest. through females. When traced exclusively through males it is called patrilineal or agnatic descent; when reckoned exclusively through females it is called matrilineal or uterine descent. In a bilateral or cognatic system, descent is traced through males and females without emphasis on either line. In a uniliueal system, the lineage consists of all the descendants of one an- cestor. In a patrilineal system, the lineage is composed of all the descendants through males of one male ancestor. A matrilineage consists of all the descendants through females of one female ancestor. The lineage may thus contain a very large number of generations. If bilateral descent is reckoned, however, the number of generations that can be included in a social unit is limited, since the number of ancestors doubles every generation. Unilineal descent groups If“lineages" or “clans") are corporate groups in the sense that the lineage or clan may act as a collectivity: it can take blood vengeance against another descent group, it can hold property, etc. However, the bilateral kin group (the “kindred") can rarely act as a collectivity because it is not a "group" except from the point of view of a particular individual, and, furthermore, has no continuity over time. In a unilineal system, an individual is assigned to a group by virtue of his birth. In contrast, a person born into a bilateral system usually has a choice of relatives whom he cheeses to recugnize as “kin” and with whom he wants to associate. This generally leads to a greater difiuseness and fragmentation of ties with relatives over time. INTRODUCTION [xlv The culture of poverty, however, is not only an adaptation to a set of objective conditions of the larger society. Once it comes into existence it tends to perpetuate itself from generation to generation because of its effect on the children. By the time slum children are age six or seven they have usually absorbed the basic values and attitudes of their subculture and are not psycho- logically geared to take full advantage of changing conditions or increased opportunities which may occur in their lifetime. Most frequently the culture of poverty develops when a stratified social and economic system is breaking down or is being replaced by another, as in the case of the transition from feudalism to capitalism or during periods of rapid technological change. Often it results from imperial conquest in which the native social and economic structure is smashed and the natives are main- tained in a servile colonial status, sometimes for many genprations. It can also occur in the process of detribalization, such as that now going on in Africa. The most likely candidates for the culture of poverty are the peOple who come from the lower strata of a rapidly changing society and are already par- tially alienated from it. Thus landless rural workers who migrate to the cities can be expected to develop a culture of poverty much more readily than rni- grants from stable peasant villages with a welhorganized traditional culture. In this connection there is a striking contrast between Latin America, where the rural population long ago made the transition from a tribal to a peasant soci— ety, and Africa, which is still close to its tribal heritage. The more corporate nature of many of the African tribal societies, in contrast to Latin American rural communities, and the persistence of village ties tend to inhibit or delay the formation of a full-blown culture of vaerty in many of the African towns ' and cities. The special conditions of apartheid in South Africa, where the mi- grants are segregated into separate “locations” and do not enjoy freedOm of movement, create special problems. Here the institutionalization of repression and discrimination tend to develop a greater sense of identity and group con- scrousness. The culture of poverty can be studied from various points of view: the relationship between the subculture and the larger society; the nature of the slum community; the nature of the family; and the attitudes, values and char~ acter structure of the individual. 1. The lack of effective participation and integration of the poor in the major institutions of the larger society is one of the crucial characteristics of the culture of poverty. This is a complex matter and results from a variety of factors which may include lack of economic resources, segregation and dis- crimination, fear, suspicion or apathy, and the development of local solutions for problems. However, “participation” in some of the institutions of the larger society—for example, in the jails, the army and the public relief system—does not per se eliminate the traits of the culture of poverty. in the case of a relief xlvi] INTRODUCTION system which barely keeps people alive, both the basic poverty and the sense of hopelessness are perpetuated rather than eliminated. Low wages, chronic unemployment and underemployment lead to low incense, lack of property ownership, absence of savings. absence of food re— serves in the home. and a chronic shortage of cash. These conditions reduce the possibility of effective participation in the larger economic system. And as a response to these conditions we find in the culture of poverty a high inci- dence of pawning of personal goods, borrowing from local moneylenders at usurious rates of interest, spontaneous informal credit devices organized by neighbors. the use of second—hand clothing and furniture, and the pattern of frequent buying of small quantities of food many times a day as the need arises. People with a culture of poverty produce very little wealth and receive very little in return. They have a low level of literacy and education, usually do not belong to labor unions. are not members of political parties. generally do not participate in the national welfare agencies. and make very little use of banks, hospitals, department stores. museums or art galleries. They have a critical attitude toward some of the basic institutions of the dominant classes, hatred of the police, mistrust of government and those in high position, and a cynicism which extends even to the church. This gives the culture of pelverty a high potential for protest and for being used in political movements aimed against the existing social order. ' People with a culture of poverty are aware of middle-class values, talk about them and even claim some of them as their own, but on the whole they do not live by them. Thus it is important to distinguish between what they say and what they do. For example, many will tell you that marriage by law, by the church, or by both, is the ideal form of marriage, but few will marry. To men who have no steady jobs or other sources of income, who do not own property and have no wealth to pass on to their children, who are present-time oriented and who want to avoid the expense and legal difficulties involved in formal marriage and divorce, free unions or consensual marriage makes a lot of sense. Women will often turn down offers of marriage because they feel it lies them down to men who are immature, punishing and generally unreliable. Women feel that consensual union gives them a better break; it gives them some of the freedom and flexibility that men have. By not giving the fathers of their children legal status as husbands, the women have a stronger claim on their children if they decide to leave their men. It also gives women exclusiVe rights to a house or any other property they may own. 2. When We look at the culture of poverty on the local community level. we find poor housing conditions, crowding, gregariousness, but above all a minimum of organization beyond the level of the nuclear and extended family. Occasionally there are informal, temporary groupings or voluntary associa- tions within slums. The existence of neighborhood gangs which cut across Inraooocrton [xivii nee boyond the zero point of level of organization- of poverty its marginal and anachronistic quality in our ' ' ' ' ' peoples have modern urban there may be a sense of in slum neighborhoods. community and esprit de corp This can vary within a single city, or from region to region or country to ' factors influencing this variation are the size of the slum, of residence, incidence of home its location and physical characteristics, length and landownership (versus squatter rights), rentals, ethnicity, kinship ties, separated from and freedom or lack of freedom of movement. When slums are by enclosing walls or other physical barriers, when rents d stability of residence is great (Menty or thirty years), utes a distinct ethnic, racial or language group, is compndrazgo, and when there are some internal e of local this combination of favorab organization and esprit de corps a sense of territo- slum dwellers. In spite of the generally low level of organization, 5 in urban slums and are low and fixed an when the population constit bound by ties of kinship or associations, then the sens it many cases er, even where internal is at a bare minimum and people move around a great deal, riality develops which sets off the slum neighborho se of territoriality r In Mexico City and San Juan this sen availability of low-income housing outside the slum areas. sense of territoriality grows out of the segregati which confines the rural migrants to s 3. On the family level the major tra ture of poverty are the absence of childhood as a specially prolonged and protected stage in the life cycle, early initiation into sex, free unions or consensual marriages, a rela- tively high incidence of the abandonment of wi children, a trend to- ward female- or mother-centered families and consequently a much knowledge of maternal relatives, a strong predisposition to authoritarianism, lack of privacy.-verbal emphasis upon family solidarity which is only rarely achieved because of sibling rivalry, and competition for limited goods and maternal affection. 4. On the leve In South Africa the the government, 1 of the individua are a strong and of inferiority. l feeling of marginality, of helplessness, o f slum dwellers in Mexrco found this to be true 0 families who do not constitute a distinct ethnic or racial group and who do not suffer from racial discrimination. In the United States, of course, the culture of poverty of the Negroes has the additional disadvantage of racial discrimina- tion, but as I have already suggested, this additional disadvantage contains a h seems to be great potential for revolutionary protest and organization whic xlviii] INTRODUCTION absent in the slums of Mexico City or among the poor whites in the South. Other traits include a high incidence of maternal deprivation. of orality, of weak ego structure, confusion of sexual identification, a lack of impulse control, a strong present-time orientation with relatively little ability to defer gratification and to plan for the future, a sense of resignation and fatalism. a widespread belief in male superiority, and a high tolerance for psychological pathology of all sorts. People with a culture of poverty are provincial and locally oriented and have very little sense of history. They know only their own troubles. their own local conditions. their own neighborhood, their own way on life. Usually they do not have the knowledge, the vision or the ideology to see the similarities between their problems and those of their counterparts elsewhere in the world. They are not class-conscious, although they are very sensitive indeed to status distinctions. rights movement among the Negroes improve their self-image and self~reSpect than have their economic advances, although, without doubt, the two are mutually reinforcing. The distinction between poverty model described here. There are degrees of poverty and many kinds of poor people. The culture of poverty refers to one way of life shared by poor people in given historical and social contexts. The economic traits which I have listed for the culture of poverty are necessary but not sufficient to define the phe- nomena I have in mind. There are a number of historical examples of very poor segments of the population which do not have a way of life that I would describe as a Subculture of poverty. Here I should like to give four examples: poor natural resources: or of both, but they do not have the traits of the subculture of poverty. Indeed, they do not constitute a subculture because their societies are not highly stratified. In spite of their poverty they have a relatively integrated, satisfying and self-sufficient culture. Even the simplest food-gathering and hunting tribes have a consider- able amount of organization, bands and band chiefs, tribal councils and local self-government—traits which are not found in the culture of poverty. INTRODUCTION [xlix 2 In India the lower castes (the Chamars, the leather workers, and the Bhangis. the sweepers) may be desperately poor, both in the villages ' them are integrated into the larger so- hoyat“ organizations which cut across 'derable amount of power.T In addi- tion to the caste system, which gives individuals a sense of identity and belonging, there is still another factor, the clan system. Wherever there are unilateral kinship systems or clans one would not expect to find the culture of poverty, because a clan system gives people a sense of belonging to a corporate body with a history and a life of its own, thereby providing a sense of continuity, a sense of a past and of a future. 3. The Jews of eastern Europe Were very poor, but they did not have many of the traits of the culture of poverty because of their tradition of literacy, the great value placed upon learning, the organization of the community around the rabbi, the proliferation of local voluntary associations, and their religion which taught that they were the chosen people. 4. My fourth example is speculative and relates to socialism. On the basis of my limited experience in one socialist country—Cuba—aand on the basis of my reading, I am inclined to believe that the culture of poverty does not exist in the socialist countries. I first Went to Cuba in 1947 as a visiting professor for the State Department. At that time I began a study of a sugar plantation in Melena del Sur and of a slum in Havana. After the Castro Revolution 1 made my second trip to Cuba as a correspondent for a major magazine, and l revisited the same slum and some of the same families. The physical aspect of the slum had changed very little, except for a beautiful new nursery school. It was clear that the people were still desperately poor, but I found much less of the despair. apathy and hopelessness which are so diagnostic of urban slums in the culture of poverty. They ex- pressed great confidence in their leaders and hepe for a better life in the future. The slum itself was new highly organized, with block committees, educational committees, party committees. The people were given a doctrine which g humanity. (I was told by one Cuban official that they had practically eliminated delinquency by giving arms to the delinquents!) on designed to provide caste leadership. and Bombay an incipient culture t able to do family studies there as * A formal organizati if It may be that in the slums of Calcutta poverty is developing. It would be highly desir crucial test of the cnlture-of—poverty hypothesis. I] INTRODUCTION It is my impression that the Castro regime—unlike Marx and En- gels—did not write off the so-called lumpen proletariat as an inherently reactionary and anti-revolutionary force, but rather saw its revolution~ ary potential and tried to utilize it. In this connection, Frantz Fanou makes a similar cValuation of the role of the iumpen proletariat based upon his experience in the Algerian struggle for independence. In his recently published book 1' he Wrote: It is within this mass of humanity, this people of the shanty towns, at the core of the lumpen proletariat, that the rebellion will find its urban spearhead. For the lumpen proletariat. that horde of. starving men. Uprooted from their tribe and from their clan. constitutes one of the most spontaneous and most radically revolutionary forces of a colo— nized people. My own studies of the urban poor in the slums of San Juan do not support the generalizations of Fanon. I have found very little revolu- tionary spirit or radical ideology among low-income Pucrto Ricans. On the contrary, most of the families I studied were quite conserva- tive politically and about half of them were in favor of the Republican Statehood Party. It seems to me that the revolutionary potential of people with a culture of poverty will vary considerably according to the national context and the particular historical circumstances. In a country like Algeria which was fighting for its independence, the lumpen proletariat was drawn into the struggle and became a vital force. However, in countries like Puerto Rico, in which the movement for independence has very little mass support, and in countries like MexiCo which achieved their independence :1 long time ago and are now in their postrevolutionary period, the lumpen proletariat is not a leading source of rebellion or of revolutionary spirit. In effect, we find that in primitive societies and in caste societies, the culture of poverty does not develop. In socialist, fascist and in highly developed capitalist societies with a welfare state, the culture of poverty tends to decline. I suspect that the culture of poverty our— ishes in, and is generic to, the early free-enterprise stage of capitalism and that it is also endemic in colonialism. It is important to distinguish between different profiles in the subculture of poverty depending upon the national context in which these subcultures are found. If we think of the culture of poverty primarily in terms of the factor of integration in the larger society and a sense of identification with the great tradition of that society, or with a new emerging revolutionary tradition, then we will not be surprised that some slum dwellers with a lower per capita in— come may have moved farther may from the core characteristics of the cul- ture of poverty than others with a higher per capita income. For example, ...._. .— ufim:mfim “2,. INTRODUCTION [1i Puerto Rico has a much higher per capita income than Mexico, yet Mexicans have a deeper sense of identity. I have listed fatalism and a low level of aspiration as one of the key traits for the subculture of poverty. Here too, however, the national context makes a big difference. Certainly the level of aspiration of even the poorest sector of the population in a country like the United States with its traditional ideology of upward mobility and democracy is much higher than in more backward countries like Ecuador and Peru, where both the ideology and the actual pos- sibilities of upward mobility are extremely limited and where authoritarian values still persist in both the urban and rural milieus. Because of the advanced technology, high level of literacy, the develop- ment of mass media and the relatively high aspiration level of all sectors of the population, especially when compared with underdeveloped nations, I believe that although there is still a great deal of poverty in the United States (esti- mates range from thirty to fifty million people), there is relatively little of what I would call the culture of poverty. My rough guess would be that only about 20 percent of the population below the poverty line (between six and ten million people) in the United States have characteristics which would justify classifying their way of life as that of a culture of poverty. Probably the largest sector within this group would consist of very low-income Negroes, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, American Indians and Southern poor whites. The relatively small number of people in the United States with a culture of poverty is a positive factor because it is much more difficult to eliminate the culture of poverty than to eliminate poverty per se. Middle-class people, and this would certainly include mest social scien— tists, tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of the culture of poverty. They tend to associate negative valences to such traits as present-time orienta— tion and concrete versus abstract orientation. I do not intend to idealize or romanticize the culture of poverty. As someone has said, “It is easier to praise poverty than to live in it“; yet some of the positive aspects which may flow from these traits must not be overlooked. Living in the present may develop a capacity for spontaneity and adventure, for the enjoyment of the sensual, the indulgence of impulse, which is often blunted in the middle-class, future- oriented man. Perhaps it is this reality of the moment which the existentialist writers are so desperately trying to recapture but which the culture of poverty experiences as natural, everyday phenomena. The frequent use of violence cer- tainly provides a ready outlet for hostility so that people in the culture of poverty suffer less from repression than does the middle class. In the traditional view, anthropologists have said that culture provides human beings with a design for living, with a ready-made set of solutions for human problems so that individuals don‘t have to begin all over again each generation. That is, the core of culture is its positive adaptive function. I, too, have called attention to some of the adaptive mechanisms in the culture of (n in h. she. com for 1 age I oidl giver brutt dang son lii] INTRODUCTION poverty—for example, the low aspiration level helps to reduce frustration, the legitimization of short—range hedonism makes possible spontaneity and enjoy- ment. However, on the whole it seems to me that it is a relatively thin culture. There is a great deal of pathos, suffering and emptiness among those who live in the culture of poverty. It does not provide much support or long~range satisfaction and its encouragement of mistrust tends to magnify helplessness and isolation. Indeed, the poverty of culture is one of the crucial impacts of the culture of poverty. The concept of the culture of poverty provides a high level of generaliza- tion which, hopefully, will unify and explain a number of phenomena viewed as distinctive characteristics of racial, national or regional groups. For exam~ ple. matrifocality, a high incidence of consensual unions and a high percentage of households headed by women, which have been thought to be distinctive of Caribbean family organization or of Negro family life in the U.S.A.. turn out to be traits of the culture of poverty and are found among diverse peoples in many parts of the world and among peoples who have had no history of slavery. The concept of a cross-societal subculture of poverty enables us to see that many of the problems we think of as distinctively our own or distinctively Negro problems ( or that of any other special racial or ethnic group), also exist in countries where there are no distinct ethnic minority groups. This suggests that the elimination of physical poverty per se may not be enough to eliminate the culture of poverty which is a whole way of life. What is the future of the culture of poverty? In considering this question, one must distinguish between those countries in which it represents a relatively small segment of the population and those in which it constitutes a very large one. Obviously the solutions will differ in these two situations. In the United States, the major solution proposed by planners and social workers in dealing with multiple~problem families and the so-called hard core of poverty has been to attempt slowly to raise their level of living and to incorporate them into the middle class. Wherever possible, there has been some reliance upon psychi— attic treatment. In the underdeveloped countries, however, where great masses of people live in the culture of poverty, a social-work solution does not seem feasible. Because of the magnitude of the problem, psychiatrists can hardly begin to cope with it. They have all they can do to care for their own growing middle class. In these countries the people with a culture of poverty may seek a more revolutionary solution. By creating basic structural changes in society, by re- distributing wealth, by organizing the poor and giving them a sense of belong— ing, of power and of leadership, revolutions frequently succeed in abolishing some of the basic characteristics of the culture of poverty even when they do not succeed in abolishing poverty itself. ll '66 (n in h. she. com for 1 age I oidl giver brutt dang son lii] INTRODUCTION poverty—for example, the low aspiration level helps to reduce frustration, the legitimization of short—range hedonism makes possible spontaneity and enjoy- ment. However, on the whole it seems to me that it is a relatively thin culture. There is a great deal of pathos, suffering and emptiness among those who live in the culture of poverty. It does not provide much support or long~range satisfaction and its encouragement of mistrust tends to magnify helplessness and isolation. Indeed, the poverty of culture is one of the crucial impacts of the culture of poverty. The concept of the culture of poverty provides a high level of generaliza- tion which, hopefully, will unify and explain a number of phenomena viewed as distinctive characteristics of racial, national or regional groups. For exam~ ple. matrifocality, a high incidence of consensual unions and a high percentage of households headed by women, which have been thought to be distinctive of Caribbean family organization or of Negro family life in the U.S.A.. turn out to be traits of the culture of poverty and are found among diverse peoples in many parts of the world and among peoples who have had no history of slavery. The concept of a cross-societal subculture of poverty enables us to see that many of the problems we think of as distinctively our own or distinctively Negro problems ( or that of any other special racial or ethnic group), also exist in countries where there are no distinct ethnic minority groups. This suggests that the elimination of physical poverty per se may not be enough to eliminate the culture of poverty which is a whole way of life. What is the future of the culture of poverty? In considering this question, one must distinguish between those countries in which it represents a relatively small segment of the population and those in which it constitutes a very large one. Obviously the solutions will differ in these two situations. In the United States, the major solution proposed by planners and social workers in dealing with multiple~problem families and the so-called hard core of poverty has been to attempt slowly to raise their level of living and to incorporate them into the middle class. Wherever possible, there has been some reliance upon psychi— attic treatment. In the underdeveloped countries, however, where great masses of people live in the culture of poverty, a social-work solution does not seem feasible. Because of the magnitude of the problem, psychiatrists can hardly begin to cope with it. They have all they can do to care for their own growing middle class. In these countries the people with a culture of poverty may seek a more revolutionary solution. By creating basic structural changes in society, by re- distributing wealth, by organizing the poor and giving them a sense of belong— ing, of power and of leadership, revolutions frequently succeed in abolishing some of the basic characteristics of the culture of poverty even when they do not succeed in abolishing poverty itself. ll '66 ...
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Lewis-TheCultureofPoverty - LA VIDA A Puen‘o Ricuu Family...

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