Oscar Lewis Culture Of Poverty

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When explaining why people in poverty are poor, theories may be individual-focused, stressing personal responsibility, or structure-focused, stressing the forces that lie outside the individual’s control. The statement, “people in poverty are poor because they aren’t working hard enough,” complements the popular beliefs about the poor in the U.S., falling in line with individual-focused theories such as Oscar Lewis’ “culture of poverty” thesis. This explanation regards the idea that poverty is the result of a set of norms and values that is characteristic of the poor (Marger 165). He argues that key features of those in poverty, such as having a present orientation, a lack of values about marriage and education, high usage of alcohol and drugs, frequent use of violence, and a belief in male superiority forms a culture in which the poor perpetuate their own poverty as they do not possess the same values needed to fit in with society’s dominant culture (Marger 166). However, key sociological…show more content…
Marx’s theory of social inequality is heavily based on the idea that power is derived from the ownership of the means of production (Marger 30). Consequently, Marx believed that poverty is the product of the efforts of the powerful ruling class to protect their own interests. Since large corporations are part of the ruling class, they control the major economic activity in communities and therefore have the power to determine the fate of their workers. As a result, the ruling class (the bourgeoisie) will often exploit the working class (the proletariat) or move to a different location that is more economically beneficial to them, in order to stay in line with the capitalist principle of maximizing profit (Marger 169). In this case, people in poverty are poor because the ruling class exploits the working class, making the latter group powerless and trapped in
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