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A Discourse on Poverty It is the common misconception that poverty is the fault of individuals as we can see by the passing of various new laws and acts for example the 1996 welfare reform act But it is the imperfection of our social structure that is to blame These flaws allow the perpetuation of poverty This unending cycle is a stark contrast to the American ideal that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in our society A debate that illustrates this argument is centered on a concept known as the culture of poverty Lewis 1965 The question then becomes what is the culture of poverty The term culture of poverty is from the work of Oscar Lewis Lewis as well as others argue that there are certain cultural characteristics among the poor in industrial capitalist societies Furthermore Lewis and others agree that poor people in such societies display characteristics and values that are not held by the non-poor in those same societies These characteristics 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 relatively high incidents of abandonment of wives and children a tend toward female or mother-centered families a strong predisposition toward 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 Lewis 1965 These characteristics are predominant among the poor because they allow the poor to adapt to their environment This acculturation however makes the escape from poverty all the more difficult Therefore the effect of this cycle is that it is passed from generation to generation thus keeping the poor people poor As long as the poor retain their culture of poverty they will remain poor It can be said that this argument sounds as though the poor are responsible for their
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