The Stigma of Poverty
To be poor [Video, 3:54 mins] is to be stigmatized. The United States in built on the culture of the American dream. This argues that anyone can succeed if they work hard enough. The flip side to this is the belief that lack of success comes from lack of working hard. This leads to the belief that the poor deserve to be poor because they aren’t willing to work hard. This notion of the “undeserving poor” leads to individual explanations for poverty rather than structural explanations. One explanation is the Culture of Poverty theory. This theory suggests that poor communities are separated from the dominant culture. This separation leads to the development of an independent culture. This culture is fatalistic and poverty is accepted as a way of life that cannot change. This means that the motivation to change is diminished. This theory is controversial because it puts the responsibility of poverty on the impoverished. It ignores the role that lack of access to opportunity plays in perpetuating poverty. In reality, poverty cannot be fully explained without incorporating structural and individual explanations. Structural theories explain the social institutions that encourage and maintain poverty while individual theories can explain the experiences of individuals within that structural landscape.
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