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Reconsidering Culture and Poverty

Reconsidering Culture and Poverty

First Edition
Edited by:

228 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Culture has returned to the poverty research agenda.

Over the past decade, sociologists, demographers, and even economists have begun asking questions about the role of cul­ture in many aspects of poverty, at times even explaining the behavior of low-income populations in reference to cultural factors. Unlike their predecessors, contemporary researchers rarely claim that culture will sustain itself for multiple generations regardless of structural changes, and they almost never use the term "pathology," which implied in an earlier era that people would cease to be poor if they changed their culture. The new generation of scholars conceives of culture in substantially different ways.

In this latest issue of the ANNALS, readers are treated to thought-provoking articles that attempt to bridge the gap between poverty and culture scholarship, highlighting new trends in poverty research.

The authors identi­fy the scholarly and policy-related basis for why poverty researchers should be deeply concerned with culture, noting the importance of understanding better how people cope with poverty and how they escape it. They then tackle the perplexing question—what is "culture"?—and propose that sociologists and anthropologists studying culture have developed at least seven different analytical tools for cap­turing meaning that could help answer a number of questions central to the study of poverty, including those centered on marriage, educa­tion, neighborhoods, and community participation, among others. While not denying the importance of macro-structural conditions—such as the concentration of wealth and income, the spatial segregation across classes and racial groups, or the persistent international migration of labor and capital—they argue that human action is both constrained and enabled by the meaning people give to their actions and that these dynamics should become central to our understanding of the production and reproduction of poverty and social inequality.

By considering poverty in the United States and abroad, examining both the elite, policy-making level and the daily lives of low-income people themselves, the articles convey a composite and multileveled picture of the ways in which meaning-making factors into the production and reproduction of poverty. The volume aims to demonstrate the importance of cultural concepts for poverty research, serve as a model and a resource for poverty scholars who wish to incorporate cultural concepts into their research, assist in the training of future scholars working at the nexus of poverty and culture, and identify crucial areas for future methodological, theoretical, and empirical development. The volume also serves to debunk existing myths about the cultural orientations of the poor for those formulating policy; as the editors point out, "ignoring culture can lead to bad policy."

This volume is vital reading, not only for sociologists but also for researchers across the social sciences as a whole.

Mario Luis Small, David J. Harding, and Michèle Lamont
Reconsidering Culture and Poverty
Culture and the Experience of Poverty
Sandra Susan Smith
A Test of Sincerity: How Black and Latino Service Workers Make Decisions about Making Referrals
Alford A. Young Jr.
New Life for an Old Concept: Frame Analysis and the Reinvigoration of Studies in Culture and Poverty
Stephen Vaisey
What People Want: Rethinking Poverty, Culture, and Educational Attainment
Maureen R. Waller
Viewing Low-Income Fathers’ Ties to Families through a Cultural Lens: Insights for Research and Policy
Nathan Edward Fosse
The Repertoire of Infidelity among Low-Income Men: Doubt, Duty, and Destiny
Culture and Poverty Policy
Vijayendra Rao and Paromita Sanyal
Dignity through Discourse: Poverty and the Culture of Deliberation in Indian Village Democracies
Joshua Guetzkow
Beyond Deservingness: Congressional Discourse on Poverty, 1964-1996
Reflections on Culture and Poverty
William Julius Wilson
Why Both Social Structure and Culture Matter in a Holistic Analysis of Inner-City Poverty
Lynn Woolsey
Culture, Poverty, and Effective Social Policy
Raúl M. Grijalva
From Culture of Poverty to Lasting Stability and Security

Great read and easy to understand concepts. Great for students!

Dr Daniel Hodge
Sociology Global Studies Dept, Azusa Pacific University
September 21, 2010

David Harding

Michele Lamont

Michèle Lamont is Professor of Sociology, Professor of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. Her work has included comparative studies of stigma across different countries, the inner workings of culture and inequality and social change. She has written on areas such as, the ways in which the meanings applied to worth and moral worth shape ethno-racial and class inequality. She has explored the definitions and implications of ‘excellence’ on society and in higher education. Michèle co-chairs the advisory board to the 2021-22 UN Human Development Report, ... More About Author

Mario Luis Small