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RE: [xmca] return of culture of poverty

The script, in the American version of capitalism, centers around the right to aspire to unlimited wealth through any means that can be justified as lawful. In the script such accumulation of wealth is deemed an inherent good, regardless of any independent analysis of the value received by the society. Of course, the easiest and most direct route to wealth is through influence on the governments which set the laws that determine what is lawful commerce. Hence our free-market legislatures are one of the truly thriving growth industry in the U.S. But government still has to be at least somewhat responsive to the public. So along with purchasing legislators, business interests now deliver the electorate to them through 'citizens movements' that are researched, set up, and funded by business interests. The entrée for such public influence is the normal tension that exist in any society between more conservative and more progressive communities. By exacerbating these natural differences, business interests are able to marshal support from a sizable proportion of the public that is only too happy to cede power over economic and financial policy to those who promise moral (i.e., traditional) social practices. It's enough to make one want to give up on progressive social causes to wrest back control of economic structures.

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Joseph Gilbert
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2010 1:27 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] return of culture of poverty

Re: culture and poverty;
In Order for the possiblity of poverty to exist, it must first exist,  
as a potential, in the culture. Culture supports only that which is  
included in the script. Within cultures, there is a range of possible  
ways of being, these possibchasmslities depending upon what  
circumstances that the culture is reacting to. Culture is like  
software: Once it is installed, it determines what conclusions are  
arrived at. In order for us to accept the notion that poverty is par  
for the course, that it will always be with us, that concept must be  
included within the script that is culture.  In order for there to be  
a world with no poverty and a far greater chance of prosperity, we  
must create a script in which the great disparities in wealth that  
exist now, are not possible. Great chasms between the material wealth  
of one person and another does not foster peace and prosperity and in  
fact creates poverty by demoralizing the people. We naturally want to  
share freely with others and a cultural script that allows our doing  
so would be very helpful.

		Joseph Gilbert

On Nov 9, 2010, at 3:23 AM, Bruce Robinson wrote:

> We Brits are now seeing this sort of ideas being pushed as a  
> rationale for dismantling the welfare state, introducing workfare,  
> and stigmatising the unemployed and sick. We are told work, whether  
> compulsory or voluntary, is a solution for those on benefits long  
> term, even when few jobs exist and the cuts mean there'll be even  
> fewer. They are to blame because they supposedly have no motivation  
> to change unless pushed to the starvation line. The US is being  
> used as a more or less conscious model for these changes.
> Bruce R
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "mike cole" <lchcmike@gmail.com>
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2010 1:24 AM
> Subject: [xmca] return of culture of poverty
> This topic is, indeed, coming back in a big way.
> mike
> October 17, 2010
> 'Culture of Poverty' Makes a Comeback By PATRICIA
> COHEN<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/ 
> patricia_cohen/index.html?inline=nyt-per>
> For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of
> poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord  
> Voldemort: That
> Which Must Not Be Named.
> The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after  
> Daniel
> Patrick Moynihan<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/ 
> timestopics/people/m/daniel_patrick_moynihan/index.html?inline=nyt- 
> per>,
> then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration,  
> introduced
> the idea of a "culture of poverty" to the public in a startling 1965
> report<http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/webid-meynihan.htm>.
> Although Moynihan didn't coin the phrase (that distinction belongs  
> to the
> anthropologist Oscar Lewis <http://www.blacksacademy.net/content/ 
> 3253.html>),
> his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable
> "tangle of pathology" of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency  
> was seen
> as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black  
> people, as if
> blaming them for their own misfortune.
> Moynihan's analysis never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers,  
> whose
> arguments ultimately succeeded when President Bill
> Clinton<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/ 
> c/bill_clinton/index.html?inline=nyt-per>signed
> a bill in 1996 "ending welfare as we know it." But in the
> overwhelmingly liberal ranks of academic sociology and anthropology  
> the word
> "culture" became a live grenade, and the idea that attitudes and  
> behavior
> patterns kept people poor was shunned.
> Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly  
> about
> you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are  
> enmeshed.
> "We've finally reached the stage where people aren't afraid of being
> politically incorrect," said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at  
> Princeton
> who has argued <http://ann.sagepub.com/content/621/1.toc> that  
> Moynihan was
> unfairly maligned.
> The old debate has shaped the new. Last month Princeton and the  
> Brookings
> Institution<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/ 
> organizations/b/brookings_institution/index.html?inline=nyt- 
> org>released
> a collection
> of papers<http://futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/ 
> journals/journal_details/index.xml?journalid=73>on
> unmarried parents, a subject, it noted, that became off-limits after
> the
> Moynihan report. At the recent annual meeting of the American  
> Sociological
> Association, attendees discussed the resurgence of scholarship on  
> culture.
> And in Washington last spring, social scientists participated in a
> Congressional
> briefing<http://www.aapss.org/news/2010/06/18/reconsidering-culture- 
> and-poverty-a-congressional-briefing>on
> culture and poverty linked to a special issue
> of The Annals <http://ann.sagepub.com/content/629/1/6.full.pdf 
> +html>, the
> journal of the American Academy of Political and Social
> Science<http://www.aapss.org/>.
> "Culture is back on the poverty research agenda," the introduction  
> declares,
> acknowledging that it should never have been removed.
> The topic has generated interest on Capitol Hill because so much of  
> the
> research intersects with policy debates. Views of the cultural  
> roots of
> poverty "play important roles in shaping how lawmakers choose to  
> address
> poverty issues," Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of  
> California, noted
> at the briefing.
> This surge of academic research also comes as the percentage of  
> Americans
> living in poverty<http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/us/ 
> 17poverty.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=eric%20eckholm%20poverty&st=cse>hit
> a 15-year high: one in seven, or 44 million.
> With these studies come many new and varied definitions of culture,  
> but they
> all differ from the '60s-era model in these crucial respects:  
> Today, social
> scientists are rejecting the notion of a monolithic and unchanging  
> culture
> of poverty. And they attribute destructive attitudes and behavior  
> not to
> inherent moral character but to sustained racism and isolation.
> To Robert J. Sampson, a sociologist at
> Harvard<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/ 
> organizations/h/harvard_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org>,
> culture is best understood as "shared understandings."
> "I study inequality, and the dominant focus is on structures of  
> poverty," he
> said. But he added that the reason a neighborhood turns into a  
> "poverty
> trap" is also related to a common perception of the way people in a
> community act and think. When people see graffiti and garbage, do  
> they find
> it acceptable or see serious disorder? Do they respect the legal  
> system or
> have a high level of "moral cynicism," believing that "laws were  
> made to be
> broken"?
> As part of a large research project in Chicago, Professor Sampson  
> walked
> through different neighborhoods this summer, dropping stamped,  
> addressed
> envelopes to see how many people would pick up an apparently lost  
> letter and
> mail it, a sign that looking out for others is part of the community's
> culture.
> In some neighborhoods, like Grand Boulevard, where the notorious  
> Robert
> Taylor public housing projects once stood, almost no envelopes were  
> mailed;
> in others researchers received more than half of the letters back.  
> Income
> levels did not necessarily explain the difference, Professor  
> Sampson said,
> but rather the community's cultural norms, the levels of moral  
> cynicism and
> disorder.
> The shared perception of a neighborhood - is it on the rise or  
> stagnant? -
> does a better job of predicting a community's future than the  
> actual level
> of poverty, he said.
> William Julius Wilson<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/ 
> timestopics/people/w/william_julius_wilson/index.html?inline=nyt-per>,
> whose pioneering work boldly confronted ghetto life while focusing on
> economic explanations for persistent poverty, defines culture as  
> the way
> "individuals in a community develop an understanding of how the  
> world works
> and make decisions based on that understanding."
> For some young black men, Professor Wilson, a Harvard sociologist,  
> said, the
> world works like this: "If you don't develop a tough demeanor, you  
> won't
> survive. If you have access to weapons, you get them, and if you  
> get into a
> fight, you have to use them."
> Seeking to recapture the topic from economists, sociologists have  
> ventured
> into poor neighborhoods to delve deeper into the attitudes of  
> residents.
> Their results have challenged some common assumptions, like the  
> belief that
> poor mothers remain single because they don't value marriage.
> In Philadelphia, for example, low-income mothers told the sociologists
> Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas that they thought marriage was  
> profoundly
> important, even sacred, but doubted that their partners were "marriage
> material." Their results have prompted some lawmakers and poverty  
> experts to
> conclude that programs that promote marriage without changing  
> economic and
> social conditions are unlikely to work.
> Mario Luis Small, a sociologist at the University of
> Chicago<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/ 
> organizations/u/university_of_chicago/index.html?inline=nyt-org>and
> an editor of The Annals' special issue, tried to figure out why some
> New
> York City mothers with children in day care developed networks of  
> support
> while others did not. As he explained in his 2009 book, "Unanticipated
> Gains," <http://home.uchicago.edu/%7Emariosmall/documents/ 
> UG_Chapter1.pdf>the
> answer did not depend on income or ethnicity, but rather the rules of
> the day-care institution. Centers that held frequent field trips,  
> organized
> parents' associations and had pick-up and drop-off procedures  
> created more
> opportunities for parents to connect.
> Younger academics like Professor Small, 35, attributed the upswing in
> cultural explanations to a "new generation of scholars without the  
> baggage
> of that debate."
> Scholars like Professor Wilson, 74, who have tilled the field much  
> longer,
> mentioned the development of more sophisticated data and analytical  
> tools.
> He said he felt compelled to look more closely at culture after the
> publication of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein's  
> controversial 1994
> book, "The Bell Curve," which attributed African-Americans' lower I.Q.
> scores to genetics.
> The authors claimed to have taken family background into account,  
> Professor
> Wilson said, but "they had not captured the cumulative effects of  
> living in
> poor, racially segregated neighborhoods."
> He added, "I realized we needed a comprehensive measure of the  
> environment,
> that we must consider structural *and* cultural forces."
> He mentioned a study by Professor Sampson, 54, that found that  
> growing up in
> areas where violence limits socializing outside the family and  
> where parents
> haven't attended college stunts verbal ability, lowering I.Q.  
> scores by as
> much as six points, the equivalent of missing more than a year in  
> school.
> Changes outside campuses have made conversation about the cultural  
> roots of
> poverty easier than it was in the '60s. Divorce, living together  
> without
> marrying, and single motherhood are now commonplace. At the same time
> prominent African-Americans have begun to speak out on the subject.  
> In 2004
> the comedian Bill
> Cosby<http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/ 
> billcosbypoundcakespeech.htm>made
> headlines when he criticized poor blacks for "not parenting" and
> dropping out of school. President
> Obama<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/ 
> barack_obama/index.html?inline=nyt-per>,
> who was abandoned by his father, has repeatedly talked about  
> "responsible
> fatherhood."
> Conservatives also deserve credit, said Kay S. Hymowitz, a fellow  
> at the
> conservative Manhattan Institute, for their sustained focus on  
> family values
> and marriage even when cultural explanations were disparaged.
> Still, worries about blaming the victim persist. Policy makers and the
> public still tend to view poverty through one of two competing  
> lenses, Michèle
> Lamont <http://www2.cifar.ca/research/successful-societies-program/>,
> another editor of the special issue of The Annals, said: "Are the  
> poor poor
> because they are lazy, or are the poor poor because they are a  
> victim of the
> markets?"
> So even now some sociologists avoid words like "values" and  
> "morals" or
> reject the idea that, as The Annals put it, "a group's culture is  
> more or
> less coherent." Watered-down definitions of culture, Ms. Hymowitz
> complained, reduce some of the new work to "sociological pablum."
> "If anthropologists had come away from doing field work in New Guinea
> concluding 'everyone's different,' but sometimes people help each  
> other
> out," she wrote in an e-mail, "there would be no field of  
> anthropology - and
> no word culture for cultural sociologists to bend to their will."
> Fuzzy definitions or not, culture is back. This prompted mock  
> surprise from
> Rep. Woolsey at last spring's Congressional briefing: "What a concept.
> Values, norms, beliefs play very important roles in the way people  
> meet the
> challenges of poverty."
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