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❶David Moore, in his book The World Bank , argues that some analysis of poverty reflect pejorative, sometimes racial, stereotypes of impoverished people as powerless victims and passive recipients of aid programs. A New Majority Research Bulletin:

Roots of the Culture of Poverty Concept

The Culture of Classism
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While the social worker understands that none of these three can become the sole site of intervention in hopes that it will automatically produce the others, economic theories of development focus on creating growth of financial capital with the belief that it will catalyze, and lay the foundation for the other two although recent economic models, as will be discussed, recognize coordination of all three will probably produce the strongest benefits.

At this time the UNDP encouraged technical support to low-income countries to further facilitate growth after it was realized that economic contribution alone was not sufficient for human-capital impoverished communities to grow.

International organizations began seeing the north-south economic divide, as well as becoming concerned about long-term impacts of capitalism on the environment. The Bretton Woods institutions expanded their efforts to bottom-up loans, rather than simply state-focused loans. The third state was a revival of classic Smith, as envisioned through Hayek. The Reagan-Thatcher decade of the s was characterized by the beginning of the neoliberal hegemony, where the pendulum swung back to privatization, deregulation and liberalization of trade opening global markets.

At this point the UN Secretary General, Boutros-Gali, asserted that development was a fundamental human right and united the triadic concepts of development, peace, and human security. The Millennium Development Goals evolved into an internationally approved UN roadmap for achieving these three goals.

A more specific review is in order of these eras of development theory. Analyses of European growth after WWII indicated a fairly rapid and linear trajectory of economic growth that was built on a simplistic model of saving and investment. The final stage, 5 is characterized by mass consumption, which drives continued production, technological development, and job growth.

While intuitively attractive to the capitalist worldview and empirically supported at the time, it assumed a linear growth based on the two isolated variables of savings and investment. The Marxist perspective became dominant in the ss as Euro-American sociology began to recognize the contribution of this once-taboo thinker. According to Wallerstein, different regions dominated the global economic system at different times in the previous and current centuries, making the rest of the world dependent on them for inclusion into profitable global markets.

With the capacity to control the market rules, the hegemons were able to control the system, typically with economic sanctions, but failing that, with military force. Multiple levels of dependency were required: Not coincidentally, peripheral states today were typically colonies, now abandoned and in disarray following the politicking of decolonization.

While dependency theory was an important realization—that countries were not necessarily to blame for their own poverty, that a history of exploitation and colonization had put them at extreme disadvantage, the resolutions proposed by Marxists at the time were either anemic, or faulty for example, economic autarky and import substitution programs.

Subsequent models took a much more proactive approach with the goals of alleviating poverty through trade liberalization and freeing the invisible hand of the market. This was the era of neoliberal deregulation and privatization, where the IMF and World Bank returned to state-centered approaches, as well as big-business loans.

The primary strategy was to encourage governments to restructure their economies to financial models based on those of economically successful European and North American states, especially geared to the Hayek vision of smaller government and trade liberalization. The primary assumption was that the economic purpose of government was to create a market-friendly climate and otherwise to make itself scarce. Along with this came assumptions about growth, more complex than the Harrod-Domar model although still including the foundation of savings and investment.

In the case of the former, Solow realized that growth required increases in the sheer numbers of the labor force, such as through population growth, as well as increases in labor quality, in the form of education. Based on the confidence in the new models, as well as the combined policy powerhouses of Reagan U. Unfortunately these programs largely failed and saddled these states with large, unpayable debts. Contemporary models continue to problematize the simplicity of earlier models, typically by adding organizational or cultural factors.

Endogenous Growth Theory Romer, adds the recognition of internal factors for stimulating growth. Previous models assumed exogenous factors were required for sustained development—stimulation or assistance from external sources. Endogenous Growth NGT accepts that knowledge is a public good and acts as capital.

While similar to Solow in accounting for education, Romer does not assume that knowledge is simply a modifying constraint to labor an educated workforce , but acts independently to produce synergistic effects with the other factors. For EGT, human capital development is a primary driver of growth. Another contemporary model recognizes coordination problems as a cause of underdevelopment.

For example, education and saving alone are insufficient for growth without a functioning transportation system, manufacturing industry, financial systems for credit and loans, energy systems to power the system, good governance, and civil peace. What is also recognized is the importance of widespread education. Electrical engineers are of little use without electrical technicians, mathematicians, physicists, and computer professionals. Between these voices lay apparent moderates like Paul Collier.

Each has best-selling books championing a different position on what might seem like a linearity between the opposite poles of Smith and Keynes and their international application. While these issues are typically discussed as if they are recent, the core debate, according to Alacevich , originated in a question between balanced growth and unbalanced growth in the s.

Otherwise market failures result, since low income prevents investment and saving, fundamental components for growth, and without growth, incomes remain low. Efficiency, and thus profitability, increases with economies of scale, which themselves are created with multiple, coordinated investment in specific industry subcomponents.

Conversely, Hirschman proposed that unbalanced growth is the natural, evolutionary process of finding an economic equilibrium for any region. Hirschmann, in contrast, assumed the elements already existed indigenously, but remained latent, and should be discovered by local entrepreneurs.

Like Easterly, he problematizes the usefulness of ex ante foreign aid, and emphasizes its judicious use. Specifically referencing both of these positions, Collier rejects what he calls the optimism of Sachs regarding aid, and the cynicism of Easterly regarding external interventions.

He divides his subsequent analysis into two sections: Four traps keep the bottom billion from achieving economic growth, and four instruments are available for intervention by high-income states. Bhalla describes patterns of income and growth in specific global regions, in a larger effort to analyze the question of economic convergence or divergence due to globalization As expected, per capita income is highest in industrialized countries and has seen continued per capita growth rates: Other regions have benefitted from globalization and have seen even higher growth rates, such as Asia, with 4.

Other regions, however, have seen much slower growth rates, such as Latin America 0. Utilizing such data, Collier focuses his discussion of traps and interventions on the region that remains both impoverished and with negative growth, specifically, sub-Saharan Africa. The concept of poverty traps is repeated frequently in the literature.

Returning to Rosenstein-Rodan, the existence of poverty traps inefficient, or low equilibria are assumed to be the primary cause of localized poverty, and must be resolved through coordination efforts Glavan, But the ontological nature of the traps themselves is not without critics.

Much of the evidence opposed to traps and coordination efforts comes from the econometric evidence, though even within that field, opinions are not convergent. Though economists debate whether traps exist, and whether big pushes have long-term impacts on growth, there is reason for other social scientists to persist in accepting aid and coordination pushes as a meaningful endeavor, as well as important for donors.

First, aid can have many purposes, only one of which is to impact growth. Growth aid is typically for investment in economic infrastructure, whether for profitable business ventures, or macroeconomic restructuring. Less beneficently, some aid is simply given for political favors Clemens, et al. Many of these aid forms would not expect to produce economic growth, nor is it intended to do so.

Therefore calculations that discount the effectiveness of aid should factor in these differences. Moreover, different regions affect calculations of effectiveness. Several other factors have been examined as they influence aid effectiveness. The issue of ex ante aid, or aid that is given on the promise of government restructuring, frequently results in either temporary reforms, then a reversion back to the original, corrupt or autocratic state, or simple noncompliance Collier, a; Easterly, ; Radelet, This pattern has shifted the focus of conditional aid onto ex post aid, or aid that is granted after significant restructuring has been accomplished, and democratic trends have been observed.

Poorly-governed states are limited to project-specific aid, and distribution to specific NGOs or local communities. Just as Asia and Africa respond differently to aid, different economies seem to show different responses to aid. Finally, Bos found that trade liberalization hurts developing economies, since they are not able to compete with economies of scale in the global market.

Different regions seem to have developed different economic coordination mechanisms: Northern Europe has strong industrial coordination, Southeast Asia has strong group and family-based coordination, and Southern Europe including France has strong state-led coordination.

While neoliberal forces are pushing restructuring towards free-market coordinated economies, it is evident that economies based on other coordination schemes can also perform strongly, indicating that forcing Africa into U.

Finally, there are several other specific factors that seem to affect growth that are unrelated to macroeconomic factors. Many of these are considered traps, since they are inherent forces that produce states of low-equilibrium, and match the aforementioned list attributed to Collier Collier, a. Geography, both human and physical, seems to have a profound effect on the ability of a region to produce economic growth.

Collier proposes three types of economies based on physical geography Collier, b: Resource-scare, but coastal regions, seem to do the best in terms of governance and stable growth. They began to follow the Asian pattern of creating coordinated agglomerated markets, and thus had early growth.

However Asia grew faster and edged them out of competition. The regions with the poorest growth, the resource-poor, landlocked states, are completely dependent on their neighbors for survival.

Since they have little access to global markets except through neighboring transportation markets, their growth depends on several factors: A second trap Collier describes is Dutch Disease, named for the decreased growth experienced by the Netherlands after they discovered natural gas. Several features can explain why growth stagnates, if not declines, once a profitable natural resource is discovered.

First, other domestic industries lose value as the economy shoots up due to the newly discovered resource. Those industries may begin to decline since they are not as profitable. Another factor may be conflict that ensues over control of the resource. A third factor is revenue instability due to floating markets. The value of the resource is dependent on global demand.

A fourth factor may be corruption due to attempts to control the resource, and decreased need for public accountability. Some have noted that these factors are all involved in the poor growth associated with aid. A related trap Collier describes is the presence of conflict. Frequently this involves ethnic or resource conflict, so may be initiated by the discovery of a lootable commodity like oil, or diamonds. Not only does conflict itself decrease productivity, but it reduces the inflow of aid, and post-conflict phases are fragile and more likely to return to conflict than states with no history of conflict.

Barbara notes especially that aid to many sub-Saharan African regions cannot be considered neoliberal state building, since the state is so unstable as to make such a venture untenable Barbara, First, market-failures are highly likely, so market-oriented reforms are likely to be useless.

Second, the markets that develop will need protection from external markets since post-conflict states will be little able to compete with economies of scale. Third, international authoritarian approaches may be necessary to help maintain post-conflict peace, minimize corruption, and facilitate state-building see also Collier , who suggests post-conflict military peacekeeping enforcement as an instrument of trap remediation.

While it has already been mentioned that there is inconsistent evidence that government policies have a significant impact on growth, there are certainly other life-quality factors that are affected by poor governance. Moreover, corruption subverts markets, institutions and public trust, thus weakening social structure and civil society.

Angles, et al, propose a novel insight into bad governance and its relationship to the poverty trap. He found that a history of colonialism has an impact on current growth, as well as a strong relationship to poor governance. The relationship they found was robust and linear: One possible mechanism they propose is that the greater the number of colonists, the more destruction to indigenous culture, and the greater the levels of autocratic practice by the colonists. Meredith describes the anti-colonial land reform platform that helped Mugabe attain power in Zimbabwe Meredith, Many of these issues are mentioned above, and represent only minor divergence.

For example, disease-burden is heavily related to geography, since tropical diseases are geographically-based. Diamond describes how geographical factors helped natives to temperate climates Europe and Asia, for example develop immunity to many diseases, due to close spatial relationships to animals that act as hosts to pathogens or attract vectors like mosquitoes.

Similarly, just as Collier mentions being landlocked, so does Sachs, which is related to other factors Sachs mentions, like high transportation costs, small market size, and slow diffusion of technology—especially as these relate to the landlocked, resource-poor countries. Sanchez, et al describe each of these traps, along with others not mentioned by Sachs and Collier hunger, rapid population growth, and environmental degradation as mutually-reinforcing factors Sanchez, et al.

Taken in isolation, any of these would be harmful for any economy, but likely not devastating. When multiple factors accumulate, they not only cause increasing social and economic problems, but make other poverty traps more likely.

The recognition of the multiplicity, and interrelatedness of factors leading to poverty helps provide a theoretical foundation for the big pushes, regardless of econometric questions related to effectiveness of aid in stimulating growth. As mentioned earlier, there are several purposes of aid—humanitarian disaster relief, relief of chronic poverty, motivation for political correctives, development of human and social capital, and aid intended for economic growth.

Returning to Collier, he proposes four instruments for poverty remediation. First, Collier affirms the development aid dogma that aid is crucial if low-income states are to become stable and sustainable. However, he urges that we listen to the data and provide aid where it seems to be most effective. Along with limits on aid, revisions in processes for aid deliverance are important.

Since aid itself can act as a resource curse, making conflict more likely, military intervention may be especially necessary in situations where large amounts of aid or natural resources are present. Given that conflict increases many of the aforementioned poverty traps hunger, disease, increased transaction costs, decreased social and human capital, etc , resolving genocidal conflict, even if by external military intervention, seems to be an appropriate, if not critical component to stabilizing low-income states.

The third proposal Collier makes is a series of international charters and laws that will support developing economies. Other specific suggestions are charters that promote democracy, budget transparency and conflict resolution in sub-Saharan African states. Peacebuilding teams can facilitate post-conflict situations, as can experiences of truth and reconciliation groups.

Post-conflict states need protection from open-market processes on the one hand, since they lack most competitive advantages of peaceful states Barbara, Specifically, such low-income African regions need protection from Asian markets.

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act represents an effective attempt to grant trade privileges to sub-Saharan states. Arguably the largest interventions in global poverty are the Millennium Development Goals. I observed powerful moments of teaching and learning, caring and support. And I witnessed moments of internal conflict in Janet, when what she wanted to believe about her students collided with her prejudices.

Like most educators, Janet is determined to create an environment in which each student reaches his or her full potential.

And like many of us, despite overflowing with good intentions, Janet has bought into the most common and dangerous myths about poverty. Chief among these is the "culture of poverty" myth—the idea that poor people share more or less monolithic and predictable beliefs, values, and behaviors.

For educators like Janet to be the best teachers they can be for all students, they need to challenge this myth and reach a deeper understanding of class and poverty.

Oscar Lewis coined the term culture of poverty in his book The Children of Sanchez. Lewis based his thesis on his ethnographic studies of small Mexican communities. His studies uncovered approximately 50 attributes shared within these communities: Despite studying very small communities, Lewis extrapolated his findings to suggest a universal culture of poverty.

More than 45 years later, the premise of the culture of poverty paradigm remains the same: Lewis ignited a debate about the nature of poverty that continues today. But just as important—especially in the age of data-driven decision making—he inspired a flood of research. These studies raise a variety of questions and come to a variety of conclusions about poverty. But on this they all agree: There is no such thing as a culture of poverty. Differences in values and behaviors among poor people are just as great as those between poor and wealthy people.

In actuality, the culture of poverty concept is constructed from a collection of smaller stereotypes which, however false, seem to have crept into mainstream thinking as unquestioned fact.

Let's look at some examples. Although poor people are often stereotyped as lazy, 83 percent of children from low-income families have at least one employed parent; close to 60 percent have at least one parent who works full-time and year-round National Center for Children in Poverty, In fact, the severe shortage of living-wage jobs means that many poor adults must work two, three, or four jobs. According to the Economic Policy Institute , poor working adults spend more hours working each week than their wealthier counterparts.

Poor parents are uninvolved in their children's learning, largely because they do not value education. Low-income parents are less likely to attend school functions or volunteer in their children's classrooms National Center for Education Statistics, —not because they care less about education, but because they have less access to school involvement than their wealthier peers. They are more likely to work multiple jobs, to work evenings, to have jobs without paid leave, and to be unable to afford child care and public transportation.

It might be said more accurately that schools that fail to take these considerations into account do not value the involvement of poor families as much as they value the involvement of other families. What often are assumed to be deficient varieties of English—Appalachian varieties, perhaps, or what some refer to as Black English Vernacular—are no less sophisticated than so-called "standard English.

Poor people are no more likely than their wealthier counterparts to abuse alcohol or drugs. Chen, Sheth, Krejci, and Wallace found that alcohol consumption is significantly higher among upper middle class white high school students than among poor black high school students.

In other words, considering alcohol and illicit drugs together, wealthy people are more likely than poor people to be substance abusers. The myth of a "culture of poverty" distracts us from a dangerous culture that does exist—the culture of classism. This culture continues to harden in our schools today. It leads the most well intentioned of us, like my friend Janet, into low expectations for low-income students.

It makes teachers fear their most powerless pupils. And, worst of all, it diverts attention from what people in poverty do have in common: The most destructive tool of the culture of classism is deficit theory. In education, we often talk about the deficit perspective—defining students by their weaknesses rather than their strengths.

Deficit theory takes this attitude a step further, suggesting that poor people are poor because of their own moral and intellectual deficiencies Collins, Deficit theorists use two strategies for propagating this world view: The implications of deficit theory reach far beyond individual bias. If we convince ourselves that poverty results not from gross inequities in which we might be complicit but from poor people's own deficiencies, we are much less likely to support authentic antipoverty policy and programs.

Further, if we believe, however wrongly, that poor people don't value education, then we dodge any responsibility to redress the gross education inequities with which they contend. This application of deficit theory establishes the idea of what Gans calls the undeserving poor —a segment of our society that simply does not deserve a fair shake.

If the goal of deficit theory is to justify a system that privileges economically advantaged students at the expense of working-class and poor students, then it appears to be working marvelously. In our determination to "fix" the mythical culture of poor students, we ignore the ways in which our society cheats them out of opportunities that their wealthier peers take for granted.

We ignore the fact that poor people suffer disproportionately the effects of nearly every major social ill. They lack access to health care, living-wage jobs, safe and affordable housing, clean air and water, and so on Books, —conditions that limit their abilities to achieve to their full potential. Perhaps most of us, as educators, feel powerless to address these bigger issues.

But the question is this: Are we willing, at the very least, to tackle the classism in our own schools and classrooms? This classism is plentiful and well documented Kozol, For example, compared with their wealthier peers, poor students are more likely to attend schools that have less funding Carey, ; lower teacher salaries Karoly, ; more limited computer and Internet access Gorski, ; larger class sizes; higher student-to-teacher ratios; a less-rigorous curriculum; and fewer experienced teachers Barton, The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future also found that low-income schools were more likely to suffer from cockroach or rat infestation, dirty or inoperative student bathrooms, large numbers of teacher vacancies and substitute teachers, more teachers who are not licensed in their subject areas, insufficient or outdated classroom materials, and inadequate or nonexistent learning facilities, such as science labs.

Here in Minnesota, several school districts offer universal half-day kindergarten but allow those families that can afford to do so to pay for full-day services.

Our poor students scarcely make it out of early childhood without paying the price for our culture of classism. Deficit theory requires us to ignore these inequities—or worse, to see them as normal and justified.

What does this mean? Regardless of how much students in poverty value education, they must overcome tremendous inequities to learn. Perhaps the greatest myth of all is the one that dubs education the "great equalizer.

The socioeconomic opportunity gap can be eliminated only when we stop trying to "fix" poor students and start addressing the ways in which our schools perpetuate classism. This includes destroying the inequities listed above as well as abolishing such practices as tracking and ability grouping, segregational redistricting, and the privatization of public schools.

We must demand the best possible education for all students—higher-order pedagogies, innovative learning materials, and holistic teaching and learning. But first, we must demand basic human rights for all people: Of course, we ought not tell students who suffer today that, if they can wait for this education revolution, everything will fall into place.

So as we prepare ourselves for bigger changes, we must Educate ourselves about class and poverty. Reject deficit theory and help students and colleagues unlearn misperceptions about poverty. Make school involvement accessible to all families.

Follow Janet's lead, inviting colleagues to observe our teaching for signs of class bias. Continue reaching out to low-income families even when they appear unresponsive and without assuming, if they are unresponsive, that we know why.

Respond when colleagues stereotype poor students or parents. Never assume that all students have equitable access to such learning resources as computers and the Internet, and never assign work requiring this access without providing in-school time to complete it.

Ensure that learning materials do not stereotype poor people. Fight to keep low-income students from being assigned unjustly to special education or low academic tracks. Make curriculum relevant to poor students, drawing on and validating their experiences and intelligences. Teach about issues related to class and poverty—including consumer culture, the dissolution of labor unions, and environmental injustice—and about movements for class equity.

Teach about the antipoverty work of Martin Luther King Jr. Fight to ensure that school meal programs offer healthy options. Examine proposed corporate-school partnerships, rejecting those that require the adoption of specific curriculums or pedagogies.

Most important, we must consider how our own class biases affect our interactions with and expectations of our students. And then we must ask ourselves, Where, in reality, does the deficit lie? Does it lie in poor people, the most disenfranchised people among us?

Does it lie in the education system itself—in, as Jonathan Kozol says, the savage inequalities of our schools?

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