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Using information from the items and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of 'individualistic' theories of the causes of poverty.

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Introduction

Using information from the Items and elsewhere, assess the usefulness of 'individualistic' theories of the causes of poverty. An individualistic (cultural) perspective suggests that poverty comes as a result of behaviour and lifestyle more likely to result in poverty. This perspective is often referred to as 'victim-blaming'. They are said to be 'work shy', preferring instead to live on state welfare benefits. This explanation of poverty argues that the poor' subculture may be so pervasive that these deviant attitudes are reproduced from one generation to another by parents who act as 'deviant role-models' to their children. In this way the poor are said to be a part of a subculture, which is somewhat antagonistic to the mainstream culture of society. The main groups considered to be leading these impoverished subcultures are the disabled, women, ethnic groups, elderly, working class and people from northern regions. The minority of disabled have: - -An inability to work which -Limitations on physical and/or mental abilities. ...read more.

Middle

Arguments directly against Lewis's study come from the anthropologist, Mangrins (1968), who researched slums in Peru and found the poor were far from apathetic or resigned and also had remarkable organising powers. Coates and Silburn (1970) studied a slum in Nottingham called St Annes. They did find helpless poor but they argued this was a consequence (see later explanations) and not a cause. Rutter and Madge (1977) suggested there was "little documentation of my communities in this country which might correspond with the descriptions of a culture of poverty given by Lewis. Interestingly, Rutter and Madge did a separate study arguing there is a 'Cycle of deprivation'. A Situational perspective argues directly against this suggesting that poverty is due to a through no fault of their own but argue there are many social, economic and environmental factors which prevent poor from improving their position. It argues that behaviour is a reaction to this social situation but not a cause. ...read more.

Conclusion

Finally 'Dependency Culture' is a New Right idea, which is slightly similar to the individualistic theories stating poor are lazy and fatalistic but it goes further into the issue and suggests (like other theories) a reason. The reason being that people are poor because of their dependency on the state and that they are caught in a 'dependency trap' instead of just having 'foolish' behaviour. Marsland (1989) believes people are happier collecting money from benefits rather than working for similar amounts. He suggests that state provisions should be given to the needy poor instead of the idle. Murray (1990) USA and Anderson (1990) UK argue a new underclass is emerging due to welfare benefits Individualistic theories (like most of the earliest theories), is rather simple. Indeed, it may be true that some, possibly the majority of those in poverty, have apathetical behaviours, but whether it answers the causes of poverty is questionable. The problem with this theory is that it does not give reasons for these lifestyles but rather looks at the direct causes of poverty. ...read more.

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