Poverty as Pathology

Poverty

Photo courtesy of Jukka Kervinen

Poverty as pathology is the theory that the poor are poor because of their own actions or lack thereof. The poor suffer from character flaws, lack of motivation, and potentially even mental disorders. Basically, those who believe in poverty as a pathology blame the poor for their own suffering. Often, those who do not wish to help the poor lean towards this theory as an excuse to say, “I won’t help people that won’t help themselves.” However, experts on poverty and culture have clearly debunked this theory. Jonothan Chait, a well-known American liberal commentator and writer for New York magazine, repeated and supported the idea of African American culture of pathology. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, writing about cultural, social, and political issues, particularly regarding African Americans, responded saying that all the fruits of success are taken away by the one group that claims they do nothing to hinder them: the privileged. These are usually the whites or the elites. These groups take away job opportunities, affordable housing, and many other means of success by buying out jobs and land for their own personal gain. Poverty cannot be the poor’s fault when the elites are keeping them from getting out of it.

For further reading: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/3/culture-of-povertysocialwelfarepaulryanaffluenza.html

Glossary, UD: Theorizing poverty and the American Dream, , , , , ,

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