Culture of poverty

Topics: Poverty, African American, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Pages: 2 (722 words) Published: January 18, 2015
The controversial idea of “Culture of Poverty” was featured in the NY Times article by Patricia Cohen on October 17, 2010. The article starts with the historical roots of the debate in the work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who drew on the anthropologist Oscar Lewis in describing a culture of poverty among African-Americans. By “attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies” to African-American people, he placed individual blame for their own misfortune. Originally intended as an internal memorandum providing support for Johnson’s War on Poverty, in his report officially titled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” Moynihan claimed that African-Americas nurtured what he called a “tangle of pathology,” a self-perpetuating, self-defeating cultural flaw responsible for continually high rates of poverty and violent crime. The core reason was the breakdown of the African-American family; specifically the decline of the traditional male-headed household, resulting in a deviant matriarchal family structure. In Moynihan’s conception, this family breakdown was responsible for the failure of African-American males to succeed, both in school and later in jobs, and that this failure was transmitted down generations. Moynihan argued that the origins of this deviant family structure lay in slavery, where the destruction of the nuclear family “broke the will of the Negro people,” particularly African-American males. This sense of powerlessness led to a culture of dependency. Soon after being issued, the report was leaked to the press and immediately became the object of violent controversy. Civil rights leaders saw it as an attempt to blame the African-American community for systemic problems of racial discrimination. The "Moynihan Report" brought about a new understanding about race and poverty: Now terms like pathology, blame the victim, and culture of poverty entered American thought as people debated whether Moynihan was boldly pointing out the causes of...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • poverty is a way of life for the poor that is passed down from generation to generation through the family Essay
  • Culture of Poverty Essay
  • Oscar Lewis Concept of Culture of Poverty Essay
  • Rural poverty Essay
  • Reflective Paper/Generational Poverty
  • Explore the Problems Behind Sexual Deviance, Violence, or Crime and Poverty Essay
  • Essay about culture
  • Essay on Culture of Poverty

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free