A PHS 795 student links to a thoughtful piece by Paul Gorski challenging the concept that there is a “culture of poverty.” As we know from class, poverty is a powerful predictor of health outcomes — one that goes beyond simple correlation, with plausible physiological mechanisms drawing causal links. We also know that culture is a powerful influence on behavior and can serve as a positive or negative catalyst for change. But does poverty create its own culture? Our student writes:
This was an interesting write by Paul Gorski who basically debunks myths associates with the idea of “culture of poverty”; a term coined by Oscar Lewis. This gives the perception that children who grow up in poor families, become accustomed to the values and norms that perpetuate poverty. Also the idea that all poor people some how share the same mentality and circumstances. He addresses what he thinks to be behind the achievement gap that is between high and low income students. The term he used to describe this is culture of classism.