Poverty from a Sociological Standpoint

Poverty is a complex phenomenon, in which many explicit and implicit factors are involved. It is important to focus on poverty as a phenomenon that individuals themselves tend not to perceive as critical. They treat their state from the position of smoothing negativism, a departure from reality. This approach can be explained from a psychological and sociological point of view. Therefore, the culture of poorness in a given society is the main cause of nationwide poverty.

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Understanding the interpretation of poverty as a phenomenon from a sociological point of view is possible with the help of cognitive dissonance theory. According to this theory, in addition to a financial, moral, physical burden, representatives of the poor population are also experiencing a state of cognitive dissonance (Ciuffetelli and Cheryl 122). In order to reduce it, people change their attitude towards poverty.

They begin to consider it not as injustice and inferiority, but as something temporary. From a socio-economic point of view, the state of poverty as a certain occurrence can be explained with the help of habit theory. According to this theory, habitus is a system of strong acquired predispositions, where structures designed to function as principles that generate and organize practices and ideas (Silva 74). In other words, habitus is a system of assumptions, which produces and constructs the attitude and ideas of a person (Ciuffetelli and Cheryl 126). The basis of habitus is the specificity of social status.

Being a product of objective regularity, habitual poverty tends to generate reasonable and accepted behaviors that are most likely to be positively predisposed towards poorness. The main reason is that people are objectively adapted to the logical characteristic of a particular field of activity, and the objective future of which they anticipate (Ciuffetelli and Cheryl 131). Habitual poverty tends to be consistent and protected from changes when selecting new information by denying the knowledge that can cast doubt on the already accumulated poverty mindset. The homogeneity of the habitus, which is observed within a certain class of living conditions and social environment, determines that the practices and actions are directly understood and predictable and, therefore, are taken for granted.

It can be noted that representatives of the poor social layer form the corresponding habits as a result of their activities in this status. In accordance with this habitus, the whole practice is objectively classified, and a certain set of behavior is produced (Silva 87). In addition, the surrounding objects and facts are classified, various products of the practice are evaluated. Habitus of the poor protects itself from crises and critical attacks, providing itself as much as possible to the environment to which it is already adapted. The main cause is that a relatively constant circle of situations reinforces people’s predispositions by providing the market most suitable social class for its products (Ciuffetelli and Cheryl 135). The most paradoxical quality of a poverty mindset is that the necessary information is evaded and selected.

The given quality of the poverty culture explains why the representatives of the poor shy away from the reflection of their position. It is worth saying that the habituation theory allows to see another hidden aspect, namely the mechanism of reproduction of social inequality (Silva 76). The basis of the culture of poorness is the specificity of social status. Poor people are characterized by a common social position tend to perceive social situations and act in a similar way, since the habitus corresponding to their social position serves as a matrix of action, perception, and thinking.

It is important to note that only one habitus is peculiar to the social position of the poor, which is the poverty habitus. This, in turn, means that the social orientation carried out through it leads to a simultaneous social differentiation. Culture of poverty leads to the fact that individuals experience their position and perceive it as adequate to their time, situation, and life principles (Ciuffetelli and Cheryl 148).

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As a result, they no longer experience emotional experiences and switch to non-poverty pathways and economically brighter events. Thus, the culture of poverty, combined with the cognitive dissonance experienced by the representatives of the poor, causes the presence in the consciousness of two planes, which are real and imaginary (Silva 89). It is clear that imaginary life is a specially constructed reality in which people do not rate themselves in the categories of poverty.

In conclusion, it is clear that some sociological features of the culture of poverty are present in a number of groups. These people do not have a sufficiently high level of education, and they do not consider themselves to be a semi-intellectual social layer.

A person, in essence, remains poor both in his/her consciousness and at the level of life practice. The problem of the culture of poverty is also connected with two planes of the human mindset, which are real and imaginary. In the real plane of consciousness, a person seeks not to reflect on poverty and to avoid alarming information about poorness altogether. Life in an imaginary attitude postpones the need to exit the poor social class. Habits of poor people keep them in a vicious circle of the seemingly inescapable poverty mindset. Therefore, the nationwide poorness is directly caused by poverty attitude of a certain number of citizens.

Works Cited

Ciuffetelli, Darlene P., and Cheryl J. Craig. “An International Inquiry: Stories of Poverty-Poverty Stories.” Urban Education, vol. 52, no. 1, 2017, pp. 120-151.

Silva, Elizabeth B. “Habitus: Beyond Sociology.” The Sociological Review, vol. 64, no. 1, 2016, pp. 73-92.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Poverty from a Sociological Standpoint." May 31, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/poverty-from-a-sociological-standpoint/.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Poverty from a Sociological Standpoint'. 31 May.

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