Culture of poverty

Sub-culture is the totality of behaviours and values typical of a well-defined group within the society. Poverty is based on specific sub-cultural norms which means that these norms are different from the culture, conditions and relations characteristic to the middle-class. The culture of the poor crosses the borders of the settlements and shows similarities in family structure, relations and consumption habits. It is actually nothing else but the same way of adaptation to similar problems. These people live in the present and do not deal with the past or the future. They feel they cannot do anything to change their fate, that they cannot influence it.


Based on his own experiences gained in community development, and interviews made with European community workers and community developers, Paul Henderson characterises the excluded communities the following way: sense of oppression, poverty and unemployment, high level of conflicts, isolation, extensive crime and fear from crime, limited opportunities, low level of financing and unreliable community services.


However, we should not fall into the trap of depicting a completely negative and depressive picture about the communities affected by social exclusion – according to the ‘math of sorrow’, exclusion, poverty and disadvantaged situation are equal to the loss of communities. All this would be extremely misleading. Community developers and other experts from time to time give clear proof of the flexibility of these communities. There are many interdependent problems and challenges these communities encounter, thus we have to strengthen them. Often enough, however, these communities also have characteristics that even the wealthier, cleaner and more modern vicinities and neighbourhoods could envy, like inventiveness (…), informal networks and social bounds (…), mutual help and assistance (…) and diversity (…). The quality of life of the neighbours is actually very important for the locals, even if the neighbours have to live in excessive social exclusion and with low level of social capital. [1]


[1] Henderson, Paul (2007 (2005)): 24-26. o.

This article based on the following document: Esélyegyenlőségi módszertani útmutató