Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Heterogeneous Nature of Urban Poor Families

an article by Rodrigo Salcedo and Alejandra Rasse (Universidad Católica del Maule, República de Chile) published in City & Community Volume 11 Issue 1 (March 2012)


This paper addresses the scholarly debate on cultural homogeneity or heterogeneity of urban poor families. While authors such as Lewis (1959) or Wacquant (2000; 2001) claim that structural disadvantages are linked to a particular type of identity or culture, others such as Hannerz (1969), Anderson (1999; 2002), or Portes (Portes and Manning, 1986; Portes and Jensen, 1989) believe that it is possible to find different behaviors, expectations, decision-making processes, and outcomes among people living in seemingly identical structural conditions (Small et al., 2010).

Using Santiago, Chile, as a case study, we differentiate five different cultures or identities among the poor. Those identities seem to be the product of different historical and political circumstances, as well as of different types of public policies. The paper ends with a discussion of the need for poverty reduction policies to consider these differences among the poor.

Hazel’s comment:
There are those in government in the UK who need to be made aware that “the poor” is not a label for a homegenous mass of people any more than the old or the ill.

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