520-10 The Urban Poor Church and the Culture of Poverty 530

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How do the 70 characteristics in Oscar Lewis' theory on the culture of poverty in La Vida predict the nature of the urban poor church?

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Urban Poor Spirituality: The Urban Poor Church & the Culture of Poverty:

Urban Poor Spirituality: The Urban Poor Church & the Culture of Poverty Reflections by Viv Grigg on Oscar Lewis’ Culture of Poverty and the Slum Church Applications of a theory published in Scientific American, Oct 1966 based on his book “La Vida” Viv Grigg, 2004 Cry of the Urban Poor, chaps 15,16, Authentic

Place in Anthropological Genre:

Place in Anthropological Genre Developed in opposition to Redfield’s “folk” – urban continuum A focus on cultures in the city rather than culture of the city Culture is: Learned from birth, transmitted generationally, an orientation towards life, is collectively shared by a group. Critique: Culture of Poverty is not really a culture as not “transferred over generations”, rather it is an in-between temporary phase (though many slums are 3-6 generations old…). Not all characteristics have been verified

The ‘Culture of Poverty” versus Being Poor:

The ‘Culture of Poverty” versus Being Poor And, it is very controversial because. . . 1. It sounds very deterministic, like people are preconditioned to live like this. 2. It discouraged government and social programs from expecting significant change. 3. It feeds stereotypes---”You can remove people out of the slums, but you can’t remove the slums out of the people. 4. It suggests that “mainstream middle class culture” is the model by which the “culture of poverty” is deemed deficient.

The ‘Culture of Poverty” versus Being Poor:

The ‘Culture of Poverty” versus Being Poor Controversy, continued . . . 5. It is easily identified with racial categorizations, i.e. “all blacks are that way.” 6. It becomes an excuse for blaming strategies and inaction

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture:

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture:

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture:

Urban Consciousness & Slum Church Culture

Church Leadership Styles in Context:

Church Leadership Styles in Context Peasant Societies – Church as village Feudal Lord - Pastor Peasants – Congregation Group (Consensus) Decision Making Cities – Church as corporation CEO – Pastor Individual Decision Making “Slum dwellers are peasants of the city.”

What Do Poor People’s Churches Look Like? (Economic):

What Do Poor People’s Churches Look Like? (Economic) Produce little wealth Unemployment, underemployment Low wages Lack of property Lack of savings Absence of food reserves Chronic shortage of cash Frequent purchases of food at high prices Pawning of personal goods Borrowing at usurious rates Informal credit arrangements Use of secondhand furniture The Nature of the Urban Poor Church Breaking Debt Barriers No More than 6 th Grade education Middleman

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Psychological):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Psychological) Psychological Characteristic Expected Church Culture Live in the present Pervading sense of hopelessness (?) (subsequent studies disprove this theory for migrant communities, but reinforce it for longterm slum communities To show their honor before God Fatalism, helplessness, dependence, inferiority To break their inferiority complex Break the fatalism. To provide the opportunity to be somebody, the roles High incidence of weak ego structure (?) Counselling through their emotional scars Confusion of sexual identification Accountability and good discipling relationships are the key.

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Psychological):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Psychological) Psychological Characteristic Expected Church Culture Present time orientation Little disposition to defer gratification or plan for the future High tolerance for psychological pathology (deviant) Pre-occupation with “machismo”

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Relationship of Subculture to Major Institutions):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Relationship of Subculture to Major Institutions) Culture of Poverty Expected Church Culture Non-integration ?? Disengagement from marriage ?? Hostility to basic institutions Hatred of police Mistrust of Government Cynicism towards established church Potential for political unrest Alternative institutions and procedures

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Relationship of Subculture to Major Institutions):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Relationship of Subculture to Major Institutions)

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Family & Community):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Family & Community) Few legally married (value marriage as morally good, but limits options) Minimal Organization beyond extended family Gregariousness in community Low level of organization (less than peasant village, less than middle class)

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Family & Community cont.):

Characteristics of the Culture of Poverty (Family & Community cont.)

Responses to the Culture of Poverty:

Responses to the Culture of Poverty Formal attitudes towards those in the culture of poverty The “Liberals” say that the COP is a self-perpetuating sub-society, that it is disorganized, pathological and that it must be eliminated and assimilated into the Middle Class through social work, psychiatry and societal transformation

Marxist Response to Culture of Poverty:

Marxist Response to Culture of Poverty The Marxists believe that the COP is an oppressed, sub-society, exploited by the higher class, and that the pathologies have their source in the entire system which is pathological. It is in the interest of the power people to maintain the advantage over the COP. The entire structure of society must be radically changed, and only by revolution. Marx: society-economics-ideas Weber: ideas-societies-economics

Anthropologists Respond to Culture of Poverty theory:

Anthropologists Respond to Culture of Poverty theory The “Functionalists” say that the COP is a part of a heterogeneous society and that it is an adaptive sub-culture. As such it has not only pathological features but also healthy aspects. It expresses itself in different forms from ethnic group to ethnic group depending on its history. We need to increase resources available to the poor, and alter the total social structure. Often the COP influences new social movement or is a barometer of such.

Leadership Development Among the Poor:

Leadership Development Among the Poor The pioneer as equipper The key leader may be spiritually, in character, in terms of recognition by the group, the leader but have to deal with deep debt. Leadership groups make decisions in different style to Western thinking – consensus vs top down, holistic vs linear task oriented.

References:

References Berger, P. L., B. Berger, et al. (1973). The Homeless Mind: Modernization and Consciousness . New York, Random House. Grigg, V. (2004). Cry of the Urban Poor . London, Authentic Press, ch 15,16. ----. (1992). Church of the Poor. Discipling the City: A Comprehensive Approach to Urban Mission . R. Greenway. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker : 159-170. Lewis, O. (1965). La Vida: A Puerto Rican Family in the Culture of Poverty . San Juan and New York:, Vintage Books. --- (1966). ""The Culture of Poverty."." Scientific American 215(4): 3-9. Redfield, R. and M. Singer (1947/1969b). The Folk Society. Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities . NY, Meredith. --- (1954/1969a). The Cultural Role of Cities. Classic Essays on the Culture of Cities . R. Sennett. NY, Meredith.

Spirituality in the Culture of Poverty? Where is God in the midst of the poverty?:

Spirituality in the Culture of Poverty? Where is God in the midst of the poverty? “Every meeting is a divine encounter.” St. Augustine “Every meeting is an exchange of gifts.” St. Augustine