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Poverty: A New Perspective

George L. Wilber Editor
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this collection of essays poverty is viewed not merely as an economic predicament but as a "system with measurable properties," of which a low income level is only one. Affecting individuals or entire regions, many of the attributes of poverty can be seen either as causes or as effects of low income.

    In order for governmental and institutional attempts to have any chance of success, the system of poverty must be much better understood. Working programs directed at particular problems of the poor are examined and assessed with an account of the findings of recent research that shows how these programs could be improved.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6508-0
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    G. L. Wilber
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    George L. Wilber

    Why is it that the burdens of poverty must be carried by millions of people in the United States? In the richest, best-educated, most technologically advanced nation in the world—capable of putting men on the moon—little progress has been made toward solving poverty problems. Throughout human history there have always been poor people, and it may be that there is no way in which poverty can be totally eliminated. On the other hand, there is a deep concern over poverty among many who believe that poverty can be drastically reduced. Is it that we do not know enough...

  5. 2 Determinants of Poverty
    (pp. 5-23)
    George L. Wilber

    Poverty and poverty-related problems plague all modern societies. In recent years a number of expressions have become part of our common jargon—war on poverty, the welfare poor, the medically indigent, ghettos, and so on. Poverty itself is typically regarded as a lack of income, which in turn is related to poor housing, inadequate education, insufficient medical care, excessive fertility, unemployment, and many other depressing problems. Some areas, such as Appalachia, appear as massive concentrations of poverty. According to the Social Security Administration’s definition of poverty, the number of poor persons in the United States declined through the 1960s. However,...

  6. 3 Poverty Measures as Indicators of Social Welfare
    (pp. 24-51)
    J. Patrick Madden

    In 1960 nearly one in every four persons was poor, compared with one in eight in 1970. The absolute number of poor persons, 40 million in 1960, declined each year until 1969, which had the lowest number of poor persons ever reported in recent history—24.1 million. The biggest reductions occurred during the rapid economic expansion of the mid-1960s, as unemployment dropped from more than 6 percent to less than 4 percent (Figure 3.1). Then in 1970, as the economy slid into a recession, unemployment increased from 3.5 to 4.9 percent and the downward trend in the number of poor...

  7. 4 Migration and Poverty
    (pp. 52-70)
    Thomas R. Panko

    For centuries, migration has been a major means by which people seek solutions to their problems; the mass movement of peoples from economically depressed areas to areas that hold greater promise is legendary. Politically or religiously oppressed peoples—refugees and displaced persons—have fled to escape their oppressors.

    In the United States, the well-known movements to the West and to the cities have predominated historically and are still much in evidence today. Millions of Americans, for example, have moved from the old plantation South and from Appalachia in search of better opportunities. The mass movement from the South to northern...

  8. 5 Social Services for Migrants
    (pp. 71-84)
    Thomas R. Panko

    A basic freedom in this country is the ability of any person to move whenever, wherever, and as often as he chooses. That we are indeed a highly mobile nation is evidenced by the fact that each year one in every five persons changes his place of residence. Mobility, however, entails much more than the movement of people from one location to another. As indicated in chapter 4, these changes in the population can, and often do, affect the social organization and value systems of communities, political and educational systems, occupational markets, family structure, and city planning.

    Yet, despite the...

  9. 6 Appalachian Fertility
    (pp. 85-97)
    George L. Wilber

    High rates of fertility have prevailed for centuries among economically depressed peoples. The fear of the economic effects of excessive fertility and overpopulation has gradually become widespread. And, correctly or not, many people associate large populations with political, social and environmental problems. The prospect of controlling fertility and population growth has become an economic and technological reality; many countries already are moving toward fertility control.

    Fertility is viewed by some as an entirely demographic phenomenon—as one of the three components of population growth; and, in this sense, fertility is related not only to growth, but to the distribution and...

  10. 7 Family Planning Services
    (pp. 98-111)
    George L. Wilber

    Voluntary family planning has become a prevailing pattern, practiced in some fashion by almost all couples, regardless of income, class, religion, or color. Whether Americans are able to choose freely if and when to have children depends largely on the priority devoted to policies, research, and educational programs designed to reduce unwanted pregnancy.

    The policy position of the United States regarding family planning is still emerging but has already undergone a considerable evolution. Since earlier days when advocates of birth control such as Margaret Sanger were jailed for their efforts, the nation has come to a position of encouraging and...

  11. 8 Modernism and Poverty
    (pp. 112-120)
    Thomas E. Hammock and Jon M. Shepard

    One of the poverty components listed in chapter 2 is a poverty of capability, or the absence of capabilities as expressed in the underdevelopment of skills and abilities. Unemployment, underemployment, and low income levels are properties of poverty which result from poverty of capability. This chapter will focus on some psychological factors—modernism and internal-external control—that influence the extent to which persons will attempt to develop their capabilities. These two related concepts shed light on some psychological obstacles to self-support that exist among the poor.

    Modernism refers to a set of attitudes, values, and beliefs. As a psychological concept,...

  12. 9 Achievement Motivation and Poverty
    (pp. 121-131)
    Martha Woods

    It is evident from chapter 8 that several variables can be used in studying the psychology of poverty. This theme is continued in the present chapter which focuses on achievement motivation or the need for achievement. Achievement motivation was selected because it is closely related both to modernism and to economic development.

    Barriers to the development and satisfaction of achievement motivation represents obstacles to the attainment of independence and self-support above a level of economic poverty. The need for achievement appears to be one of the most immediate and significant aspects of one’s motivational resources. Therefore, the extent to which...

  13. 10 Communication and Modernization in Appalachia
    (pp. 132-163)
    Daniel E. Jaco and Philip C. Palmgreen

    The physical and sociocultural isolation of Appalachia has maintained the existence of nineteenth-century ideas and technology within the boundaries of the most affluent nation in the world. While there are subcultural elements within Appalachia which may be preferred to their modern counterparts, the consequences of this isolation for the people of the region—whether one considers general health, income, education, or almost any of a number of other variables—have for the most part been highly disadvantageous. Therefore, the infusion of modern norms, ideas, and innovations, carefully articulated with present Appalachian culture, is required if the gap which continues to...

  14. 11 Poverty: A New Perspective
    (pp. 164-178)
    George L. Wilber

    On the first page of this book the question was raised as to why the United States—the richest, best educated, most technically advanced nation in the world—is unable to eliminate poverty. As Alice Rivlin (1972:5) says, this is the most mystifying fact of our time. She points to a variety of “villain theories,” the common element of which is that some identifiable group is believed to have the power to solve such problems as poverty but can’t or won’t. The villains include a wide variety of guilty persons, including the lazy, “good-for-nothing” low income groups, pot-smoking hippies, and...

  15. References
    (pp. 179-198)
  16. Contributors
    (pp. 199-199)