Since capitalism has extinguished significant alternatives — belief systems, values or ideologies that could conceivably replace it — the new poverty has nothing to offer in its own stead; only the sharp, opportunistic wisdom of getting by, surviving; living, as they say, one day at a time.
It responded to, and recognised, a common human destiny. The culture of poverty also emerges as a key concept in Michael Harrington 's discussion of American poverty in The Other America Inanthropologist Carol Stack issued a critique of it, calling it "fatalistic" and noticing the way that believing in the idea of a culture of poverty does not describe the poor so much as it serves the interests of the rich.
The only promise of emancipation for the poor comes from within the very structures that oppress them. In the United States the culture of poverty that exists in the black community has the additional disadvantage of perceived racial discrimination. Since the late s, the culture of poverty has witnessed a resurgence in the social sciences, but most scholars now reject the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty.
This culture does exist. Resources at the disposal of industrial workers were inadequate for a dignified sufficiency; people used desperate expedients — pawning clothes and redeeming them on payday, scavenging in the rural hinterland for dietary supplements, dependency on loans, frequent removals to avoid bailiffs.
Newer research typically rejects the idea that whether people are poor can be explained by their values. He argued that although the burdens of poverty were systemic and so imposed upon these members of society, they led to the formation of an autonomous subculture as children were socialized into behaviors and attitudes that perpetuated their inability to escape the underclass.
It is a culture in the traditional anthropological sense in that it provides human beings with a design for living, a ready-made set of solutions for human problems, and so serves a significant adaptive function. The new poverty, the triumphant poverty of modernity, unlike its predecessor, is not in opposition to capitalism.
People with a culture of poverty have very little sense of history.