Sociology – Culture

Paper Details:
Who are the sub-groups that ended up in the “other America” ? This questions has to be answered from the book “the other America” from Michael Harrington.

Michael Harrington’s “The Other America,” is widely considered one of the most influential works of the 1960s. It documented how millions of Americans — the very old, for example, or those from Appalachia — still lived in crushing poverty.

The major thesis of Harrington in The Other America was that this culture of poverty held minions captive just as helplessly as flies are held on flypaper. These 50 million could only be freed by the efforts of fellow citizens by enacting redemptive public policies.

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The fact that is that almost no one in the early 1960s thought of poverty as something involving urban blacks. (West Virginia was the model in those days.) We are then given a tour through the major ways by which intellectuals tried to understand the poor: the culture of poverty. Harrington aimed for making his readers understand that regardless of the apparent national consensus that the “affluent society” had arrived, there had been a continual culture of poverty which existed in urban slums as well as rural isolation.

Harrington’s “discovery” had two parts: First, he pointed out that 50 million Americans lived below the poverty line. Second, drawing on the work of Oscar Lewis, the book argued that the poor had a culture of poverty that required that they be assisted in learning to help themselves. Harrington offered some critiques on the housing problem. He wrote that housing “must be seen as an important organism for the creation of community life in the cities.”

“The poor are not like everyone else . . . . They think and feel differently; they look upon a different America than the middle class looks upon,” Harrington wrote.

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