Culture of Poverty

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					Culture of Poverty
          Matt Markve
University of Northern Colorado
            5/9/2007
          Today’s Session
• Define and understand scope of poverty in
  US today
• Look at how poverty impacts employment
• Understand factors that can impact
  poverty and the resources that can help
  move people out of poverty
• Things you can do to directly impact
  consumers living in this culture and
  promote successful long term employment
          Poverty Statistics
• 2005 37 Million People Classified as Living
  Below Poverty Line (13% American
  Population/12.6% in Western US)
  – 17.1% of Children
     • GAO 2007
• People with Disabilities viewed as a
  minority group are our most
  underemployed and underpaid
            Consequences
• People living in poverty face increased risk
  – Poor health
  – Criminal activity
  – Reduced participation in labor market
       Framing the Problem
• Areas with higher poverty rates experience
  slower per capita growth rates than low
  poverty areas
• Issues associated with poverty limit the
  development of skills and abilities helpful
  in the labor market
  – GAO 2007
    Brief Look at Two Factors
• Poverty is not simply defined by an
  economic indicator “poverty line”
  established by the government.
• We could spend all day discussing how all
  these factors impact employment but to
  get us started lets look at two to keep it
  simple: Employment = Health X Education
  (Disability)
Framing the Problem (Employment
            = Health)
• One study showed individuals with low
  incomes had life expectancies 25% lower
  than those with higher incomes –(Deaton,
  2002)
  – Less access to health insurance/health care
  – 3 times as likely not to have health insurance
  – Less preventative care
  – Higher rates of smoking/obesity/stress
         Lack of Healthcare
• More sick days
• More family sick days
  – Short term result: Decreased income
  – Long term result: Firing
• Sick days taken up by family emergencies
  (14: 1)
         Employment Study
• 2000 Census:
  – People reporting income above the poverty
    line in 1999 were almost twice as likely to be
    employed than those reporting income below
    the poverty line
  – Why?
   Many Factors (GAO, 2007)
• Research and theories put forth a number
  of dynamic factors besides income that
  contribute to this. Health care was briefly
  explained earlier (Poor health reduces the
  capacity to work)
• Lower educational attainment is another
  – (Employment = Health X Education
    (Disability))
  – Case, (65)
Culture of Poverty –Lewis 1959
• “burdens of poverty…systemic and
  therefore 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.”
Poverty Defined –Payne (2006)
• “The extent to which an individual does
  without resources”
• Financial is only one of nine resources
  Payne uses to define poverty, explaining
  finances alone do not explain why some
  leave poverty and others stay
• Other resources include:
       Emotional Resources
• “Provide the stamina to withstand difficult
  and uncomfortable emotional situations
  and feelings”
          Mental Resources
• Ability to “process information and use it in
  daily living”
• “If an individual can read, write and
  compute, he/she has a decided
  advantage”
        Spiritual Resources
• “Help can be obtained from a higher
  power, there is a purpose for living”
• Sees self as having value rather than
  hopeless
        Physical Resources
• “Having a body that works, that is capable
  and mobile”
• Have to make a note here that depending
  on the consumers we are serving,
  although they may be short on what Payne
  calls “Physical Resources” other resources
  can obviously overcome this barrier.
         Support Systems
• Resources. “To whom does one go when
  help is needed?” Any people that can be
  relied on when help is needed
  (transportation/child care/financial
  support/friendship)
   Relationships/Role Models
• Appropriate role models that provide
  emotional support or can help individuals
  understand the “hidden rules of the middle
  class”
Knowledge of the Hidden Rules
• Payne states that each class
  (lower/middle/upper) has a set of
  associated “Hidden Rules” one must
  master before moving from one class
  distinction to another (food/dress)
         Coping Strategies
• Mindsets/approaches/techniques to
  depersonalize confrontation/issues.
• Managing procedural self-talk
             Hidden Rules
• “Govern…immediate assessment of an
  individual and his/her capabilities.”
  – Limit upward mobility
  – Limit chances of obtaining employment
Role of Language: One hidden rule
• More formal to less formal:
  – Frozen/Formal/Consultative/Casual/Intimate
  – Dropping one register in conversation is socially
    acceptable
  – Dropping two or more is deemed socially offensive
• Middle class tendency is toward the formal
  register (language of work and school)
• Poverty language is in the casual register
  (language between friends)
  – Note that casual is two below formal
              Language Con’t
• The “inability to use [formal register] will knock
  one out of an interview in two or three minutes”
• Counselors encountering consumers using the
  casual register may become frustrated with
  clients who can’t seem to get to the point
• Learning formal register is likened to learning a
  foreign language
   – Significant relationship needed
 Hidden Rules Comparison -Payne
• Poverty               • Middle Class
• Possess People        • Possess Things
• Present timeframe     • Future most
  most important          important.
• Education abstract    • Education crucial
• Destiny: Fate         • Believes in choice
• Local view            • National view
• Driven by survival,   • Driven by work,
  relationships,          achievement
  entertainment
Generational/Situational Poverty
• Generational Poverty: Family has been in
  poverty for two or more generations
  – Prevailing attitude: Society owes one a living
• Situational Poverty: Lack of resources due
  to event (death, illness, divorce)
  – Prevailing attitude: Pride, refusal to accept
    charity
Behavioral Patterns in Generational
             Poverty
• Get angry or dislike boss/teacher will quit.
  Operating off current feeling not long term
  consequences
• Work hard if they like you
• More prone to settle issues with verbal or
  physical assaults
• Little tact, more direct language
• Miss appointments or are often late due to
  family emergencies
 Generational Patterns Continued

• Disorganized paperwork, many excuses
• Can’t seem to “get started”
• Dislike authority
  – Payne, 2006
         Generational Issues
• Not a question of intelligence or ability
• Many do not realize there is a choice (local view
  X generations)
• No appropriate role models (hidden rules, where
  to get resources)
• Family pressures: lack of support for bettering
  self if in conflict with family needs, short term
  view collides with long term education
• View organizations as dishonest
• Time is flexible and not measured (Your time is
  not considered – missed appointments)
 Review of Socioeconomic Factors

• People are conditioned by generational
  poverty
• Live in the moment/survival mode
• Believe in fate, little or no choice to modify
  change the situation
• Local view
• Difficult to make long term plans
   Why People Leave Poverty
1. Goal or vision
2. Rock bottom scenario (anything would
   be better)
3. Mentor or role model
4. Talent or ability
                Key Idea
• Approaches/Interventions will not be
  effective unless the consumers entire
  situation is addressed including cultural
  and socioeconomic factors.
• Scenario: Jerry
         How We Can Help
• Remainder of this presentation will focus
  on recommendations/strategies to bridge
  the gap between poverty and employment
                 Language
• Recognize when casual register is being
  used
  – Correct if necessary if inappropriate register is
    being used
  – Inform consumers how use of formal register
    impacts ability to get a good job
  – Use storytelling if necessary
     Implications/Hidden Rules
• Intelligence has little to do with understanding
  hidden rules (“All intelligence is related to task
  and context”)
• Consumers should be taught hidden rules of
  middle class if needed so they can utilize them if
  they choose
  – Caveat: Rules should not be imposed upon
    people…just another tool in the arsenal
  – “Learning the rules of middle class does not mean the
    values/philosophies have been adopted, it does mean
    individuals can be more successful where they are”
              Hidden Rules
• Understand that some frustrating behavior
  from consumers may be the result of not
  knowing appropriate behavior in your
  environment
  – Being proactive, setting goals and planning
    are not congruent skills for those living in
    generational poverty. Future implications of
    actions are rarely considered.
             Role Models
• Appropriate role models can help establish
  appropriate behavior
• Keeping consumers with the same
  professional as long as possible can help
  establish them as an appropriate role
  model
          Support Systems
• There is just too much content in terms of
  support systems to hit here, but you are
  the masters of your own local community
  support network. Maximize community
  resources and help consumers maximize
  their own personal support networks.
• Anita (73)
           Informed Choice
• Choice is required to move from
  dependence to independence
• “When the focus is I’ll tell you what to do
  and when to do it” consumer will remain
  dependent
• Informed choice should include probable
  consequences of meeting or not meeting
  expected behavior
         Discipline in Poverty
• Tends not to change behavior
• Cycle of “penance and forgiveness” after which
  behavior returns to normal
• Governance comes from outside (punishment
  from mother, legal system)
• Middle class requires a level of self governance
• Giving choices should always be preferred to
  giving orders: allows consumers to “own their
  choice”
        Designing Structure
• Clearly stated rules and expectations
• State consequences up front for choices
• Use incorrect choices/consequences as a
  learning opportunity
• Explain “Why”
• Deliver the consequence
• Follow up
  Improving Performance: Time
• Consumer may not have abstract notion of time
  – Time is kept by the way it “feels” rather than in hours,
    minutes
  – In poverty remember time is kept in present (survival
    mode)
  – Work/appointments are missed because time
    assessment is inaccurate or relatives call or can’t find
    timely transportation or….
  – Establish understanding that work time is not
    personal time, personal time not work time (or
    appointment time)
               Planning
• Planning helps control impulsivity
• Goal-setting (in writing) is key
• Remember, with no plan the tendency is
  toward immediate emotional need, not
  abstract recognition of time
  Improving Performance: Time
• Payne recommends teaching people to “plan backwards”
• Draw a simple grid (below)
• “What do you have to do Thursday so you can be done
  on Friday?” or break task into parts and ask “How much
  time will you need each day to get this done?”

Mon        Tue        Wed         Thu        Fri
           Step 1   Step 2 (1 Step 3   Task
           (15 min) hour)     (15 min) (3/3)
                                       1.5
                                       Hours
                                       total
      Promoting Relationships
• Remember, learning hidden rules is like learning
  a new language: without significant relationships
  present, there is little motivation to learn
• Promote successful relationships/mentors on the
  job whenever possible
• Customers have an opinion formed about your
  agency within the first 15 minutes and that
  opinion is difficult to change after that.
  – Initial distrust of agency/government
  – Initial contact extremely important
           Key Satisfaction Issues
            (Relationship Based)
•   Recall the 15 minute satisfaction point
•   I was treated with respect by the staff
•   The staff gave me the time and attention I needed
•   I was treated fairly
•   The staff is concerned that I do well and helps me if I
    need it
•   The staff notices when I am doing well
•   The staff is calm when they talk to me
•   When I do something wrong the staff explains what I did
    wrong
•   I can trust the staff
     Personal Skills Checklist
• Payne has a long list of skills she calls
  “Core Competencies” for working with
  people in poverty
• According to Payne counselors with the
  following skills will have the most success
  working with poverty:
 Counselor Core Competencies
• Explain rules              • Present concept of crisis
• Adult voice                  as opportunity for change
• Avoid power struggles –    • Kindness/courteous
  manipulation               • Give consumers time
• Use of metaphor              before “getting to the
• Understand casual            agenda”
  register                   • Admit when wrong
• Assess resources           • Humor
• Teach middle class rules   • Informal mentoring
• Use mentoring                techniques
                             • Knowledge of local
                               resources
 Counselor Core Competencies
• Gather data from more than       • Utilize team interventions
  one person                       • Provide mentors
• Respect for consumer’s loyalty   • Assist consumer in developing
  to friends/family                  support teams
• Plan backwards                   • Distinguish between enabling
• Teach procedural self-talk         systems and positive support
• Plan at beginning of each          systems
  session                          • Offer structure and choices
• Avoid direct questions if        • Teach coping strategies
  possible                         • Offer bridge out of poverty
• Teach formal and consultative      culture
  language                         • Use formal mentoring
• Mediate                            regarding primary and
                                     secondary issues
                                   • Understand cognitive
                                     development
      Thanks for Listening
• Questions?
• Follow up information:
  matthew.markve@unco.edu

				
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