Sample Essay

Harrington makes the use of Oscar Lewis’s concept of the culture of poverty interchangeably with that of the ‘vicious circle of poverty’ to imply poor living conditions ‘leading to poor health, poor attendance at school or work, and so on’ (Isserman). Harrington was of the view that additional income can help to break the vicious circle of poverty in which the poor finds himself (Harrington).

Although Harrington’s thesis on the culture of poverty is criticized for its vagueness but the book is eulogized owing to the ‘moral clarity’ that it serves to convey as Harrington professes that the Americans must be ashamed for the fact that in their rich society an enormous number of people is poor (Isserman). If the shame and anger over existence of poverty and the poor in American society, warns Harrington, ‘are not forthcoming, someone can write a book about the other America a generation from now and it will be the same or worse’ (Harrington).

When the legendary work of Barbara Ehrenrich is analyzed it comes to light that her description and analysis of poverty reflect the reform tradition as exemplified by Harrington in The Other America. In Nickel and Dimed Barbara Ehrenreich describes, says Janet Dine, the ‘lifestyle of to which the lower half of the restructured equation are condemned in the richest country of the world’ (Dine 15). The book articulates the contemporary socioeconomic crisis which she locates to the broader sociopolitic climate. ‘Welfare reform itself is a factor’, says  Ehrenreich, ‘weighing against any close investigation of the conditions of the poor’ (Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America 217).

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