Poverty and Society: A New Inquiry into an Old Question - Commentary Series

Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity recently asked several commentators to discuss the relationship between poverty and society in the United States today. The social dimensions of poverty and the challenges low-income people face are important, but the topic has long been fraught due to inadequate approaches. As Peter Edelman states plainly in his introductory piece: “The debate over whether there is a ‘culture’ of poverty is hardly new. The subject has always been controversial and, many would say, politicized.” 


This series is intended to bring to life a different approach to poverty and society—one that focuses on new, thoughtful, and important research. Below is a complete list of the pieces in the series.

Poverty and Society: A New Inquiry into an Old Question—Opening Thoughts

Peter Edelman, Georgetown University - Posted August 15, 2011

 A Fresh Approach to Culture

Mario L. Small, University of Chicago, Michèle Lamont, Harvard University, and David J. Harding, University of Michigan - Posted August 15, 2011

Rescuing the American Dream: Culture’s Power to Reduce Poverty            

Peter Wehner, Ethics and Public Policy Center - Posted August 22, 2011

The Culture of the Non-Poor: A Hidden Force

Joshua Guetzkow, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Posted August 29, 2011

Deliberation and Poverty: Lessons from the Indian Experience

Vijayendra Rao, Development Research Group, The World Bank - Posted September 6, 2011


Cultural Theories of Black Unemployment Won’t Fade Away: But Are They Right?

Sandra Susan Smith, University of California, Berkeley - Posted September 12, 2011