Social Science - Other

Psychological Sociological and Cultural Perspectives of Childhood and Poverty



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This thought provoking title causes a writer to prioritize the power of each perspective in setting the constructs for evaluating poverty and it's effects on child development. In this sense, culture, society, and psychology can be discussed in terms of their effect on the individual's development. But, overall, the process of comparing standards of poverty from one culture to another is done while on a slippery slope.

Cultural perspectives on poverty determines how poverty is defined for large or small groups of humans. The vast majority of humans in the world live in what a relatively small proportion of humans believe to be incredible poverty, yet those humans manage to survive, thrive, reproduce and raise generation after generation of children who grow to adulthood and who repeat the process without destroying the parts of the environment which sustain life. That is the very definition of survival for any species.

In those cultures which are considered to be "impoverished", the cultural standards for survival, work, happiness, success, and satisfaction are different. Religious explanation and constructs provide different guidance, which may not be based on expectations of more material goods. Finding satisfaction and success with far less material goods and resources, and under far more difficult conditions is not as difficult when there is no constant comparison to something different or better.

Cultural norms may foster a different temporal sense of success from generation to generation, where continuation of ways of life, rather than increasing wealth are the goals for each generation. Children may develop into physically sound, productive, and emotionally stable adults, where there is not the chaos of war, natural disaster, or the oppressive and destabilizing actions of dysfunctional governments.

The sociological perspective can deal with the interactions between people who are in the smaller social groupings within a larger culture: the tribes, social classes, regional entities, smaller towns or even rural communities. When there is political and natural stability, the established religious, personal, socializing and other existing systems serve to provide organized ways to deal with sustenance, ownership, and ideas of poverty and wealth. A child who is well cared for in a stable political, family, spiritual, and social environment can thrive in extremely primitive conditions, as is proved when children of tribes from Africa to the Amazon, from Alaska to Antarctica manage to thrive and to survive strictly by living off the land.

The psychological perspective deals with the individual's perception of balance or imbalance in life. In a setting where there is no constant reminder of comparative wealth on view, a child will develop the healthy or deviant behavior that is defined by their community. External standards of psychological health or illness can only be applied to well defined and universal human pathologies that stem from disease, accident, or physical defect. Otherwise, the poor child who grows up in a stable, but primitive environment can be considered no more inherently deviant or pathological than a wealthy child who grows up in a mansion. The individuals behaviors, norms and values will be those that are appropriate within his or her community and family for survival when living off of the land, or in poorer circumstances.

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