The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

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The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Caleb » 31 May 2012, 03:40

This really could have gone in a number of threads, so if anyone wants to move it, that's fine.

Today, at another site, I was discussing education with someone. He made a point that if you're from a wealthy family, it's preferable that your kids attend a socio-economically diverse school because then they will be exposed to more real people. I'm not even sure who constitutes real people. Even Prince William, Angelina Jolie or Rupert Murdoch are real people, despite the fact that I'll probably never socialise with them.

Anyway, it seemed a curious point to me. Not everyone who comes from a wealthy, highly driven family is someone you'd want your kids to hang out with. Kids from such families may indeed grow up to have issues based upon the pressure they may find themselves under. However, not every poor kid is someone you'd want your kids to hang out with either. It seems to me that you'd want your kids to hang out with decent people. Families with severe social problems tend to be disproportionately represented in the lower class. To some extent, that's why they're lower class. Their alcoholism, violent behaviour, slack/bad attitude, or other specific or general irresponsibilities are largely why they are poor and will continue to be poor.

If a person accepts the above premise, then clearly, if you want your kids to avoid bad people and encounter good people, you're going to tend to have more success if they associate with people of the same or higher socio-economic status.

The notion that rich people's problems are self-inflicted and something they can or should be blamed for, yet poor people's problems (which tend to occur to a greater and more common extent) are not self-inflicted and not something they can or should be blamed for, and indeed, should be romanticised in some way, is extremely common. It actually surprises me how common it is. Working in state education has actually strongly innoculated me against this attitude, though I'd probably still be the exception within my field. I wonder to what extent people really believe in the romanticisation of poverty or whether it's just something they think they should say because it is, ironically, a class marker for white (because no other ethnic group buys into this at all), middle to upper-middle class liberals.

In many ways, it mirrors the way in which other cultures are romanticised. I suppose the underclass and poverty are other cultures, so it's not actually a parallel attitude, but simply part of the broader one.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Damo » 31 May 2012, 10:36

Caleb, poverty is a multi-billion euro industry. A lot of people make their living from it.

May I also add that over the last decade the grievance industry has also flourished.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Rachel » 31 May 2012, 22:51

Caleb wrote:...It seems to me that you'd want your kids to hang out with decent people. Families with severe social problems tend to be disproportionately represented in the lower class. To some extent, that's why they're lower class. Their alcoholism, violent behaviour, slack/bad attitude, or other specific or general irresponsibilities are largely why they are poor and will continue to be poor...


I am sure you know that poor people's problems are not *that* frequently self inflicted.
Some social problems like for example, having a parent or family member with an awful mental illness like schizophrenia or very severe depression happen equally to all people. However it is easier for a rich family to deal with and find decent treatment for, than a poor family. It's the same with self inflicted problems like illegal drug addiction, single parenthood etc.

I agree with the rest of your general point though.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Caleb » 01 Jun 2012, 00:18

Rachel: I disagree. In this day and age, in any modern country such as Britain, there are so many support services available (indeed, there are massive industries in all such fields) that these things needn't be an absolute burden. We're not talking about Guatemala or Cameroon where you'd be left to fend for yourself on the street.

I also think people put the cart before the horse a little bit with some of these problems. Maybe drug addiction is actually a medical problem, a root cause of other problems (such as criminal activity, poor work attendance, etc.) that lead to poverty. However, maybe it's the symptom of those other things, rather than their cause.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Gavin » 01 Jun 2012, 09:16

I would agree that this is "the big lie" on this issue. Perhaps Caleb put boldly, but a reading of Dalrymple, with his massive first hand experience, suggests that - in the main - human laxness leads to poverty and crime, rather than vice versa.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Rachel » 01 Jun 2012, 16:20

Caleb wrote:Rachel: I disagree. In this day and age, in any modern country such as Britain, there are so many support services available (indeed, there are massive industries in all such fields) that these things needn't be an absolute burden. We're not talking about Guatemala or Cameroon where you'd be left to fend for yourself on the street..


I suppose you're right about drug addiction in that sometimes it leads to poverty and sometimes it and poverty are a symptom of just being feckless.

However with mental illness, my mother had depression when I was a child and having access to a private psychiatrist for drugs helped more than if we hadn't. I remember acting up at school at the time as a young child. I remember the teachers telling me off much more than they did on an underclass girl who's parents were divorced and had "issues" they understood and let off. (So I agree with the general point that poor are held to a lower standard on behavioural things.) But in the end my problem was resolved with my Mum getting private treatment. Mental illness is not as easy to get state treatment for as standard physical problems. If you need an operation or antibiotics for something you'll get them regardless of income especially in an emergency. Whereas getting the right psychiatric drugs suited to a patient takes time, luck and skill and is more dependant on having the cash to pay privately. BTW This is not an argument for tossing even more cash at the NHS or naffy government support services.

Yes I agree with what you say about drugs and that often human laxness leads to poverty and crime instead of the other way around. I just think there are exceptions with mental illness and in a few other cases.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Caleb » 02 Jun 2012, 01:33

Rachel: Sure. It's probably nowhere near as black and white as I made it out to be. I think the exceptions are used as excuses by everyone else though. Of course, in the West, every other poorly behaved kid has ADHD. Even where I am now, this is becoming a common explanation (i.e. excuse). Yet I would bet that nine times out of ten, the kid with ADHD actually just comes from a home where the parents have been slack in all sorts of ways. I bet that nine times out of ten, I could describe to you what the living room look like, or what a typical Saturday consists of, in the homes and families of my better and worse students, and there would be a common thread for the better students and a common thread for the worse students (the presence versus absence of a bookshelf with several dozen books; a family outing together as opposed to the adults sitting around watching TV and drinking and the kids either joining them or off somewhere else without the knowledge, or care, of the adults), and I bet very little of it would have anything to do with real mental illness.
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Re: The Romanticisation of Poverty and Social Problems

Postby Yessica » 30 Dec 2014, 17:33

I was invited to a socialist austerity motto party.

Most of those invited are in their twenties and were not born or small children when the political change happened. I could not help thinking that this was a bit distasteful. It's like playing the real life of real people who are still around and some of them might think that poverty was not that much fun at all.

I cannot help thinking that this is a sign of decadence.
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