Customer Reviews for

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A Framework for Understanding Poverty

I thought that this was a good supplement to Ruby Payne's workshop. She has a lot of ideas that make sense and clear up some of the loose ends when dealing with different socioeconomic backgrounds. It's a lot of good information. I'm still ruminating over it, though....
I thought that this was a good supplement to Ruby Payne's workshop. She has a lot of ideas that make sense and clear up some of the loose ends when dealing with different socioeconomic backgrounds. It's a lot of good information. I'm still ruminating over it, though. I'm trying to figure out how to apply it to my classroom.

posted by 1456207 on May 1, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

The Sarah Palin of Poverty Scholars

As Sarah Palin is to energy policy so too goes Payne. Using data "sources" as robust as Palin's "you can see Russia" Payne's robust portrait of stereotypical poverty is well-fortified to resonate with everyone who feels that poor people are largely responsible for bein...
As Sarah Palin is to energy policy so too goes Payne. Using data "sources" as robust as Palin's "you can see Russia" Payne's robust portrait of stereotypical poverty is well-fortified to resonate with everyone who feels that poor people are largely responsible for being poor. Like Palin who believes energy problems are solved by strategies such as "drill baby drill," Payne argues that the poor would stop being poor if they simply learned a few tricks from the middle class. Disregard the fact that in both cases--there is no evidence to support the potential success of either. For those of you who think I'm making this up--try reading "The Origins of the Urban Crisis" by Thomas Sugrue who provides a real evidence-based account for how poverty works and is sustained by the larger society.

Payne's account simply absolves everyone but those in poverty for their situation. While anyone can find examples of stupid poor people--so can anyone find examples of stupid middle-class and wealthy folks. The genius of Payne is to claim a research basis for blaming all poor people as having a common culture of poverty. Thus, no one has to change but those who are poor. The systematic pressures of society that continue to keep poor people poor are not acknowledged nor even hinted at in Payne's work. She is likely well-intentioned, as is Palin--but both are dangerous voices in debates that require much more informed perspectives.

Read this book if you want to feel better about blaming poor people. And if you want to know what Payne "learned" from her husband (who once was poor) and her individual experience in schools--this book is a fair account. However, if you want to know more about poverty--read something that looks beyond a single person's experience. This is what systematic research does--and Payne has not done any research here. She talks about "data" as if she collected some. She hasn't. By her standard, I've "collected" data my whole life to show that shoes wear out in 5-6 months. Does that mean that all shoes wear out for everyone like that? Would you count that as "data?" As someone remarked, the "plural of anecdote is not data." And anecdotal information as loosely examined as does Payne creates a comfortable book for those who want quick answers to difficult and complex problems.

One last thing--this book is self-published. So when it says Payne is "The Leading U.S. Expert on the Mindsets of Poverty, Middle Class, and Wealth" it's Payne who is declaring herself #1. It also means when you read the "Publisher's Review" that she is commenting on her own book as if she's a third-party publisher. By any measure, she's sold a lot of books, but "Thighmasters" sold well too--it doesn't mean the book is high quality. Payne even claims that selling books is a form of peer review--I think it means she's simply sold a lot of books.

posted by 2ide_cyclops on February 21, 2010

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    Posted June 24, 2010

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