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To say that the lower class's "culture of poverty" is the cause of their inability to socially upgrade themselves out of poverty is quite simple-minded. To believe in such a theory is to believe that a woman's sex is the cause of her lower income compared to her male colleagues. Elliot Liebow's Tally's Corner and Jay Macleod's Ain't No Makin' It allow us to surmise that the "culture of poverty" is a mere collection of individual characteristics that are found undesirable and irresponsible to middle- and upper-class Americans. These works evidence the negative effects of American society upon the urban poor's behaviors, ambitions, and opportunities. By analyzing the intergenerational models of poverty transmission, we have distinguished inherent and underlying structural conditions that drive the behavior of the "lower-class" and relegate the poor to a culture of poverty. Only by working to improve societal social structure will we be able to help these disadvantaged individuals gain the self-esteem within themselves and the resources and opportunities from their society to once again believe in the "American Dream" of success.
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