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Selling in the Barrio: The Culture of Poverty Essay

Decent Essays
Multiple studies have been completed to show that people from all racial groups and ethnicities are negatively affected by poverty. Those in the lowest social class, while a mix of ethnicities, are predominantly minorities and affected the most. What stood out about Philippe Bourgeois’ is that he not only studies the people and their culture but he lived it with them. Mr. Bourgois spent two years with his wife and child living with the Puerto Rican’s in East Harlem, NY. He lived with them and became a friend to many of them with the hopes of providing an accurate analysis of their culture. While living there he encountered all of the barrios social problems; from gender inequality to drugs and illegal activities to racial segregation.…show more content…
Bourgois referred to this culture as an alien culture because it was significantly different from anything Primo would have known. On the one hand his boss did not respect him nor did she trust his abilities. Yet on the other, Primo was not willing to conform to this foreign culture. In reality he was not physically or mentally able to assimilate. This idea of the minority or “inferior” culture being forced to conform to the majority or “superior” culture is due to cultural causes. Primo was raised believing that his culture is what made him the man he was. He was not taught to try and go further than his parents. For Primo to go on to better his education and lifestyle choices his family needed to provide him with giving him a higher class social capital. He would have needed guidance to career oriented activities as he grew up. The biggest problem with this is that his parents were probably not capable of this. In his conclusion Bourgois believes that disintegrating the current governmental free market system would be a short-term solution. Yet one has to wonder, is the government the cause of the problems of those in poverty or is it due to cultural and individual problems.
His experience with legal employment brings one to the truth that racism still exists. Primo was forbidden from answering the phones because of his Puerto Rican accent. As Bourgois points out, the only time Primo noticed he was being racially judged was
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