Being Poor: Cultural Tools for Survival

Ana Cecília S. Bastos and Elaine P. Rabinovich

in The Oxford Handbook of Culture and Psychology

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195396430
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Being Poor: Cultural Tools for Survival


Poverty has been a subject of interest in psychological theorization and research, inasmuch it is related to many problems and fields with which psychologists deal. Nevertheless, the narratives on poverty available in psychological research and theory are not enough: one might say there exists a “poverty of psychology” regarding this condition, which is a quotidian reality for the majority of the world's population. In this chapter, we intend to approach the reality of being poor as a living experience in process, by addressing several considerations: What does it mean to be poor in the perspective of the poor? How can the relation poor versus non-poor be understood? Which cultural tools are employed in the struggle for survival? This chapter analyzes the historical emergence of the notion of poverty and its uses in research and social policies, identifying the different discourses related to it, the official, the activist, and the discourse of living experience. The approach on cultural tools highlights the concepts of collective memories and resilience, presenting relevant features concerned to them: folk and oral culture, group identification (belongingness and spirituality), hope, and destiny.

Keywords: cultural tools; poverty; otherness; collective memory; resilience

Article.  16001 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology

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