Dismantling myths, speeches and moral boundaries. Reflections and contributions from the Sociology of Poverty.

  • María Cristina Bayón
Keywords: sociology of poverty; inequality; disadvantages; representations, stigma, othering


From a sociological perspective, poverty is not only relative, but
socially constructed, what requires incorporating the analysis
of the institutional mechanisms that produce inequality, the
material and discursive aspects of poverty, the ways the poor
are constructed as a social category and the stigmas associated
to such construction. The sociology of the poverty transcends
those perspectives limited to the description and measurement
of the life conditions and shortages of disadvantaged groups,
by investigating the particular modes under which these
conditions are experienced and problematized. Together with
the unquestionable material basis of poverty, it is necessary to
incorporate to the analysis the symbolic and relational dimensions
that contribute to create, maintain and reproduce it. The poor not
are not out, but in society, though in an unfavorable situation,
which leads us to explore the terms of their incorporation, their
quality of citizenship. Social and economic changes experienced
in recent decades have made Latin American cities a more hostile
context for disadvantaged sectors, where poverty has acquired a
more excluding character. In this context, this article analyzes
how these changes led to new, more complex and dynamic
perspectives, and the studies resulting from them, contributing
to the understanding the new expressions of the old problem of
the poverty. The different approaches and studies analyzed do
not only contribute to the dismantling of the false myths fed by
the culture of poverty theses, but allow to understand the way(s)
in which society (s) relates with poverty and how it is thought,
experienced, institutionalized and legitimized in particular