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Abstract

Data gathered from a convenience sample of 36 women who reside in rural villages lying on the outskirts of Buea, Cameroon is not consistent with the “culture of poverty” proposition which states that personal characteristics of the poor tie them to a life of poverty. These findings run counter to an assumed “culture of poverty” in which persons do not hold career aspirations and socialize their children with attitudes that assure the generational transmission of poverty. Respondents, as a case vignette illustrates, conveyed that besides marriage they had wanted a career in order to achieve a living wage. After their own career dreams were dashed, they devoted themselves to the hard work of farming and petty trading in the hope they could help their children escape subsistence living. Results of this study point away from policies that would seek to change the outlook and habits of mothers living in poverty and toward external changes that would permit them earnings commensurate with their persistent efforts.

Note on the Author

Akuri John is the Executive Director of Hope for Humanity (NGO).

Susan Weinger is a professor of social work at Western Michigan University.

Barbara Barton is an assistant professor of social work at Western Michigan University.

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