Those Who Were Born Poor: A Qualitative Study of Philippine Poverty


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Abstract

This qualitative study investigated the psychological experience of poverty among 2 groups of Filipinos who were interviewed about the effects of being raised poor, 12 who became rich, and 13 who remained poor. Using constructivist and critical theories as research paradigms and grounded theory as methodology, the results of the study illustrated perceived causes, coping mechanisms, and cultural factors. Surprisingly, both groups were very similar in their experiences of not having basic needs met, of negative emotions, and of generally attributing their poverty to familial circumstances. The ways of coping with poverty, such as receiving and giving assistance and imploring God for help, and the cultural features of perseverance (pagpupunyagi) and reliance on others (pakikipagkapwa) were similarly influential in both groups. Because the main difference between both groups is the occurrence of chance events that provided access to education and opportunities to emigrate for those who have become rich, the oppressive structures of a society that perpetuate poverty are discussed. In developing countries such as the Philippines, the psychological experience of poverty is characterized by the impossibility of upward mobility.

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