Rags, Riches, and Bootstraps: Beliefs about the Causes of Wealth and Poverty
Specific beliefs pertaining to wealth and poverty emanate from metatheories about socioeconomic inequalities. As cognitions, these metatheories filter social perceptions and generate beliefs about the specific causes of wealth and poverty. Four metatheories coexist in American culture and compete for public support. The four are individualism, culturalism, structuralism/situationalism, and fatalism. Using public opinion data on beliefs about 38 often-mentioned causes of wealth and poverty, the degree of support for each metatheory was determined. Individualism was the metatheory of choice in specifying the causes of poverty, whereas culturalism and individualism vied for superiority in identifying the causes of wealth.
Sociology and Anthropology
Smith, Kevin B., and Lorene H. Stone. "Rags, riches, and bootstraps: Beliefs about the causes of wealth and poverty." Sociological Quarterly 30, no. 1 (1989): 93-107.