Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2002


Published in Great Plains Research 12:2 (Fall 2002). Copyright © 2002 Center for Great Plains Studies.


The Great Plains is home to a range of economic experiences, yet little research has focused on the roles that poor people and poverty have played in society. Constantly, though, the ghost of Tom Joad, John Steinbeck's protagonist in The Grapes of Wrath, has reminded us of the status of the contemporary poor while also embodying the potential for social change. Robert Lee Maril, has produced the first comprehensive analysis of poverty in Oklahoma, the eighth poorest state in the nation, in which he explores myths about the poor and the "real" causes of poverty, especially low-wage labor. Maril develops a methodological triangulation of research that employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, including random sample surveys, census data, in-depth interviews, and an ethnography of four poor neighborhoods in four different communities.