Social and economic changes that are currently taking place in Poland result in the greater significance of consumer possibilities and their greater role in perceiving the position of individuals in the consumer society. In the world characterized by the over-production of goods and advertisements continually stimulating new needs the social function of individuals begins more and more often to boil down to the role of consumers. Particularly unfavourable in such a world is the situation of poor people who are not able to satisfy their needs. In Poland, rural areas traditionally constituted an environment where the incomes were lower and the conditions of living were harder. The specific ethos of work and values cherished by the inhabitants of rural areas made it possible to endure difficulties with dignity and ensured poor people a place in the social structure of their community. The progressing changes have weakened the traditional ties and altered the hierarchy of values also that of the rural population. The authoress of the article uses the results of research conducted in six rural communes to analyse changes in the rural population's attitude to the phenomena of poverty and wealth, and to present the opinions of the residents of rural areas about the causes of poverty and about their own standard of living.