Monday, July 4, 2011

What is meant by the term underclass?

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What is meant by the term “underclass”? How useful is the concept in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain in the 1st Century.


The concept of the underclass is perceived to be an historical phenomenon. One of the oldest analysers of the concept referred to the notion if the underclass as the over production and over population of the lower classes. Marx saw the underclass as a vast army of illiterate workers. He thought that the people that made up the underclass were too ignorant and unorganised to achieve any real class status. As time has progressed many other different definitions of the underclass have been put forward. Within this essay these different notions of the underclass will be discussed in further detail and also the link or furthermore the usefulness of the concept is in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain in the 1st century.


The term the underclass is basically defined by sociologists to be a group of people who do not belong to one of the established classifications of social class, creating a need for an additional lower class. Generally and furthermore traditionally we have three basic classes, the upper class, the middle class, and the working class. The underclass fills the void in between the classes. They people within the underclass are those that do not chose to work or maybe are even incapable of working thus are dependent on other providing for them. It is perceived that the underclasses are beneath the usual social scale consisting of the most disadvantaged people such as the unemployed in inner cites. Auletta refers to the underclass that does not “assimilate” and identifies four main groups. Firstly there is the passive poor, usually long term welfare recipients, secondly the hostile street criminal, drop outs and drug addicts, thirdly the hustlers, dependent on the underground economy but rarely involved in violent crime and lastly the traumatised drunks, drifters, homeless bag ladies and released mental patients. In all four cases it is argued that the term underclass has been derisive due to pathological or structural factors. For example Alcock perceives the underclass as being offset by the complex operation of social forces, this includes classes, groups, agencies and institutions. However when attempting to define the term underclass many sociologists prefer to stick with the simple definition that the underclass is a set of individuals that cut themselves of from society through their behaviour and attitudes as opposed to delving deeper and arguing that the underclass maybe a group of people who have created a tangled web for themselves due to the complexity of work across multiple levels of the structure of society.


Now some general definitions have been giving of what the underclass maybe, it is necessary to concentrate on a few main definitions given my numerous sociologists and analysers of the underclass in order to understand the term fully. One sociologist defines the underclass bases on people living in areas of concentrated poverty. Wilson’s believes that the underclass of poverty a structural problem. In order to understand the term underclass fully from his point of view, the causes need to be explained. Wilson says that structural changes leading to development of underclass. Firstly according to Wilson there is the industrial re-structuring- less-low-skill, higher wage jobs in the economy; leads to a mismatch of skills. Secondly there is the migration of jobs to suburban areas-underclass lacks the transportation necessary to complete for these jobs. Thirdly there is a reduction in the number of marriageable, gainfully employed men, therefore more single parent households. Fourthly there is a selective out migration of better-of middle class from inner cities thus the population of the inner cities become further isolated socially and economically, therefore increasing concentration of poverty. Lastly there is the neighbourhood effects which are things such as those left suffered from greater economic and social stresses, isolation from “upwardly mobile roles” and good schools, and shared understandings of aspirations. Wilson sees the problem of the underclass as generated by societal attitudes.


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Charles Murray defines the term the underclass as a group of individuals which are experiencing high levels of high unemployment and also a group where there is a high single parent hood. Murray also includes when considering the definition of the underclass includes the fact that that nearly all in the underclass are welfare claimants. Murray sees the underclass as a cultural phenomenon. Murray takes a census data, and in Britain, sees concentrations of unemployed, single parent hood, high crime and thus makes casual connections. Murray believed that there were many ways in order to define the underclass, being an American sociologist he identified three warning signals in the US which helped to create his definition of what the underclass was. The first one is illegitimacy; secondly violent crime and lastly drops out form the labour force � unemployment. Murray believed that the underclass was very much made up of single parent families. He adopted a cultural approach in the sense he blamed the culture that some were immersed in, on how the underclass was created. He explains in his analysis that children that were bought up in single parent families lacked a male role model and thus this resulted in discipline decreasing in families. Furthermore these young men experienced unemployment thus they started turning to crime and drugs. These values then were passed down generations. Although Marx’s analysis was very valuable in that his analysis has been widely influential in government policy in the 180s and 10 in the U.K. and U.S.A. However some do say that Murray’s theory sounds racist, he does argue that that the black family type has had a bad influence on the lower working class. He also goes on to say that Blacks are less intelligent.


Another sociologist Jencks proposes another definition of the underclass. She suggests that it is much harder then it seems to come up with a clear definition of the underclass. She puts forward four main factors which help to define the underclass. Firstly it is an individual with income below the poverty level. Secondly not a dependent child. Thirdly an employable adult who works on average less then twenty hours a week. Lastly an individual who lives in urban areas, specifically the central city. Jenks makes the point within her analysis that income the most dubious characteristic of the underclass. She says that underclass individuals’ posses a different set of morals and values that are inconsistent with the rest of society. These people are more inappropriately reproductively active, violent and lack basic intellectual skills. Jencks’s analysis has also provoked ideas to do what is referred to as the economic underclass. The notion of the economics underclass helps one to understand further what maybe the true meaning of the underclass. It combines Jencks’s idea of a reproductive underclass with the no incentive hypothesis. Within Jencks’s analysis it is suggested that the American standard of procreation expects individuals to have children only when they can afford them and even then only when they are married. According to Jencks’s analysis with the mixture of the hypothesis say that the individuals that make up the underclass violate this standard by reproducing when they cannot afford children expressly to earn income. However although this analysis is good, one has to note that not many correlations or furthermore proper evidence if this has been found.


When referring to the term the underclass and its relationship with welfare claimants, one needs to understand the underclass and its relationship with work. Many of the individuals within the underclass fail to work consistently in order to drive themselves out of poverty. This drives the movement for welfare reform. The Individuals within the underclass have no incentive to work as they are quick to realise that the government provides enough income for them to survive. Thus they have much free time on their hands and turn to other things such as crime. Analysers of the underclass say that is a basic economic theory. The individuals that participate in the labour market have varying substitution rates for work and leisure. The existence of the underclass results from a concentration of individuals in the central city with high leisure to pay substitution rates. As the Government provides enough income to satisfy their preferences, members of the underclass choose a disproportionate amount of leisure time. Thus the existence of welfare is helping the underclass to exist. The underclass do not utilise their free time efficiently, not only do they not work, however they pursue anti social type activities such as crime and racism etc.


The term the underclass is useful in explaining the position of welfare claimants in the UK as by finding a definition and highlighting the problems within and created by the underclass British authorities have been able to change the position of welfare claimants. Whereas before many people were able to claim and furthermore live of the welfare leading to the further creation of the underclass as the 1st century progresses this has no longer been possible. It is perceived that Britain is moving towards a US style workfare system, where the most vulnerable are forced to accept any jobs or lose benefits. Drug addicts and the homeless, types of people that are associated with the underclass will be rounded up by benefit advisers for what is being perceived as the most radical expansion yet to drive welfare claimants into work. Under the proposal given, new claimants who refuse to be interviewed by Benefits Agency staff could be refused benefits and existing claimants who do likewise could see their welfare payments cut by up to 0%. Previously before these measures were


Although the term the underclass is useful to an extent in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain as it is important to note that many genuine claimants will be put through a process which could cause them anxiety, distress and furthermore hardship. The most troubling point is that this welfare reform may not help to reduce the underclass at all, as it they do not want to work, not having benefits may make them just turn to crime even more. Therefore making the underclass an even bigger problem. Thus the tern underclass is not so useful in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain today as many of the welfare claimants may not even be part of the underclass. Research does show that there are many genuine claimants in Briton who are not trying to bring themselves of poverty. There claiming welfare shows no link with the underclass.





What is meant by the term “underclass”? How useful is the concept in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain in the 1st Century.


The concept of the underclass is perceived to be an historical phenomenon. One of the oldest analysers of the concept referred to the notion if the underclass as the over production and over population of the lower classes. Marx saw the underclass as a vast army of illiterate workers. He thought that the people that made up the underclass were too ignorant and unorganised to achieve any real class status. As time has progressed many other different definitions of the underclass have been put forward. Within this essay these different notions of the underclass will be discussed in further detail and also the link or furthermore the usefulness of the concept is in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain in the 1st century.


The term the underclass is basically defined by sociologists to be a group of people who do not belong to one of the established classifications of social class, creating a need for an additional lower class. Generally and furthermore traditionally we have three basic classes, the upper class, the middle class, and the working class. The underclass fills the void in between the classes. They people within the underclass are those that do not chose to work or maybe are even incapable of working thus are dependent on other providing for them. It is perceived that the underclasses are beneath the usual social scale consisting of the most disadvantaged people such as the unemployed in inner cites. Auletta refers to the underclass that does not “assimilate” and identifies four main groups. Firstly there is the passive poor, usually long term welfare recipients, secondly the hostile street criminal, drop outs and drug addicts, thirdly the hustlers, dependent on the underground economy but rarely involved in violent crime and lastly the traumatised drunks, drifters, homeless bag ladies and released mental patients. In all four cases it is argued that the term underclass has been derisive due to pathological or structural factors. For example Alcock perceives the underclass as being offset by the complex operation of social forces, this includes classes, groups, agencies and institutions. However when attempting to define the term underclass many sociologists prefer to stick with the simple definition that the underclass is a set of individuals that cut themselves of from society through their behaviour and attitudes as opposed to delving deeper and arguing that the underclass maybe a group of people who have created a tangled web for themselves due to the complexity of work across multiple levels of the structure of society.


Now some general definitions have been giving of what the underclass maybe, it is necessary to concentrate on a few main definitions given my numerous sociologists and analysers of the underclass in order to understand the term fully. One sociologist defines the underclass bases on people living in areas of concentrated poverty. Wilson’s believes that the underclass of poverty a structural problem. In order to understand the term underclass fully from his point of view, the causes need to be explained. Wilson says that structural changes leading to development of underclass. Firstly according to Wilson there is the industrial re-structuring- less-low-skill, higher wage jobs in the economy; leads to a mismatch of skills. Secondly there is the migration of jobs to suburban areas-underclass lacks the transportation necessary to complete for these jobs. Thirdly there is a reduction in the number of marriageable, gainfully employed men, therefore more single parent households. Fourthly there is a selective out migration of better-of middle class from inner cities thus the population of the inner cities become further isolated socially and economically, therefore increasing concentration of poverty. Lastly there is the neighbourhood effects which are things such as those left suffered from greater economic and social stresses, isolation from “upwardly mobile roles” and good schools, and shared understandings of aspirations. Wilson sees the problem of the underclass as generated by societal attitudes.


Charles Murray defines the term the underclass as a group of individuals which are experiencing high levels of high unemployment and also a group where there is a high single parent hood. Murray also includes when considering the definition of the underclass includes the fact that that nearly all in the underclass are welfare claimants. Murray sees the underclass as a cultural phenomenon. Murray takes a census data, and in Britain, sees concentrations of unemployed, single parent hood, high crime and thus makes casual connections. Murray believed that there were many ways in order to define the underclass, being an American sociologist he identified three warning signals in the US which helped to create his definition of what the underclass was. The first one is illegitimacy; secondly violent crime and lastly drops out form the labour force � unemployment. Murray believed that the underclass was very much made up of single parent families. He adopted a cultural approach in the sense he blamed the culture that some were immersed in, on how the underclass was created. He explains in his analysis that children that were bought up in single parent families lacked a male role model and thus this resulted in discipline decreasing in families. Furthermore these young men experienced unemployment thus they started turning to crime and drugs. These values then were passed down generations. Although Marx’s analysis was very valuable in that his analysis has been widely influential in government policy in the 180s and 10 in the U.K. and U.S.A. However some do say that Murray’s theory sounds racist, he does argue that that the black family type has had a bad influence on the lower working class. He also goes on to say that Blacks are less intelligent.


Another sociologist Jencks proposes another definition of the underclass. She suggests that it is much harder then it seems to come up with a clear definition of the underclass. She puts forward four main factors which help to define the underclass. Firstly it is an individual with income below the poverty level. Secondly not a dependent child. Thirdly an employable adult who works on average less then twenty hours a week. Lastly an individual who lives in urban areas, specifically the central city. Jenks makes the point within her analysis that income the most dubious characteristic of the underclass. She says that underclass individuals’ posses a different set of morals and values that are inconsistent with the rest of society. These people are more inappropriately reproductively active, violent and lack basic intellectual skills. Jencks’s analysis has also provoked ideas to do what is referred to as the economic underclass. The notion of the economics underclass helps one to understand further what maybe the true meaning of the underclass. It combines Jencks’s idea of a reproductive underclass with the no incentive hypothesis. Within Jencks’s analysis it is suggested that the American standard of procreation expects individuals to have children only when they can afford them and even then only when they are married. According to Jencks’s analysis with the mixture of the hypothesis say that the individuals that make up the underclass violate this standard by reproducing when they cannot afford children expressly to earn income. However although this analysis is good, one has to note that not many correlations or furthermore proper evidence if this has been found.


When referring to the term the underclass and its relationship with welfare claimants, one needs to understand the underclass and its relationship with work. Many of the individuals within the underclass fail to work consistently in order to drive themselves out of poverty. This drives the movement for welfare reform. The Individuals within the underclass have no incentive to work as they are quick to realise that the government provides enough income for them to survive. Thus they have much free time on their hands and turn to other things such as crime. Analysers of the underclass say that is a basic economic theory. The individuals that participate in the labour market have varying substitution rates for work and leisure. The existence of the underclass results from a concentration of individuals in the central city with high leisure to pay substitution rates. As the Government provides enough income to satisfy their preferences, members of the underclass choose a disproportionate amount of leisure time. Thus the existence of welfare is helping the underclass to exist. The underclass do not utilise their free time efficiently, not only do they not work, however they pursue anti social type activities such as crime and racism etc.


The term the underclass is useful in explaining the position of welfare claimants in the UK as by finding a definition and highlighting the problems within and created by the underclass British authorities have been able to change the position of welfare claimants. Whereas before many people were able to claim and furthermore live of the welfare leading to the further creation of the underclass as the 1st century progresses this has no longer been possible. It is perceived that Britain is moving towards a US style workfare system, where the most vulnerable are forced to accept any jobs or lose benefits. Drug addicts and the homeless, types of people that are associated with the underclass will be rounded up by benefit advisers for what is being perceived as the most radical expansion yet to drive welfare claimants into work. Under the proposal given, new claimants who refuse to be interviewed by Benefits Agency staff could be refused benefits and existing claimants who do likewise could see their welfare payments cut by up to 0%. Previously before these measures were


Although the term the underclass is useful to an extent in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain as it is important to note that many genuine claimants will be put through a process which could cause them anxiety, distress and furthermore hardship. The most troubling point is that this welfare reform may not help to reduce the underclass at all, as it they do not want to work, not having benefits may make them just turn to crime even more. Therefore making the underclass an even bigger problem. Thus the tern underclass is not so useful in explaining the position of welfare claimants in Britain today as many of the welfare claimants may not even be part of the underclass. Research does show that there are many genuine claimants in Briton who are not trying to bring themselves of poverty. There claiming welfare shows no link with the underclass.








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