Concept of the Underclass

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The concept of the underclass

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The concept of the underclass

As a lone parent myself, I have quickly realised over the years that there seems to be a prejudice towards certain types of individuals within our social stratification. Views that if a person is from a specific background will therefore fall into a certain bracket, suggesting then he or she must therefore be a certain type of person, with a not so flavoursome outlook on life. Facing lone parenthood is by far in my opinion, one the most hardest tasks anyone would have to face, but to then be labelled as well as a ‘scrounger’ or a ‘strain on society’ is it itself unfair, especially as early research shows there was initially very little evidence to sustain these allegations. Why then without any hard evidence, or justification, did the larger proportion of society decide that the reason the country was in financial turmoil was because of a group of individuals that did not fit within their ideology of the working class? History shows that there has always been a group of individuals that did not fit into any of the social structures; they were the homeless, the lone parent, the unemployed, the disadvantaged. In the 1900’s there were the work houses, today there are the refuges places for the poor and homeless to take shelter and get back on their feet, yet how easy is to get out of the lower bracket of the social structure? Charles Murray (1990,1994) stated that,

* Single parents
* Those who do not want to work or the unemployed
* Those making a living from crime
Define the underclass, stating that these people lack morals such as honesty and the want to work hard, that the benefits system encourages people to become single parents and that their offspring lack a role model due to the lack of a farther. Murray was supported in his argument by Dennis and Erdos (1992) whom stated that a ‘dismembered family’ exists because of increased cohabitation, relaxed attitudes to divorce,

and men being able to escape their obligations, they stated that this resulted in crime and substandard parenting skills. Many of the people criticized by Murray (1990), Dennis and Erdos(1992), would in retrospect be happy to be able to free themselves from the poverty line, to be able to gain employment and labelling of single parenthood. Americans and the British struggling on the welfare system unable to see a light at the end of a very long tunnel (gawker.com/hellofromtheunderclass). Murray also stated that, there is an ever increasing black underclass, predominately made up of single mothers and men unwilling to work and criminals. He argued that payments from welfare made lone parenting possible, and encouraged benefit dependency rather than promoting labour earned wages, although Morris (1994) stated that automatic entitlement for welfare did not exist for unemployed people in the United States. Wilson (1997) argued that major shifts in the structure of the American, including the submersion of jobs and the decreasing demand for low skilled labour, contributed to a downward spiral for urban blacks (1987,1996). At the same time jobs where relocating away and the economic base shifted from manufacturing to the service sector, more jobs began requiring formal education and credentials that many inner – city residents lacked. He says that those that have been successful have moved out of the ghetto’s, and leaving those that are unsuccessful behind, he also thought the term ‘underclass’ should be abandoned as it is used to blame disadvantaged individuals for their problems and be changed to the ‘ghetto poor’ (Holborn, Burrage and Langley, 2009). Giddens had a more economic theory view of the underclass. He sees them as workers whom tend to find jobs within the secondary labour market (low paid, in – secure jobs, with few prospects). Employers tend...
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