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University of Toronto St. George
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

GGR 254 USA Geography Lecture 8 Nov. 15, 2010 URBAN UNDERCLASS Questions: What is the urban underclass? What are its geographic implications? What is the underclass? -Popular and conservative idea Social pathology Culture of poverty Charles Murray Particular group of people that are not functioning the way they should in American society underclass (Conservative perspective) -What is the problem in this view? Behaviour not poverty they do not take responsibility of their own behaviour; not society but individual Welfare dependency bc of high rates of unemployment They are the forces that created their own situation underclass Lawrence Mead -Liberal response to conservative view Those outside the occupational system: persons who are weakly connected to the formal labor forces and those social context tends to maintain or further weaken their attachment (Van Reitsma, 1989) Bc these people are outside the main stream of society bc they are unemployable they are driven to street crime bc they do not have the skill Similar to conservative but they understand it as a social problem and not individual Concentration: growing share living in extreme poverty Social isolation: groups....left behind (Wilson 1987) Society has moved on without them; they are victims of the forces of capitalist growth W. J. Wilson -Term has several disadvantages Pejorative Some people do not like this term bc its against some particular racial or ethnic groups of people Lumps together too many things people, places, education, family structure, drug problems etc...chaotic idea Conflates cause and effect where does the actual analysis stop? What came first poverty or the underclass? -But it has some advantages Focus on structure Links family, race, class and place useful way; how can we understand why people live in American ghettos Raises importance of policy One can try to understand the reason this structure of the underclass
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