Class Notes (1,200,000)
CA (650,000)
UTSG (50,000)
Geography (500)


Course Code
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

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Nov. 11th, 2009
The Urban Underclass
1. What is the underclass?
2. Homelessness
3. Poverty
1. What is the underclass(look at slide)
Charles Murray/Lawrence Mead=both wrote very important books on class and they wrote books which
attempted to try and understand the underclass as a phenomenon in contemporary america/both are
right wing I.e. like stephen harper equivalent in Canada
They argued that there was a growing population in american citites who were becoming a permanent
And that this growing minority were at the lower end of the social scale , and were extremely poor and the
created a culture of poverty
They thought that the poor were responsible for their own poverty=culture poverty
L.A. riots=these people are able to be living in these conditions because they depend on welfare/they take
advantage of the state
They argued that since the 1960s that people were taking advantage of the welfare state and were taking
These two men were very influential and their ideas were taken into account by people like Ronald reagan
W.J. Wilson(look at slide)
He wrote a book that attempted to deal with some of the ideas thrown out by murrary
He was an extremely important scholar
He attempted to rethink what it means to be in the underclass
They also argued that also because of all sorts of changes taking part in america that there was a growing
share of those experience poverty in america and that it was because of the structure of american
economy/society that caused poverty(fundamental difference between people on the left/right)
Wilson said that this group is becoming socialy isolated in particular parts of the city and that theses groups
outside of the main occupational system that they are becoming marganalized
What is the underclass?(slide with term)
Some argue that the word underclass is a negative word
It really is far to descriptive but not analytical
The rich teach their kids to be rich the poor to be poor(cause and effected)
But there are also good reasons why we should use this term
One reason is because it focuses on the economic and social structure(I.e. whats happening in the economy
to cause)
It also links race family class and place=the underclass is a way in which we can understand how those
factors play out in space
Policy=how do wer go about making policy to make the world a better place
What is underclass?(slide with cartoon)
Family structure=an increasing number of the poor are families headed by single mothers which has
increased the number of poverty
Racsim against minorites both in the housing and employment
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