Using accounts that you are familiar with examine and assess sociological explanations of the underclass.

Essay by croftylofty February 2007

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The idea of an underclass is controversial; the term is used by some sociologists to define a group of people at the bottom of society's class system which is seen as being disadvantaged. Sociologists who believe that there is a need for the term to be used are in disagreement as to whether the underclass exist as part of the working class or if they are a separate, lower level of society. There is also some disagreement as to who to blame for the reoccurring generations in this class group.

Oscar Lewis (1966) argued that some people respond to their position at the bottom of the stratification system by forming subcultures in which poverty has become their way of life and they then crate their own values system to contribute to this fact, these values that are held are passed down from each generation to the next through socialization, the children then internalise these values and are unable to take advantage of any opportunities that may occur in their lifetime.

Charles Murray (1990) developed a New Right underclass theory based on the findings of Lewis and his belief that that there was a culture of welfare dependency within the underclass system. Murray suggested that single parents were at the heart of the problem as they were enforcing their children with ideals of an anti-education culture and argues that the main culprits of this are black single parent families who are not committed to mainstream values and consequently fail to value education, instead their values were based around voluntary unemployment, claiming benefits and crime. He based his views on observations he had made in the USA, and predicted that a similar trend was beginning in Britain. His findings focused ton the off-spring of single mothers, and found that they were responsible...