Using Accounts That You Are Familiar With Examine And Assess Sociological Explanations Of The Underclass.

1070 words - 4 pages

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 for high crime rates and low workforce numbers. Murray believed that the members of the underclass were victims of their own distinctive class values, there exists a culture of dependency as the welfare benefits are too generous, they act as a dis-incentive to work and encourage teenage pregnancy and the consequent crime and deviance that occurs, as single parents fail to control their children. Murray was also concerned about the high economic costs of one parent families with regard to welfare payments and benefit fraud, his idea to counterbalance this growing trend would be to introduce minimal welfare, this encourages people to stand on their own two feet and would promote getting employment as a positive gain.Peter Saunders (1990) suggests that the underclass is a distinct group which lives in the inner cities on council estates and subscribe to a certain way of life which is made up of deviant values and norms. These values are based around the selfishness of the single-being and consist of being work-shy, being welfare dependent, lacking commitment to family life and engaging in criminality. He puts forward the claim that that these values are reproduced into the next generation as the...

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