Charles Murray and the Underclass now out on Amazon Kindle
nick cowen, 8 March 2012
Charles Murray is one of America’s most respected social policy analysts. His ideas about the underclass, outlined in his classic Losing Ground, and re-examined more recently in Coming Apart, have entered the mainstream of the debate about poverty. Murray’s thesis, that the underclass represents not a degree of poverty but a type of poverty, characterised by deviant attitudes towards parenting, work and crime, has been explosively controversial. However, some aspects of his thesis have become more difficult to resist, especially in the wake of the August 2011 riots, which Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke blamed on a lawless ‘feral underclass‘.
As social policy increasingly focusses on tackling the multiple needs of individuals now labelled NEETs (those Not in Employment, Education or Training), one of Murray’s key predictions appears to have been confirmed:
After a few more years, quietly and without anyone having to admit he had been wrong, the intellectual conventional wisdom in Britain as in the United States will undergo a gradual transition. After all the statistical artifacts are taken into account and argued over, it will be decided that England is indeed becoming a more dangerous place in which to live: that this unhappy process is not occurring everywhere, but disproportionately in particular types of neighbourhoods; and that those neighbourhoods turn out to be the ones in which an underclass is taking over. Reality will once again force theory to its knees.
Charles Murray and the Underclass: The Developing Debate is the definitive discussion of the ‘underclass’ as it applies to British social policy.