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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‘.

Underclass front cover

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.

2 comments on “Charles Murray and the Underclass now out on Amazon Kindle”

  1. Peter Davey :In October 1999, there was an article in the Sunday Telegraph, based on an interview with the then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham.
    In the course of his duties, Sir David had visited all of the dozen or so Young Offender Institutions in this country, and was struck by the large number of “very bright” teenagers he found in them – victims, as he saw it, of an educational system that failed to meet their needs, leaving them bored and frustrated, all to easy to turn to anti-social behaviour.
    In the runup to the last election, the former Conservative Education Minister, George Walden, wrote a series of articles in the Times and Telegraph, protesting at the way in which the leaders of all three parties were opposed to selection in education, whilst ensuring that their own children escaped the consequences of their policies.
    If you become violent, disruptive, etc, due to poor parenting, poverty, etc people will demand action.
    If you become violent, disruptive, etc due to high intelligence, it will be considered “elitist” to even try to meet your needs.
    Until society is willing to face this contradiction, I cannot see hope for long-term improvement.

  2. In October 1999, there was an article in the Sunday Telegraph, based on an interview with the then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham.

    In the course of his duties, Sir David had visited all of the dozen or so Young Offender Institutions in this country, and was struck by the large number of “very bright” teenagers he found in them – victims, as he saw it, of an educational system that failed to meet their needs, leaving them bored and frustrated, all to easy to turn to anti-social behaviour.

    In the runup to the last election, the former Conservative Education Minister, wrote a series of articles in the Times and Telegraph, protesting at the way in which the leaders of all three parties were opposed to selection in education, whilst ensuring that their own children escaped the consequences of their policies.

    If you become violent, disruptive, etc, due to poor parenting, poverty, etc people will demand action.

    If you become violent, disruptive, etc due to high intelligence, it will be considered “elitist” to even try to meet your needs.

    Until society is willing to face this contradiction, I cannot see hope for long-term improvement.

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