Sociology Index


Underclass is a term similar to Karl Marx's concept of Lumpenproletariat. Underclass is a group that is not in a regular economic or social relationship with the rest of the community. Underclass refers to the chronically unemployed. Underclass are those who live on the proceeds of petty crime, panhandlers, or bag ladies.

American sociologists use this term since a underclass is could pose a threat to the stability of society because they are not adequately connected to the institutional and cultural regulation.

Myths about Race and the Underclass - Concentrated Poverty and Underclass Behavior
Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Indiana University-Bloomington - Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 31, No. 1, 3-19 (1995).
The view held by academics and policy makers is that underclass behaviors are characteristic of African-American communities. Concern has expanded because the underclass phenomenon has diffused down the urban hierarchy.

Hispanic Women in Texas: An Increasing Portion of the Underclass 
Juanita M. Firestone, Richard J. Harris, University of Texas at San Antonio, Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences.
Attempts to determine whether human capital or cultural explanation provide a viable framework for understanding the experience of Hispanic women in Texas.

Latinos, Poverty, and the Underclass: A New Agenda for Research 
Douglas S. Massey, University of Chicago.
Scholars interested in Hispanic issues ensured that Latinos were included in the debate on the urban underclass. Blacks and Latinos differ in such fundamental ways that the underclass model cannot be employed to understand the social and economic problems of Hispanic groups in the United States.

Thinking about the Underclass: Towards a Political Economy of Policing 
CHRIS CROWTHER, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. - Theoretical Criminology, Vol. 4, No. 2, 149-167 (2000).
Examines the relevance of behavioural and structural versions of the underclass. This article argues that this distinction should be deepened in order to understand the policing of underclass.

The chav phenomenon: Consumption, media and the construction of a new underclass 
Keith Hayward, University of Kent, UK, Majid Yar, University of Kent, UK.
The decline of the underclass discourse in the UK and the rise of the chav are not unconnected. The chav represents a reconfiguration of the underclass idea. The discourse of the underclass turned crucially upon a pathology in the working classes’ relations to production. The concept of the chav is oriented to pathological class dispositions in relation to consumption.

The Family and the Urban Underclass - An Integrative Framework 
ROBERT F. KELLY, Wayne State University.
The underclass treats dependent welfare women and poor urban male criminals as a single social group. The source of the concept is the synthesis of two bodies of economic theory, human capital and dual labor market theory.

Urban Industrial Transition and the Underclass 
JOHN D. KASARDA, Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Underclass blacks are especially handicapped. Jobs requiring only limited education have been increasing in the suburbs, but poorly educated blacks remain residentially constrained in inner-city housing. Policies are suggested to rekindle social mobility in the black underclass.

Puerto Ricans and the Underclass Debate - MARTA TIENDA, University of Chicago.
Data from the Current Population Surveys of 1975, 1980, and 1985 and the 1980 census of population are used to investigate why the economic status of Puerto Ricans has declined in comparison to that of Mexicans and Cubans.

Employment Histories and the Concept of the Underclass - Lydia Morris, Sarah Irwin 
Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 3, 401-420 (1992).
Explores the theoretical and empirical evidence validity of the notion of the underclass. Non-participation in the labour market, and systematic disadvantage in the labour market.

About and Beyond the Underclass: Some Notes on Influences of Social Climate on British Sociology Today - John Westergaard - Sociology, Vol. 26, No. 4, 575-587 (1992)
The influence of fashion and social climate on social speculation. The underclass' notion is a nice example of fashion.

Urban housing and the role of underclass processes: the case of Ireland 
Brian Nolan, Christopher T. Whelan, The Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin 
Journal of European Social Policy, Vol. 10, No. 1, 5-21 (2000)
Measuring directly the social-psychological factors which are hypothesized to mediate the underclass process. A significantly higher level of poverty is found in urban public-sector tenant households.

The creation of a new underclass in China and its implications 
Dorothy J Solinger, Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University; University of California.
The new urban underclass in China is a major challenge confronting the Communist Party.

The Underclass, 'Social Isolation' and 'Concentration Effects' 
The culture of poverty revisited - Andrew H. Maxwell, Department of Anthropology, Montclair State College. 
The development of new concepts such as William Julius Wilson's 'social isolation' and 'concentration effects'. The conceptual foundations of Wilson's view of 'the underclass'.