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Charles Murray and the Underclass
The Developing Debate

By Charles Murray et al.
Dec. 1996
Institute of Economic Affairs
ISBN: 0-255-36391-5
180 p.
$22.50 Paper Original

Charles Murray is one of America's most respected social policy analysts. His ideas about the underclass, outlined in his classic Losing Ground, 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 social parenting, work and crime, has been explosively controversial. It has also become more difficult to resist, as the deterioration of the social fabric has become increasingly obvious.

In 1989 The Sunday Times brought Charles Murray to Britain to compare the British and US situations. In his article, subsequently published by the IEA as The Emerging British Underclass, Murray described himself as "a visitor from a plague area come to see whether the disease is spreading". In 1993 he returned to check on its progress, and the resulting article , also for the Sunday Times, was published by IEA as Underclass: The Crisis deepens. Both titles were published with commentaries by critics of Murray's thesis, thus presenting the reader with a range of views on the issue.

The success of the underclass titles, particularly as teaching aids in schools and universities, has led to the present omnibus edition which contains all of the original material from both volumes, together with a new introduction by Ruth Lister of Loughborough University and an update of the statistics by Alan Buckingham of the University of Sessex.

Health & Welfare
Series: Choice in Welfare