Taking the perspective of a European explorer seeing the New World, describe your initial thoughts. What shocks, concerns, or excites you the most?
His arguments were welcomed by the then Conservative Government who had already vowed to roll back the welfare state. Claiming themselves to be the party of the family (Giddens, 2001) they agreed with Murray that those who did not work should not have children. Those who did have children out of wedlock and could not support them should have their benefits stopped and be forced to give their children up for adoption. Throughout the 1990s this view was espoused by a number of British politicians who aired their views on television debating shows. Although this did not happen, successive Governments have tightened their hold on benefits purse strings and made life much harder for those who have to live on welfare benefits. This had further repercussions in policy making in the UK. The Housing Act of 1996 was seen by many as a result of these debates and deleted some groups from local authority housing lists those people e.g. single mothers, who had been a priority when it came to local authority housing allocation, thus reducing the responsibility towards the homeless for local authorities. It also brought in the Single Persons Homeless Register, thus reducing responsibility for those who would have been seen as in priority need (Bramley et al, 2005). During this time increased unemployment left large numbers dependent on benefits. The number of those who are long-term unemployed also rose. Social changes and successive government policies has widened the gap between rich and poor. Field (1996) has argued that the actions of the Conservative Government in targeting benefits through means testing, actually increased welfare dependency and put people into an inescapable poverty trap. Field further maintains that these policies were a major factor in the development of an underclass in Britain. However, in Field’s view the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Thatcher and Major governments. The Underclass and Ethnicity Some of Murray’s views might be considered racist, in that he claims that black people are less intelligent than whites and black women are more likely to have illegitimate children and live on benefits. Giddens supports Murray’s ideas of an underclass and (albeit for market reasons rather than the reasons given by Murray) also argues that a dual labour market is in operation and as a result of discrimination the underclass contains a high proportion of people from ethnic minorities. Much of what he has to say pre-empts Murray’s work as it was written in 1973. Where ethnic differences serves as a disqualifying market capacity, such that those in the category are heavily concentrated in the lowest paid occupations, or are chronically unemployed or self-employed, we may speak of the existence of and underclass (Giddens, 1973:112). Gaillie (1994) has questioned the arguments of Murray and Giddens. He disputes the idea that the underclass develops a specific culture and maintains that there is little evidence to support the existence of a dual labour market. He does however, acknowledge that the position of many people in the labour market has been weakened to the point where they are working for slave wages. While this does tend to support the existence of an underclass, Gaillie refutes the notion that such groups are forming either a class or a culture. Murray’s Later Work Writing in 1999 Murray observed that unemployment among young males was much higher than ten years earlier. He disputes the findings of others when he maintains that there was no evidence to suggest that this was the result of a shrinking market. He cites a rise in crime rates, particularly violent crime as further evidence that an underclass sin Britain is developing in the same way as in America. These figures are however disputed by other theorists who would argue that although the crime rate is high it has been on a downturn. He also refers again to the number of single parent families, but figures in Britain evidence that the majority of single parent families are that way as a result of divorce or the death of a partner, rather than the never married single mother. Some of what Murray has to say takes little account of other social problems that may contribute to people living on the margins of society. Some of the groups that Murray refers to might be said to be socially excluded, but this is not the same thing as an underclass. Social Exclusion>GET ANSWER