Murray Underclass

An increase in the number of jobs available wouldn’t reduce unemployment or the underclass though as these unemployed illegitimate criminals don’t want jobs as receiving benefits is a far more attractive alternative option. Not surprisingly Murray’s views on the welfare state and the underclass attracted many criticisms, many of whom believe that the welfare state does not provide an underclass. In terms of illegitimacy J. Brown (In Murray, C. 1993:61) points out that Murray merely picked out the statistics he wanted to support his one sided arguments on illegitimacy, who choose not to work, marry and be dependent upon long term benefits.

Whereas 25% if single mothers work part-time, they actually spend less time on benefits than widowed and divorced mother do and 60% if single mothers remarried by the time their child is 5 yr. old and 70% of them are married when the child is ages 7 yr. old, (Ermisch in Murray, C. 1993:63) therefore there are no a wave of children with no role models in terms of a father figure.

Deakin (In Murray, C. 1993:75) further more supports Browns argument by suggesting that illegitimacy rates have not increased because of the welfare state but because there has been a decline in the popularity of marriage.

If you cut benefits as Murray implies then single mothers will be forced to stay dependent upon them , with no means to go back to work or to find a job and if they did work when their child is still a baby and very dependent on the carer they would be seen as a bad mother.

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It seems that it is a vicious crucial, cutting benefits leads to problems and having benefits leads to an underclass! How the welfare state promotes violent crime is bizarre to even suggest I feel, how can welfare increase crime, what benefits do criminals get from the welfare state? My opinion is supported by Deakin (In Murray.

C, 1993:76) as a completely flawed correlation, Murray’s use of British Crime Statistics actually ‘forces the theory to it knees’ (ibid. ). Crime maybe inter-related with illegitimacy and unemployment but it doesn’t increase because of the welfare state directly. Field, to a certain extent agreed with Murray in terms of the welfare state encouraging unemployment. Trying to get the young disillusioned unemployed worker back into work is a mammoth problematic task, YTS schemes and the new deal are not popular and are only a mere feasible attempt to address the problems created by the welfare state Murray might argue.

YTS schemes are unpopular and unsuccessful in getting people back into work as they are just forms of ‘slave labour’, they seek to blame the victim or there own poverty and misfortunes very much like the Victorian Middle Class of the 18/19th century did, many people have little choice in their own making and are forced by uncontrollable circumstances to become unemployed and part of an illegitimate family, Walker (In Murray.

C, 1993:69). The weight of Murray’s argument and its criticisms it seems to suggest that welfare does not create an underclass to the extent that Murray believed. His ideas tend to be focused upon the moralising agenda of the underclass, where he refers to a type of poverty rather than to the degree of poverty that the underclass experience.

He only focuses upon social welfare creating an underclass and ignores fiscal and occupational welfare, maybe he didn’t believe these were responsible for creating an underclass or was it a case of those who are dependent upon these forms of welfare are generally the Middle Classes and these Middle Classes only use certain forms of social welfare such as the NHS and education and are not supcitible to a decline in their moral/values like the Working Class and underclass who use these forms of welfare?

It is not the case that the welfare state is the cause of the underclass rather how the term underclass is perceived which depends whether you are part of the so called ‘underclass’ or ‘overclass’ (Walker in Murray. C, 1993:71) which relates back to the problem of such a strong derogatory term as ‘underclass’ so much so that it is an unhelpful concept that cannot explain its own emergence in the welfare state of Britain.

But even in today’s government Tony Blair has been influenced by Murray’s theory of an underclass in the welfare state by stating that the ‘underclass are set apart from the mainstream of society’ pointing to the need to re-moralise the underclass/poor, what then for the future of the welfare state and the underclass? If Britain took literally and followed the inhumane radical suggestions of Murray would it necessarily make the underclass dependent? Looking back in history to Victorian times, where welfare was far from generous-but a deterrent for idleness, why was there a growing Working Class or underclass growing out of control?

In line with Murray’s seemingly Victorian attitude to poverty is the fact that he focuses upon the fact that poverty is the fault of the underclass in terms of their behaviour which diverts the attention away form the view that the phenomenon f the underclass could be caused by the failure of the economic and labour market polices and be a result of political causes mot that they are the ones making the wrong moral choices (Alcock. P, in Murray. C, 1993:140)

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Murray Underclass. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Murray Underclass
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