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Social Underclass - Essay Example

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Summary
The received truth regarding social distinctions with all Western societies in general, and within the United Kingdom in particular, is that there are strict hierarchies with some at the top, a large proportion in the middle and an "underclass" that is hopelessly separated from the rest of society…
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Social Underclass
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Social Underclass

Download file to see previous pages... Taking a situation that is commonly studied with the preconception that it does exist and taking a step back in order to ask whether those preconceptions are based upon reality is a courageous, but ultimately valuable task. Taking a classical anthropological approach, the two authors actually go to the neighborhoods that supposedly hold this disaffected youth, and explore whether they really are "disaffected", "disengaged" and "difficult-to-reach" (McDonald, 2005).
The authors take a logical, chronological approach to studying the youth involved. They start with a discussion of the various opinions that have already been given on this subject in Part One of the youth, called "Transition and Social Exclusion" and then focus in on individual neighborhoods and young people in Part Two, called "Processes of Inclusion and Exclusion". Two contrasting environments that they identify are the "school" and "street corner society" (Macdonald, 2005). In both environments there are what they term as "early processes of engagement and disengagement". The important point here is that an individual young person, as with a community is not entirely "engaged" or "disengaged" but rather may bounce between the two over time. One young person may be engaged at school and yet disengaged within the wider community. Others may be disengaged at school but involved within their community.
Near the end of the Second Part the authors consider the vital period of young adulthood, in which the individual is making the transition to the wider world. They identify what they call "post-16 cyclical transitions" in which young people may find their first job, go on with further training/education, find their own housing and eventually "settle down" (Macdonald, 2005) and marry. The assert the fact that most young people do indeed manage to establish independent and productive lives, however modest or unpromising their backgrounds. They are not caught within a community which it is impossible rise above.
In the Third Part of the book, titled "Conclusions" they argue that while some individuals most certainly are totally disengaged from society, these are in fact few and far between. They do not, so argue the authors, constitute a clearly identifiable "underclass" because individuals vary so much according to their circumstances.
Currently the government in Britain thinks that social class exists in a very real form, and yet seem to agree with the authors of the book in the fact that individuals are not necessarily trapped permanently within their poor backgrounds. A government minister has been appointed whose specific task is to look of the problems caused by social class. Hillary Armstrong is the Cabinet Minister for Social Exclusion. The very existence of this post is telling. The government sees social class as an inherently evil and something that needs to be changed. In a recent speech Hillary Armstrong has stated that she got into politics the columns as a social worker she had seen "that the government intervenes far too late to bring about the kind of positive changes that break the cycle of deprivation of good." (Armstrong, 2005)
New Labor seems to think that the whole of Britain should be a massive middle class through entirely getting rid of poverty and taxing the rich so ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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