The idea that Britain, the US and other western societies are witnessing the rise of an underclass of people at the bottom of the social heap, structurally and culturally distinct from traditional patterns of `decent' working-class life, has become increasingly popular in the 1990s. Anti-work, anti-social, and welfare dependent cultures are said to typify this new `dangerous class' and `dangerous youth' are taken as the prime subjects of underclass theories. Debates about the family and single-parenthood, about crime and about unemployment and welfare reforms have all become embroiled in underclass theories which, whilst highly controversial, have had remarkable influence on the politics and policies of governments in Britain and the US.
Youth, the 'Underclass' and Social Exclusion constitutes the first concerted attempt to grapple with the underclass idea in relation to contemporary youth. It focuses upon unemployment, training, the labour market, crime, homelessness, and parenting and will be essential reading for students of social policy, sociology and criminology.
Robert MacDonald is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Teesside
'A useful and stimulating collection of papers which will be of immediate interst to any criminal justice practitioner with young people ... makes vivid and sobering reading and is much to be recommended.' - Labour Campaign for Criminal Justic Newsletter
'A timely addition to the "underclass" debate ... particularly useful for students seeking a general collection addressing issues faced by young people. I found the book successful in challenging my own 'knee-jerk' rejection of the "underclass" concept as politically dangerous.' - Journal of Youth Studies
'Useful for the range of methodologies and evidence it deploys to analyse and debate the appropriateness, or otherwise, of the concept of an underclass in relationship to British youth.' - Journal of Social Policy
'The work presented here serves to establish a framework from which youth researchers can develop both theoretically and empirically; it is a valuable contribution to both the contemporary debate on the underclass and social exclusion, as well as the sociology of youth.' - Sociology Vol 32:2 May 1998
'This volume is highly recommended for all classes of reader: to raise consciousness, among undergraduates and their teachers of the important of conceptual analysis in sociology and of a reasoned use of empirical data that is entirely lacking in the pre-digested pap of mass-marketed undergraduate textbook; as a rich source of new hypotheses for active researchers; as a reminder to policy makers and practitioners of the co-ordinated diversity of interventions needed to combat economic and social marginalisation; and as a reminder to politicians and the press across the political spectrum that it's time to understand a little more and to condemn a little less.' - Policy Studies Vol 19:2 1998
'This is a vital contribution to the debates around youth and social exclusions. It is well written, focused and intensely challenging of mainstream discourses on youth.' - Edge Hill University College, UK