Definitions for underclassˈʌn dərˌklæs, -ˌklɑs
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
un•der•class*ˈʌn dərˌklæs, -ˌklɑs(n.)
a social stratum consisting of persons living in persistent poverty and social isolation.
* Usage: See collective noun.
Origin of underclass:
lower class, underclass(adj)
the social class lowest in the social hierarchy
belonging to the lowest and least privileged social stratum
"underclass mothers and children"
the poorest class of people in a given society
The underclass is the segment of the population that occupies the lowest possible position in a class hierarchy, below the core body of the working class. The general idea that a class system includes a population under the working class has a long tradition in the social sciences. However, the specific term "underclass" was popularized during the last half of the 20th century, first by social scientists of American poverty and then by American journalists. The underclass concept has been a point of controversy among social scientists. Definitions and explanations of the underclass, as well as proposed solutions for managing or fixing the "underclass problem," have been highly debated. The appropriateness of using the underclass term has also been questioned, with some social scientists claiming that the concept has been transformed into a codeword for intellectuals to demonize impoverished blacks and Latinos in the urban US.
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