Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Marilyn C. Krogh
The underclass debate refers to a scholarly and public debate during the 1970s through the 1990s about the origins, character, and appropriate response to the problems of concentrated urban poverty in the United States, particularly among African Americans. The sociologist William Julius Wilson brought attention to this issue in the 1970s and became a central figure in the debate that ensued between those who emphasized the values and choices of low-income people and those who emphasized economic conditions and government policy. This debate helped shape three major policy changes in the United States: the cutback in funding for federal social programs in 1984, the 1996 reform of welfare policy, and the initiation of the HOPE VI mixed-income housing policy by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1992. This debate also spurred a substantial body of empirical research that showed how national and metropolitan-wide processes affect the lives of ...