Poverty and Dependency
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Poverty and Dependency

America, 1950s to the Present

John Macnicol

This incisive book addresses the history of poverty in the US, addressing how those in need have been understood and administered during the last 70 years. Launching a multi-faceted investigation into the history of US government attitudes to welfare, John Macnicol identifies the key features of historic and contemporary discussions on poverty in the US and the dynamic changes in American attitudes to its poorest constituents.
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Chapter 5: Charles Murray and the underclass

John Macnicol


The leading figure in the US conservative movement has been Charles Murray, and this chapter describes his upbringing and background, including his early years in Thailand and the similarities between his views and those of an earlier conservative, Edward Banfield. Murray’s recruitment and rise to fame with the publication of his most famous book, Losing Ground (1984), is analysed. A detailed critique of the book is provided, together with an account of reactions by expert commentators. Murray’s sponsored visit to the UK is described, and then his continued maintenance of the idea of an ‘underclass’ against a background of its decline in public popularity.

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