Module Leader Keith Edwards Social Policy Essay

Charles Murray was invited to England in 1990 to detect and detect if there was an lower class phenomenon in the United Kingdom similar to the 1 he had identified in the United States.

The Sunday times published the consequences of his probe on the 26th of November 1989, and subsequently on it was republished by the conservative party commission of experts ( the Institute for Economic Affairs, IEA ) as the emerging British Underclass. In these paperss Murray demonstrated that: “ Britain does hold an lower class, still mostly out of sight and still smaller than the 1 in the United States. But it is turning quickly.

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” ( Murray, 1990: 3 ) .In his survey the lower class is described by the frequence of the undermentioned elements: Illegitimate births, high offense rates ( peculiarly violent offense ) and drop-out from the labor market. This is supported by Murray ‘s quotation mark saying that: “ If illicit births are the prima index of an lower class and violent offense a proxy step of its development, the unequivocal cogent evidence that an lower class has arrived is that big Numberss of immature, healthy, low-income males choose non to take occupations.

” ( 1990: 17 ) .However Murray disagrees strongly about some of the findings of the commission of experts which stated that “ in communities without male parents, the childs tend to run wild.. Children holding no set bedtime. … being left entirely in the house at dark while ma goes out.

… an 18-month-old yearling allowed to play in the street ” ( 1990: 12, accent added ) . He disagreed because he thinks that the types of jobs named earlier are non alone to individual parents but alternatively he stated that research workers should alternatively “ talk to parents who have lived in both sorts of communities. Ask them whether there is any difference in child-raising between a vicinity composed largely of married twosomes and a vicinity composed largely of individual female parents.

… the overpowering response is that the difference is big and tangible. The key to an lower class is non the single case but a state of affairs in which a really big proportion of an full community lacks male parents, and this is far more common in hapless communities than in rich 1s. ” ( Murray, 1990: 12-13 ) .

This research program is based on Murray ‘s challenge, and the research inquiry is: “ Is there a important difference between married twosomes and individual female parents vis-a-vis to child upbringing? ”


Charles Murray ‘s underclass thesis, briefly outlined in the Introduction, is representative of a new moving ridge of conservative discourse about the hapless. It is a behavioral, instead than socio-structural attack, in that it defines the lower class in footings of single behavior in much the same manner as Henry Mayhew ( 1862 ) defined the ‘dishonest ‘ , or undeservingpoor in the nineteenth century. This attack exonerates the civil order and the economic system of any duty for the “ conditions which have led to huge Numberss of people being consigned to structural unemployment, poorness and marginalization. “ ( Woolner, 2000b:18 ) . Such stepping down of duty, nevertheless, is non without its effects ; as noted by Zygmunt Bauman: “ Whenever certain individuals or classs of people are denied the right to our moral duty, they are treated as ‘lesser worlds ‘ , ‘flawed worlds ‘ , ‘not to the full human ‘ , or downright ‘non-human ‘ . ” ( Bauman, 1990: 138 ) , with potentially desperate effects for the societal order.

( Gans, 1990 ; Woolner, 1999 ) .


From the predating reappraisal of the literature it can be seen that Murray ‘s thesis represents a positive attack, concentrating on the attitudes and behaviors of single histrions and disregarding the significance they attach to their actions, to the exclusion of the wider societal construction. This is a nonreversible focal point on the function of informal societal control within the household, disregarding the influences of unfairnesss within the other societal establishments, such as the civil order and the economic system, and the cardinal function played by the formal bureaus of control, the constabulary and the condemnable justness system. Such a nonreversible focal point is seen as inadequate in turn toing the issue of young person offense in a research study produced for the UK Home Office by Graham and Bowling, who note:“ …

it is known that intercessions which focus entirely on one peculiar sphere ( eg the place ) or one histrion ( the kid or the parent ) do non look to be effectual in the long term ( …

) , it would look that an effectual criminalism bar scheme must besides widen into countries outside the household. ” ( Graham and Bowling, 1995: 88 ; see besides Young, 1999 ) . The theoretical model of the proposed research is that of left pragmatism ( Young, 1997 ) , which does non see the person or the household as independent of the wider society ( Currie, 1985 ) , and perceives the societal establishments referred to above as being inter-dependent and inter-related ( Rosenfeld and Messner, 1995 ) .



In line with Murray ‘s challenge to travel out and inquire parents, it is proposed to carry on this research undertaking utilizing qualitative methods which, harmonizing to Marshall and Rossman, “ have become progressively of import manners of enquiry for the societal scientific disciplines ” ( 1995: 1 ) . Data will be collected via semi-structured interviews since, as noted by Nigel Fielding: “ Whenever we are acquiring our bearings, whether it is as a research worker or a new reaching in a foreign land, the quickest, most natural method is to inquire a inquiry. ” ( 1993: 135 ) . Since the research worker is non a parent herself, she may competently be described as a “ new reaching in a foreign land ” .

A qualitative design is chosen over a quantitative process despite the fact that a questionnaire could be devised for a study to mensurate rearing patterns along the lines identified by Murray, that is the extent of supervising, set bed and repast times and parental engagement in instruction. Such a process, nevertheless, would neglect to derive an apprehension of what such patterns mean to the respondents, what theyinvolve, and arguably what factors may extenuate against enforcement of such patterns in the existent universe of the parents themselves or, to set it another manner, theprocedureof rearing. The intent of the qualitative attack is, as noted by Lofland: “ .

.. to happen out what sorts of thingsarego oning instead than to find the frequence of preset sorts of things that the research worker already believescanhappen. ” ( Lofland, 1971: 76, cited in Fielding, N, 1993: 137, accent added ) .The interviews will besemi-standardised as opposed tonon-standardised in order to guarantee that the issues ( referred to above ) raised by Murray are covered in each interview. However, it is anticipated that a broad assortment of issues related to rearing patterns may be revealed by the respondents themselves in the class of the survey and the semi-standardised attack offers the chance “ to arouse rich, elaborate stuffs that can be used in qualitative analysis ” ( Lofland, 1971: 76, cited in Fielding, N, 1993: 137 ) .Wherever possible, interviews will be taped, in conformity with the advice of Nigel Fielding ( 1993 ) , and because, as noted by Williams: “ taking handwritten notes during a conversation warps treatment and inhibits the flow of words ” ( 1990 ) . Notes will, nevertheless, be taken as a safety step “ in the event that the recording equipment fails ” ( Creswell, 1994: 152 ) .

Transcription will take topographic point every bit early as possible after each interview in order to place emerging subjects that may be good to future interviews. Whilst, as noted by Nigel Fielding, “ direct written text is… arduous and time-consuming [ it ] offers the advantage that all possible analytic utilizations are allowed for ” ( 1993: 146 ) . Although written text of taped interviews can be a dearly-won exercising, the research worker is a professional shorthand/typist and can set about this undertaking herself, offering the benefit of listening through the interview once more, which will heighten the possibility of placing emerging subjects.

Data Collection

Whilst it is implied in the challenge that the research should be directed merely to married parents, and so to parents, this would earnestly skew the informations in favor of Murray ‘s thesis, since at the present clip there has been a media-led moral terror about teenage parentage and public assistance dependence, fuelled no uncertainty by Murray ‘s ain work. Alternatively, it is proposed to choose a sample of both married parents populating together and individual female parents populating entirely, and interview them about their child-rearing patterns. A lodging estate in a hapless country North London has been identified as being composed of a mixture of married twosomes with kids and individual female parents. This was identified through contacts populating on the estate who are actively involved in the local community, running a young person nine and female parent and yearling group. It is intended that every bit many people as possible will be interviewed, and it is hoped that a sample of 30 will be identified, every bit divided between individual female parents raising kids entirely, and married twosomes sharing parental duties.

In this respect it must be noted that the presence of both biological parents in the place does non connote that they are every bit or actively involved in rearing their kids ( see for illustration Connell, 1987 ; Friedan, 1963 ; Segal, 1997 ) . In add-on, of class, individual parents may be having considerable support in their parenting undertaking from parents, relations and friends, and even from absent biological male parents and their households.Respondents will be interviewed, face-to-face, by the research worker in their ain places or in the community Centre office, to which the research worker has secured entree for the intent, depending on their penchant. They will be assured of complete confidentiality and namelessness and an account of the survey will be done including the grounds.The research worker will offer the respondents a transcript of Murray ‘s ( 2000 ) article in The Sunday Times to explicate the context of the research and to arouse their positions on its content.

A clip bound is non being placed on the interviews, since it is felt that respondents should be allowed to speak and portion their experiences at their ain gait. They will be questioned in an informal, non-judgemental mode, about the issues identified by Murray, for illustration whether their kids have regular repast and bed times, what agreements are made for supervising when the parent ( s ) are out at dark, whether kids are allowed to play in the street. In add-on other indexs based on a reappraisal of the literature on parental engagement and juvenile delinquency ( mentioned above ) , such as aid with prep, attending at school for parent eventides, and the sum of telecasting kids are allowed to watch.

But, for illustration, whereas the inquiry “ Who minds the kidswhenyou go out at dark? ” may be interpreted as judgemental, an alternate attack would be to inquire “ Do you acquire out much in the eventides? “ , and so, based on the response, probe the issue of babysitting agreements. Questions associating to the employment position of the parent ( s ) will besides be included to set up any possible parenting jobs, in the perceptual experience of the respondents, associated with full- , parttime, orUnited Nations-employment.In return for the debuts and entree afforded to her by contacts on the estate, the research worker has offered her aid in running the female parent and yearling group for two forenoons and the young person nine for one eventide, giving her an chance to detect kids ‘s behavior foremost manus. In add-on she has agreed to word procedure one issue of the quarterly community centre newssheet.

Datas analysis

If the upper limit of 30 respondents is achieved, a considerable volume of interview transcripts is anticipated. This will be subjected to manual analysis, in the first case, in order to place emerging subjects and associate these to issues identified in the literature, in the procedure of developing a ‘grounded theory ‘ ( Strauss and Corbin, 1990, cited in Creswell, 1994 ) .

Ethical Issues

Issues identified as potentially debatable from an ethical point of position centre around prosecuting with Murray ‘slower classtheory at all. Gans ( 1990 ) , for illustration, warns of the dangers of the very termlower class, with its racial undertones ( particularly in America ) , and its impression of underservingness. Gans is concerned that societal policy shapers, and contrivers, will get down to bring forth policies and programs around an alleged lower class, ensuing in increased marginalization, possibly even retreating services from people so defined.

If the consequences of the research findings were taken as cogent evidence that there are in fact differences in rearing patterns, which favour the traditional normative criterion household theoretical account ( Connell, 1987: 121 ) over individual parents, so it might ensue in policies, like those that exist in some States in the US, where benefits are withdrawn from individual female parents on the birth of their 2nd kid, coercing adult females to abort, for illustration ; or districting policies like those implied by Murray that:“ . ..

make it every bit easy as possible for people who portion values to populate together. If people in one vicinity think matrimony is an antique establishment, fine ; allow them run their vicinity as they see fit. But do it easy for the twosome who thinks otherwise to travel into a vicinity where two-parent households are valued. ” ( Murray, 1990: 34 ) .

However, by taking a socio-structural attack to analyzing the informations such as that taken by William Julius Wilson ( 1987, noted above ) , instead than an individualistic, behavioral attack, it is anticipated that this job will be overcome when composing up the research study.


This research undertaking is limited by both clip restraints and deficiency of resources, in that it must be conducted over a six-month tirneframe by a individual research worker, moving entirely. These restrictions badly restrict the size of the sample population and restrict the undertaking to a individual societal lodging estate in North London. In position of this, the findings of the research are improbable to be representative of the full UK population.

The research worker is confident, nevertheless, that such restrictions will in no manner decrease the importance of the undertaking, which has the possible to supply a design for future countrywide research into issues of rearing patterns and poorness, in visible radiation of Murray ‘s continued presence on our national phase.