Implicit in much of the debate on the emergence of an underclass or new forms of poverty in modern society are assumptions about the causes of poverty. Once we recognise that poverty exists, then we know as social scientists that it must have a cause (or causes); and if we can identify the cause of poverty, then that should give us a basis to develop a policy response to it. For underclass theorists such as Murray (1990, 1994) poverty is seen as the product of individual weakness or fecklessness. This is a pathological model of social causation, and it implies a policy response that focuses on individuals and seeks to change their attitudes or behaviour — as we shall see in Chapter 15, such policies have been developed in Britain and other advanced industrial countries.
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