The term underclass was first introduced in social science literature in the 1960s by the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal. In his book Challenge to Affluence, Myrdal employed the term as a descriptive device to discuss who he believed would be the greatest victims of deindustrialization in late-20th-century societies. His did so in his effort to assess the implications of societal shifts from extreme reliance upon manufacturing and other industrially based economic sectors to the kind of white-collar, professional service arenas that typify the contemporary world of work. In the 2 decades following Myrdal's work, the term was essentially dormant in social science scholarship. By the 1980s, however, the term urban underclass was used to define the most socioeconomically marginalized sector of urban society. The term ...

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