Insightful and engaging, Welfare Words provides a critical analysis of social work and social policy in its articulation and discussion of a number of significant words and phrases. Written by an authoritative voice in the field, Paul Michael Garrett makes sense of complex theories which codify everyday experience, giving students and practitioners vital tools to better understand and change their social worlds. Lucid and accessible in style, Garrett offers an innovative approach to the study of Social Welfare, encouraging readers to think critically about the key issues in social work and social policy, including welfare dependency, social inclusion and exclusion, underclasses, anti-social behaviour, and more.



Underclass – a subordinate social class; the lowest social stratum in a country or community, consisting of the poor and the unemployed. (Oxford English Dictionary)


At odds with contemporary references to underclass, John Maclean (1879–1923), the Scottish revolutionary socialist, used the word in a very different way in 1918. He spoke of a society moving forward as a ‘consequence of an under-class overcoming the resistance of a class on top of them’. Turning to the use of underclass by social scientists, the OED mentions Gunnar Myrdal (1898–1987), the Swedish Nobel laureate economist, sociologist, and politician who, in Challenge to Affluence (Myrdal, 1963), stated that technological ...

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