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Abstract

Debate about underclass conceptualization has once again forced sociologists to acknowledge the political context and implications of our work. This article extends the critical examination of underclass conceptualization to relatively undeveloped but politically important areas of concern. Initially we discuss the political economic context of conceptual controversies surrounding poverty. With a preference for structural analysis, we call for the return of class to economically marginalized people and suggest how that goal might be enhanced by a focus on relations of distribution as well as production. Valuing subjects' vantage points, we recommend how sociologists' work can return agency and diversity to economically marginalized people. Finally, acknowledging the agency of sociologists, we call for greater attention to the implications of our class positions for how we, too, make history, either by intention or default.

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