The concept of an "underclass" departs from previous determinations of social class based on criteria of education, occupation, and income in favor of the more subjective and less quantifiable criteria of the degree of social dislocation and the departure of a population from middle class norms and values. A study reviews current definitions of "the underclass"; contrasts this class description with "the poor" in the 60's and before; and suggests that "the underclass" is a pejorative label which has the effect of "blaming the victim", and has negative implications for the formulation of public policy directed toward the population thus labeled.

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