Over the last two decades "poverty" has moved centrestage as an issue within the social sciences. This volume, edited by one of Europe's foremost sociologists, aims to assess the debates surrounding poverty and the responses to it, exploring the ways in which the various socio-political systems and welfarist regimes are being radically transformed. The essays examine how such change is effected by failing welfare programmes and enervating social structures such as family and community which once would have provided mechanisms of social stability.The first part of the book provides reflections on urban poverty; the second part discusses the widely debated idea of an "underclass" and its meanings in Europe and in the USA, and the final part draws on concrete empirical analyses to examine the patterns of poverty thoughout Western Europe.This volume will be of first-rate importance to all serious students of politics, sociology, geography, public policy, youth and community studies, social policy and American studies.

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