The Biological Inferiority of the Undeserving Poor
Social Work & Society vol. 11, issue 1 (2013)
9 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2013
Date Written: December 15, 2013
This article excavates the definition of poor people as biologically inferior. It not only documents its persistence over time but emphasizes three themes. First, the concept rises and falls in prominence in response to institutional and programmatic failure. It offers a convenient explanation for why the optimist of reformers proved illusory or why social problems remained refractory despite efforts to eliminate them. Second, its initial formulation and reformulation rely on bridging concepts that try to parse the distance between heredity and environment. Third, hereditarian ideas always have been supported by the best science of the day.
Keywords: poverty, undeserving poor, heredity, biology, social reform
JEL Classification: I30, I32, I39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation