Gender related issues are ever present in conceptualisations of the underclass, and though rarely directly addressed the differential treatment of men and women in debate usually connects in some way with established views of socially appropriate roles and behaviour. This ultimately results in an unresolved ambiguity concerning society’s expectations of its citizens. Malthus, for example, placed a lesser responsibility on women in his moral condemnation of the ‘redundant population’, seeing them as the ‘more virtuous half of society’, and as men’s uncomplaining supporters. In other work, however, women appear-usually as prostitutes-among the social outcasts of a ‘residuum’, defined largely in terms of moral failure, as for example in Mayhew’s category of ‘those that will not work’. For Mayhew ‘prostitution is the putting of anything to a vile use…the base perversion of a woman’s charms, the surrendering of her virtue to criminal indulgence’ (quoted in Himmelfarb, 1984:341). He was writing at a time when the developing gender ideology placed upon women a responsibility for the moral education of the next generation. In this schema the ‘essential nature’ of women was strongly associated with a domestic and socialising role: ‘The moral influence of woman upon man’s character and domestic happiness [was] mainly attributable to her natural and instinctive habits’ (Peter Gaskell, 1833, quoted in Poovey, 1989:7). By the end of the nineteenth century even the poverty studies placed strong emphasis on the mother’s role both as moral educator and as budget manager, each role offering a potential solution to poverty.