Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Listening to white working class views of neighbourhood, cohesion and change

Before you begin reading this do an image search for "White Working Class"

This is the first image that presents itself and the rest are fairly depressing.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is "an independent organisation working to inspire social change through research, policy and practice," and their site is well worth spending some time browsing.

Here's one of their pieces of research on White Working Class communities, completed in 2011. How might these findings have changed in the last 5 years? UKIP is defunct after it's moment of glory in 2012 when 691 UKIP candidates in the May 2012 local elections. They won 13% of the vote. Many of these voters used to be traditional Labour voters; pre-2012 were they voting for Socialist society values or for their own individual prosperity?

Whatever the case, for many people "WhiteWorking Class" has become polite shorthand for unemployed, unemployable, ignorant, racist, scrounger. This research suggests something different.

". . . rather than the popular portrayal of a feckless mass, annexed in dysfunctional housing estates, our research paints a much more nuanced reality. People were diverse in terms of ethnicity, income and tenure and emphasised values of hard work, reciprocity and mutual support.

"Racism is never acceptable. This report demonstrates that it is not the domain of the white working class either. Extremist parties have been shunned by residents. These are super-resilient places, with people who simply want to be heard, valued and treated fairly rather than forgotten. Hopefully this is a message that will be heard and acted on. And the people I grew up with can stop being stigmatised and left to feeling 'last in line'. "

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