This brief applies to those who have failed this module AND are entitled to a resit. While this brief is similar to the individual task originally assigned for this module, you MUST choose a different place from the one you worked on for your first attempt. Please read this document carefully, and make sure you take some time upfront to think about how you can fulfil your brief. Above-all, make sure that you read and understand the feedback provided. You need to do the readings provided and critically apply them to your work. The work itself must be substantial, articulate, informed and provide a sophisticated analysis. Avoid description and superficial value judgements. Examine your own assumptions. Think, what can I learn from this work that can be useful for my future studies and most importantly for my life?
Neoliberalism is more than a narrow economic philosophy,[it is] a totalizing rationality that has made competition the guiding principle not only of the market, but work, education, and many other spheres. This rationality produces its own subjects who see themselves as enterprises in general competition with other human enterprises.(DardotandLaval2014)
The last thirty years have seen the increasingly hegemonic ascendance of Neoliberalism. We understand Neoliberalism as a political and economic project, but above all a cultural one. Neoliberal thought and practices saturate the fabric of British society: they inform the way we construct and conceptualise our own-selves and what we do, and they shape our daily practices of work, leisure and consumption.
British urban structures are a key field of signification and praxis, where Neoliberal norms shape how we understand, embody and enact class, race, gender and citizenship. Where we live, and how, helps produce radicalised, gendered and classed subjects,which can variously be excluded and objected through forms of political, economic and cultural oppression. Excluded groups, however, produce forms of resistance and revolt. Tyler describes these ‘revolting subjects’ as:
A counter-public within the borders of the state which, through their protests, fracture[s] and contest[s] the coercive ideologies, injustices and deepening inequalities of a degraded British democracy. The voices of resistance against the objectifying logics of neoliberal govermentality are growing louder. (Tyler 2013: 2)
For your 202MC resit, you have to critically analyse how contemporary Neoliberal configurations of class, race, gender and citizenship are represented, embodied and enacted in an urban neighbourhood of your choice. You Must choose a different city from the one you worked on for tour first attempt. Make sure you use the readings provided on the module blog, and situate your analysis in the larger social and cultural structures of power. The results of your analysis must take the shape of an online media artefact.
In order to fulfil your brief you have to pick a place, immerse yourself in it, and gather appropriate material of all kinds: pictures, films, impressions, discussions and more, and you will use these materials in a way that does not assume there represent some essential truth of the place you picked. I is key tat you also use the readings on the module blog, and do research in the library to integrate and deepen your analysis.
Also think of what you learned in these past two year – how can you use that to build on your project? Take some time upfront to think about how you can fulfil your brief. Collect appropriate materials on site. Think carefully about how the materials you choose either confirm or trouble preconceived notions of your project. As you work, keep reflecting upon your ideas and your findings.
Above all, be analytical and be critical – you are not being asked to provide marketing material, descriptive postcards or a tourist brochure. This is not an activity in technique and surface: you will not be marked on your production values, but your critical and creative thinking. You should engage in-depth with the cultural and social meaning of what you see.
You may want to ask yourselves:
- How can I responde to the brief in an interesting and unusual way?
- How can I use the theories I studied to make sense of my data?
- What are the ideological, political, economic and social determinants of the place I am in? (e.g. class, age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability…)
- How can I articulate my perspective and my ideas in my work?
- What are the different possibilities I have? Why am I making the choices I am making?
- What is the significance o my work, its cultural implications?
- How does this place compare with other places/time?
- How does this place feel? If it’s familiar, how do I make it strange so I can see it anew? If it’s strange, why is that?
- What is this place trying to say? Is that the only possible meaning? What other (counter) narratives are possible?
202MC Resit Neoliberalism Citizenship
When I first was giving the brief of 202MC to say I did not understand what was expected of me was an understatement. The vast amount of terms being used within the brief was overwhelming as they were terms I had never heard of before. We were given 3 readings in which would help us understand neoliberalism from a variety of views as well where neoliberalism is used. However once I started reading them I just could not understand any of it. I decided to go straight to the basics and to find out what all these different terms meant before attempting the readings again.
Neoliberalism: A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal(?)
concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth(?).
a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian
attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favouring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant
of the ideas and behaviour of others; broad-minded.
- Of or relating to the production, development, and management of material.
- Wealth, as of a country, household, or business enterprise.
1.(Government, Politics & Diplomacy) the condition or status of a citizen, with its rights and duties.
I found that many of these terms related to how society works as a whole. So I decided to also look into society itself and see how things run and whether equality is a part of society whether relating this to jobs, sex, race or class. I decided to show this by using a pyramid so I am able to understand and explain more clearly.
As you can see at the bottom of the pyramid there are people within society in which cannot work for certain reasons or just simply cannot find work. These are the people that tend to be poor and as they are at the bottom of the pyramid, it also means there are much more of them. These people also tend to be on benefits and are known as lower class. The second section relates to people who have low paid jobs and may have to work more than one job to afford living costs. The people with higher paid jobs are likely to have a more interesting job with benefits such as pensions. At the top are the people who own or run the corporations in which the people underneath work for.
This pyramid can now be used to determine equality in terms of gender, race or class. When you think about how this pyramid should be split in terms of gender you expect it to be equal as shown below.
However this is not the case as there is still discrimination against women. The pyramid actually looks like this:
There are fewer women that run the corporations and more women in poverty, whereas the men run most of the corporations and fewer men are in poverty.
If we then use this pyramid to represent race in the working society you would expect the pyramid to look like this:
As shown above each section represents a different ethnicity. You would expect each ethnicity to uphold an equal amount within each sector of poverty to ownership. However once again this is not the case due to the way racism works within the society.
Some ethnic groups would be at the bottom of the pyramid whilst the dominant group would run most of the corporations.
As I relate this back the neoliberalism movement I came across the term ‘Social Safety Net’. This is an invisible net in which during the 1960’s prevented people from slipping their way below a certain poverty level. This ‘social security net’ supports public attractions such as public libraries, health care and parks.
The social safety net was mainly introduced in to the United States, but the UK has developed its own form of social security net to also prevent citizens from falling below the poverty line.The wealthier citizens provide the social safety net by paying taxes to the government. This is to support the benefit system of the lower income citizens. However some wealthy people believe that they shouldn’t have to pay taxes, and should actually be reward for their success. Some politicians were in favour of this neoliberal view and started to enforce tax reductions. This then meant that corporations become wealthier, however what they do not realise is that as they become richer, the poor become poorer. As the poor can no longer afford what the corporations are selling, the company would go into liquidation. However the banks were then deregulated by supplying credit into the system meaning the poorer people could once again buy from the corporations. If the banks continue to pump credit into the system the economy will keep expanding in which the entire system will collapse. Therefore, politicians that are against neoliberalism are fighting to keep taxes on wealthier people to ensure the system doesn’t fail.
My project response to the brief
Now that I had a solid understanding of the neoliberal way I wanted to use this knowledge and apply it to a certain area within my hometown called Hinckley. Instead of me using my own assumptions on which area to choose, I decided to ask a few people on which area they personally would want to stay away from. There were two overall responses in which were, Strathmore road/William Iliffe Street and Wykin. As my original thought was Wykin I chose this as my run down neighbourhood. Before visiting the area, I already had my own assumptions in which it was a rather dirty, run down area where there were just lower class people living off benefits. Other people’s assumptions are that it is filled with crimes such as arson, antisocial behavior, burglary, and violence and drug abuse. I wanted to see if these accusations were true and whether it was the place itself that stopped outsiders from going to Wykin or whether it was the people within it. Before heading to Wykin itself, I chose to visit an upper class area opposite to Wykin to compare people’s views of the area, both inside and out. I decided to ask three people in the upper class area some questions regarding neoliberalism and the area of Wykin. I chose not to film or record the people I asked as I felt this would give me a more honest opinion and allowed me to interact with the person directly rather than behind a camera. It also allowed the people giving their opinions to be anonymous.
These are the questions I asked below and their responses are as follows.
1. What do you think of Wykin?
2. In terms of class, what type of people do you think live in Wykin?
3.What do you think of people who live off of benefits?
4. Do you think your taxes should be deducted as part of the neoliberal way of thinking or do you think that you should be taxed like everyone else?
5. Do you hear about much crime, taking place in the area of Wykin?
- Nothing against council estates but it’s a run down area; some streets are better than others. It wouldn’t necessarily be the area I would pick to live if I had a choice.
- Its working class or less.
- It depends if they have lost the jobs. Sometimes it is forced upon you. Its helpful when you have lost your job. But how people live off of them I don’t know and it would be a struggle for them. They have got no intention of working so I have no sympathy for them at all. Saying that that they are no worse than the scrounging politicians.
- We have to pay for our council tax and they get it for nothing. There are for and against it. The benefit system is supposed to benefit everyone who needs it. So how can choose to pay for one thing and not the other such as paying towards the hospital and then people smoking. Taking money from your taxes to support the police and army, so if you don’t pay taxes how are they going to get paid and then help you when need it?
- I have heard there are a fair amount of drug abusers in the area, aswell as alcoholics but I haven’t seen them myself.
Mark (Aged 36)
1. I don’t think it is a recommended area to walk through or be alone in. Just to drive through it is bad enough. I think it is much more run down than my own area.
2. I would say lower class people, who don’t work.
3. You have two types of people who live off of benefits. There are people who want to work and the people who don’t. People who do want to work I give credit too; the others need to stop being lazy and get off their arse and do something about it.
4. Yes I think they should be deducted because there are too many people abusing the system.
5. Yes there have been cases of drug raids and rough people hanging about which makes you feel more uncomfortable.
Tina (Aged 51)
1. Run down, neglected. People don’t care what their front gardens look like. It is an area I don’t want to go in, given the choice you wouldn’t choose to live there.
2. Scum bags. Lower class. Dossers that haven’t got jobs.
3. I have nothing against the genuine ones. But you do have people who have no intention of working. Overall I have nothing against the benefit system. However I also don’t think it is fair as I haven’t been able to claim myself when I have been desperate.
4. I have a job to support myself so having to support everyone, which is what we are doing by paying taxes, is wrong. So I do think they should be deducted for the people who are earning more.
5. I’ve always thought it was a rough area when I drove my kids to school, back then I had seen people looking rough and some houses vandalized with graffiti and smashed windows.
Overall I think that there are mixed views regarding these questions. Mark and Alan have a valid point in which some people do not choose to go on benefits but sometimes people have to, especially if they have lost their jobs. In terms of Wykin itself they all had a similar outlook on the area. They all believe it is run down and not safe enough to walk through particular at night. In terms of the neoliberal way Tina and Mark believe that taxes should be deducted as they do not believe in having to support the people who abuse the benefits system. Alan on the other hand has a rather different opinion on neoliberalism and looked at it from both viewpoints. For him neoliberalism affects people in a positive and negative way which shows he is much more open-minded in the way people live.
Images of the upper class area:
After hearing these opinions from these people, it made me feel more anxious than anticipated about visiting Wykin. Especially when I planned to take expensive camera equipment to get my responses in person. Hearing this, from these people made me think about my approach to questioning and getting the insiders point of view from the area I am planning to visit. However, I finally decided that I needed to find the courage to visit this neighbourhood and find out whether the accusations from the upper class citizens were true or whether they were judging a book by its cover.
The first thing I noticed upon arriving to Wykin was how Wykin road was almost like a barrier in which one side was the neighbourhood with a bad reputation and the other was the upper class neighbourhood. As I first entered Wykin I noticed a house with old broken windows, overgrown grass, stained walls and filthy netting. The overall appearance seemed to be abandonment and neglect. Although, despite the mistreated house giving an affect of desertion, a giveaway of someone still living there were the dustbins outside the front door. This shows that some of the statements and assumptions made by upper class people including myself were starting to become quite clear about the way houses are treated and that gave the impression of class, was lower class.
When I continued to walk around, I came across many gardens, which were overgrown and cluttered; there was paint peeling off the walls of most houses and I felt that you could clearly see that this was a council estate. I did expect to see young youths ‘hanging around’, yet I was somewhat surprised as there was no one around looking intimidating or causing anti-social behaviour. This then gave me a completely different outlook of the area.
Images of Wykin:
As I no longer felt threatened by the look of the area itself, I decided it was time to ask some of the people within the community. As before, I asked three people a variety of question in regards to their way of living and their community. These included:
- Many people said Wykin was a place not to go to, and that it is a filthy area, full of crime such as burglaries, anti-social behavior and drug use. Would you agree with this statement?
- Do you believe you have a stronger community than the wealthier citizens of Hinckley?
- What percentage of people do you believe live off benefits in this neighbourhood?
- If on benefits, would you say the cost of living has affected you negatively?
- Would you like to stay on benefits or be out working for a living?
- Would you say the area has declined or improved in recent years, overall?
- Are there a variety of ethnic groups within the area of Wykin? If so are they treated as part of the community?
Leah (Aged 21)
- In some ways yes and no, we do get some kids being little brats using abusive language and having no respect for elders. In terms of drug use, I would say there’s only a small amount of drugs users, as I don’t see as much as I used to.
- We have a community house open to all ages which brings us altogether as a whole, so yes I would say we have a stronger community as some wealthier people just care about money or just want to get on with their own life and not bother with anyone living nearby. The community house helps young kids learn different skills and do activities, which keeps them out of trouble.
- Yeah because being on benefits is enough to get you by for food and bills but it’s not something I’d like to live off for the rest of my life because I would like the luxuries of having stuff like iPads and laptops.
- I’d like to be out working for a living so again I can have luxury stuff.
- Improved, I’d say ever since they built the community house in 2004 things have got better because there’s less vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
- To be honest, it’s mainly white people living here, but we have some Asian people living down the street from me. They tend to keep to themselves really.
Steve (Aged 28)
- Nahhh not really, its quite alright really once you get to know everyone, there is a few dodgy people round here which I wouldn’t trust but it’s not that bad.
- Yeah because most people who have money, just care about themselves and their money. Most of us help each other out round here, if someone needs a fiver they’ll lend them it, it’s just the sort of people we are, know what I mean.
- Don’t know really, I’d say about 75% – 80%.
- Yeah it has, mainly because once you’ve paid off all your bills and food, there’s like, nothing else for yourself, you’ve only got enough to support yourself for them things, you can’t just go out and buy a new phone or something, because you just can’t afford it.
- For some jobs, it’s not worth working, you might as well stay on the dole and get your rent paid for you rather than working for peanuts.
- I’d say the crime rate round here has gone down a bit, but would still say some houses have been in need for some years, but the council still hasn’t done anything about it.
- Yeah, there’s some ethnicity about but I wouldn’t say they’re part of the community because they kind of keep themselves to themselves, so we don’t really see much of them like in the community house and stuff.
Janet (Aged 66)
- I would disagree with that statement completely, I’ve lived here 20 years and had no trouble and have never felt threatened by anyone here, I know most people and they are good people.
- Our community is very strong round here; we have our own community house, which is very good for keeping the children occupied with stuff to do. The people I know, all support each other and help out where they can. Some wealthy areas, your neighbour doesn’t even want to know you, but here we all call each other family.
- I don’t think it’s down to percentage, I think it’s down to the lack of jobs in Hinckley. Back in the day there used to be hosiery factories all over Hinckley, which would guarantee jobs for young and old people living in Hinckley. Back then; women had certain roles to do for the businesses whereas men had the harder and more manual jobs. However, now they are all closed down it is much harder to get a job overall. Although, I heard they have now started that new bus station so hopefully that will bring in new jobs.
- For the last few years I have been planning my retirement the government have been constantly changing the age, which has meant I have had to take a part time job in a little shop. So I’m not actually on benefits, but I do think the cost of living has got a lot tougher.
- If I was in that position and had the choice, I’d choose to be out working.
- I’ve never felt this was an area, which needed serious improvement, but I wouldn’t say the area has declined as much as it has grown. I’d say the community has improved slightly as I’ve had no real complaint or trouble since I’ve lived here.
- There are mainly white people who live in this community, but personally I’m not one to discriminate against other ethnicities and would always welcome them into the community.
After receiving these responses I had a much more of an understanding of the area, from an insiders point of view. There was less crime than originally assumed and it felt like a very community based area. I found that even though many of the people may have been on benefits not all wanted to be in this situation and would continue to look for jobs even though there are not many within Hinckley. This shows that Alan, from a wealthy area, gave a correct assumption in regard to certain people not abusing the benefit system this therefore relates to class as some of these people who are unintentionally on benefits may actually be working class but are being targeted as lower class.
Hinckley is not very diverse in terms of ethnicity. 97.9% is White British, 1.1% is South Asian and the remaining 1% is other ethnicities. This would explain the reason for why people’s responses about ethnicity in the area of Wykin seemed so limited. As ethnicity in Hinckley is not as widespread, there is only a limited number of each group, which all have their own part to play within the variety of communities around Hinckley town centre. Therefore, Wykin has not got much of an ethnic variety within its small, but yet strong community.
Many people brought up the lack of jobs within Hinckley, making many people lower class citizens. The reason behind the lack of jobs was due to the main industry of hosiery and ‘boot and shoe’ industry, closing down many years ago. This industry had factories across the local area such as Hinckley, Barwell and Earl Shilton, which provided many jobs for its people. These factories that closed down were victims of cheap imports from the Far East, which affected the local area by putting hundreds of people out of employment.
Images of Factories that are either closed down, or have been knocked down and replaced by housing and the official council building:
However, a recent development for Hinckley is a new bus station is being built, which will be known as ‘The Crescent’. This is aimed to revive Hinckley town and provide 800 new jobs throughout its construction. This will allow for many lower class people to move up to working class.
Images of the new bus station under construction – two major supermarkets Iceland and Sainsbury’s were knocked down to start construction:
With this construction project in mind on my visit to Wykin; I then asked a further question to the people I questioned. These were:
Would you be interested in being part of the community and having a job there?
Leah (Aged 21)
- In all honesty, it’s what I’m waiting for, whether it’s a project job or a job that is done when construction is finished.
Steve (Aged 28)
- If the pay is good then yeah I would, I wouldn’t just take any job, as it would be worth the hassle.
Janet (Aged 66)
- Personally, I don’t need the job as I’m quite close to retirement, however as said before if I had the choice then I’d take it.
Overall I think if there a jobs within the area, people would be willing to take them, however, I do feel that they need more motivation in getting out there to get that job they desperately desire. This will then have a better affect on their cost of living and the quality of their life.
Throughout my time spent in Wykin and with the people within the community I felt that my opinion changed on certain subjects. I originally thought everyone abused the benefits system and that the politicians that supported the neoliberal way should move forward with the tax reductions. Initially I believed the lower class were just ‘lazy’ and did not want to work. However my interviews proved that not all people live off of upper class peoples’ taxes and in fact would work if there were more job vacancies available. I do feel, however, the government could do more to revive the area of Wykin in order to help these over exaggerated opinions of the area, in which Wykin is given a bad reputation based on a certain few individuals within the society. This relates to a reading called ‘Britain and its poor’ in which this was said ‘A child’s chances in life are now more determined by where (and to whom) they were born as compared to any other date in the last 651 years.’ (Dorling 2005:5) As Wykin is depicted as an area where people do not want to work, the child’s future has now been limited, as part of being mediated by wealthier communities who look down on that area. This felt like the case with Wykin, as many seemed out of work and as they came from Wykin it seemed the logical explanation.
Wykin is known as a ‘chav community.’ ‘The reason chav spread with such speed was because it so perfectly, and succinctly, described a type of person, that almost everyone in Britain recognized. A type of person defined not just by their clothes, speech and mannerism but their lifestyle and attitude’. (West 2011) If the upper class continue to stereotype and discriminate against lower class people and their lifestyles the system may continue to deteriorate, as the corporations they are trying to get work from are not supporting them in the way they need.
In conclusion, I think neoliberalism has and will continue to have an enormous affect on the lower class and upper class if the neoliberal politicians continue to deduct taxes to make the ‘rich become richer’ and the ‘poor become poorer’. What corporations do not realise is, if they become wealthier whilst others become poor, the corporation owners will lose business, which will have a knock on affect on their profits and wealth. The wealthy are not just supporting the benefits system but the public services and health care system, which are used by a variety of classes. Wykin suffers at the hands of upper class discrimination because of their typical attitude towards working and finding work. My evidence found from Steve supports this. However, evidence found from Leah and Janet, show that not all people are the same within the area.
In terms of race within Wykin, there was not a vast amount of ethnicities. As Wykin is known for its bad reputation, not many ethnic groups may choose to live there when given the choice to live in a more accepting neighbourhood. The people, who look at living in Wykin, do not know the information I found from the citizens within the area. This is from people basing their decision on the look of the place and the assumptions from others. In contrast, evidence I found from people in the community say that they are welcoming to other ethnic groups and would treat them as part of the community.
Gender did not really have much of an affect on the area of Wykin, however it did play apart in the job industry. Janet discussed how woman were given certain roles within industries compared to men back when she was working many years ago. Although, I think that has in some ways changed over the years as more woman are capable of taking on a male role. Equality in gender is slowly rising and has done over the last 30 years, although there are still more males owning the corporations.
Overall the citizenship status of Wykin is very high as they all support each other and have a strong community. This shows that despite upper class people’s assumptions on how they live, such as Tina describing them as ‘scum bags’ – these people actually do have a strong connection and help each other providing a large case of citizenship for the people within the society. However, they may cause an issue in a wider society, due to being discriminated by other societies. Only through work could class abjects find a route back to citizenship and into the bosom of the body politic. (Gillies 2005:838) after reading this quote I actually disagree with what has been said, as there is a strong citizenship within the area of Wykin.
My opinion on Wykin immensely changed as I began to find out more information about the area and the people within it. This project has allowed me to become much more open minded in regards to lower and upper class citizens and the neoliberal way of thinking. I also feel this is a subject matter in which I will be able to apply to any future projects. Now that I had all of the views from a variety of sources I needed to make an online artifact to represent what I had learnt over all, in regards to neoliberalism and my chosen area. I felt like heaven and hell was a fitting description of lower and upper class citizens within society. So I decided to create a poster in which demonstrates neoliberalism as a heaven and hell situation. I also wanted to show that even though lower class people do not have much money and live in council houses that they had a much stronger community compared to the upper class living in paradise in which all they care about is their wealth and wellbeing. Here is my final product below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIUWZnnHz2g – Main source of understanding neoliberalism and was a great way to understand for a beginner.
Found Imagery For Final Artifact:
‘Only through work could class abjects find a route back to citizenship and into the bosom of the body politic.’ (Gillies 2005:838)
‘The reason chav spread with such speed was because it so perfectly, and succinctly, described a type of person, that almost everyone in Britain recognized. A type of person defined not just by their clothes, speech and mannerism but their lifestyle and attitude’ (West 2011) Page 168
‘A child’s chances in life are now more determined by where (and to whom) they were born as compared to any other date in the last 651 years. (Dorling 2005:5)