Across advanced capitalist economies, welfare withdrawal and reform are undermining the rights, identity and belonging of low-income social citizens. Amidst this upheaval, welfare claimants are engaged in diverse political struggles for and against social citizenship. What risks and opportunities does this present for the future direction of welfare politics? To answer this question, our recent Policy & Politics article explores how welfare claimants negotiate the institutions and ideals driving successive rounds of welfare reform over time.
Can we speculate that there is a relationship between the massive changes in policy and political life since the financial crisis of more or less ten years ago and the look and feel of the streets and homes in our towns and cities? It was not long after the crisis began that I made a journey by car through the semi-rural areas bordering Manchester and Chester and was surprised at the number of homes with new, large and electronic gates. Why would we find these kinds of features in leafy areas with presumably low crime rates? Why indeed would we expect to find now well over a thousand gated communities in a country like the UK that has traditionally not only enjoyed a relatively low crime rate but also a history of more or less open streetscapes and a celebration of public footpaths and byways? We know that the reasons for these changes are complex and lie in a mix of factors that include a search for badges of social standing as well as a fear of crime. Yet the reality in many streets today is of a proliferation not of large gated communities but the rise of what Sarah Blandy and I recently called domestic fortresses. In many neighbourhoods it is possible to see shuttered and gated large homes side-by-side with those with little or no such visible protection. What explains these variations and what does it mean, if anything at all, for questions of policy today? Continue reading Borderlands of the private home: Uncertain social times and our growing fortress mentality→
Owning your own home has long been recognized as a form of asset-based welfare in policy terms. Historic growth in home ownership and house priceshas advanced the assumption that housing equity fulfils a welfarefunction by acting as a store of wealth or even a reserve of cash. However, as Richard Ronald argues, a clear consequence of this policy has been to widen the gap between rich and poor families, as well as between young and old, with access tohousing and housing wealth becoming a critical dimension of social inequality, especially since the last financial crisis.Continue reading What Ever Happened to Home Ownership and Asset-based Welfare? →
Dr Marian Duggan, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Kent
Domestic violence is never far from the news.
With an average of two women a week being killed by a current or former partner, and an increasing number of cases involving the murder of children too, initiatives to address this form of interpersonal victimisation have been increasingly prioritised by governments.
One such initiative in the UK is the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS). Launched on International Women’s Day (8th March) 2014 by Home Secretary Theresa May MP, the DVDS offers members of the public the ‘right to ask’ the police for information about a partner’s past if they are concerned that there is a history of domestic violence or violence against women. The policy was heralded by the Home Secretary as part of a “raft of measures” designed to “hand control back to the victim by ensuring they can make informed decisions about their relationship and escape if necessary”.
The Reverend Richard Coles of Radio 4 and ‘The Communards’ fame, presented this year’s Policy and Politics Annual Lecture, the 21st in the series. The theme of the lecture was same sex marriage and the church, delivered by the Reverend as a ‘ramble down memory lane’ and very much part of his own personal life story.
The lecture was, by turns, amusing, informative and challenging as well as saddening. It veered from funny anecdotes to tales of tragedy; from personal life events to big questions of principle. Overall it was a brilliant piece of oratory with just the right level of information and challenge, as well as being more than sufficiently thought provoking.
Richard’s life story is well documented in his autobiography “Fathomless Riches: Or How I Went from Pop to Pulpit” published in 2014. It’s a colourful story of a young gay man from middle England making his way to London and becoming part of an ‘alternative gay culture’. In his presentation he described London in the 1980s as a polarized city: a place where Thatcher and Livingstone epitomized the ‘twin poles of values in the battlefield of London”. He saw it as a city where post-punk democratization was evident and an alternative gay culture was emerging, one with a ‘hard-left’ basis and a tribal culture, with a political common purpose. He told us about his involvement with the lesbian and gay support for the striking miners of South Wales, recently depicted in the film ‘Pride’. He describes the mid 1980s as a time of experimentation, creativity and excitement, when he found himself surrounded by a small group of people that came together to epitomize a significant cultural and political moment in gay history. Continue reading Same Sex Marriage and the Church, by Rev. Richard Coles→
Over the festive period, spare a thought for the 1% lowest earners in the UK. Read on if you care…
The Conservatives won a narrow majority in May 2015. The result shocked a London based commentariat. This was hardly surprising as the Capital swung to Labour and London remains where life’s winners congregate, a place from where losers must be expelled. It was life’s losers who did not turn out to vote for the main alternative on offer, a watered-down version of Conservative austerity being sold to them by Ed Miliband. We were then told that the Labour Party did not appeal enough to those who were aspirational and wanted more, including people who wanted more largely irrespective of who had to have less. But perhaps fear and fantasy greatly appealed too, an eighth of the English electorate voted for the UK Independence party (UKIP).