Article

Still Living on the Edge?

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

In 1996, in Living on the Edge, I described the crisis of poverty afflicting communities throughout Wales: 'A generation of Welsh people are being born into social disadvantage which will ensure that they will under-perform in school, be unemployed or work in marginalized and low wage employment, will live in some of the poorest housing in Europe and be prone to disease and ill-health' (Adamson, 1996, p. 7). At the time of writing, the Conservative government denied the existence of poverty in the UK and pursued economic and welfare policies which did much to accelerate the rise of what, at the time, was being termed the 'new poverty' (Gaffikin and Morrisey, 1992). Now, after ten years of a Labour government with a clear manifesto commitment to the eradication of poverty, it is a useful time to review current conditions in Wales and assess progress toward that objective. This paper will review recent experience in Wales and achieve three objectives. First, I will assess current levels of poverty in Wales and ascertain whether individuals and communities continue to 'live on the edge'. I will also identify the 'poverty triangle' a complex relationship between education, health and housing which is experienced by the poor and which collectively constitute the primary policy domains which poverty eradication strategies must directly engage with. Finally, I will review key Welsh Assembly Government policies developed to tackle poverty, social exclusion and disadvantage in Wales.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

... Whilst there are large concentrations of people living in poverty caused by unemployment in the post-industrial communities of Wales, there are more poor people outside of those areas, scattered across Wales and often in some form of work. Approximately one third of children in Wales live in poverty and this figure is growing again(Adamson, 2008;Welsh Government, 2013 and New Policy Institute, 2013; Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, 2014). ...
Research
Full-text available
Very important report from BERA Poverty and policy Advocacy Commission. https://www.bera.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/100-160-BERA-Poverty-and-Policy-Advocacy-Final-Report.pdf?noredirect=1
... Despite the language of the welfare reform agenda, economic and social disadvantage cannot be explained simply by the alleged personal failings of the local population. Adamson (2008) argued that inequalities of outcome were more the result of the existence of systemic mechanisms of social exclusion that prevent that population engaging with society as a whole as fully productive and active citizens. This can occur as much in poorer inner-city areas, or in peripheries such as the South Wales Valleys. ...
... This is a complex process and will not be fully described here other than to identify the effects of such patterns of inclusion. These include:Adamson 1999Adamson , 2008). It is important to note here that these outcomes are not simply a result of the chaotic life choices of an 'underclass' as described by Charles Murray (1990), but rather the cultural, emotional and physical results of economic marginalisation and social exclusion from society as a whole. ...
Research
This is a report of a 12 month research project to define an approach to poverty eradication and environmental sustainability in a post-industrial community. The case study focuses on Tredegar in the Gwent Valleys of South Wales. However, the method developed has international relevance for the regeneration of post-industrial communities that are experiencing economic marginalisation and high levels of poverty and social exclusion
... • High rates of economic inactivity (Adamson 1999(Adamson , 2008. ...
... There is a need, therefore, to 'bend' these institutions toward better serving disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Programme bending has generally been acknowledged in Wales to be an overall failure thus far (Adamson, 2009(Adamson, , 2010aWales Audit Office, 2009;Welsh Assembly Government, 2006); and one of the study's aims was to understand why. ...
Article
Full-text available
Two of the most important social policy agendas of the Welsh state in the contemporary period are the attempt to revitalize the Welsh language – through the promotion of Welsh medium education, in particular – and the effort to eliminate regional inequality and poverty – most recently, through the government’s Communities First programme. This article recounts the history of a cool and sometimes fractious relationship between a Welsh medium secondary school and a low income, Communities First neighbourhood in the south Wales valleys, in order to highlight some limitations in each of these agendas, and the problems that can arise when these agendas have not been fully integrated. The disconnection between the projects of language revitalization and neighbourhood regeneration may be seen as a local manifestation of a more general split, in Wales as elsewhere today, between what Nancy Fraser calls a ‘politics of recognition’ and a ‘politics of redistribution’.
Article
Popular interpretations of national identity often focus on the unifying qualities of nationhood. However, societies frequently draw hierarchical distinctions between the people and places who are ‘most national’, and those who are ‘least national’. Little attention is paid to these marginal places within the nation and the experiences of their inhabitants. This article helps to address this by analysing the ‘less Welsh’ British Wales region of Wales, a country that has traditionally possessed a hierarchical, regionally constituted nationhood. The article studies the British Wales region both ‘from above’ – considering how some areas develop as ‘less national’ – and ‘from below’, introducing empirical ethnographic work into ‘everyday Welshness’ in this area. Whilst previous work on hierarchical nationhood focuses on how hierarchies are institutionalized by the state, this article demonstrates how people at the margins of the nation actively negotiate their place in the nation. Whilst people in this area expressed a strong Welshness, they also struggled to place themselves in the nation because they had internalized their lowly place within the national hierarchy. The article demonstrates the importance of place and social class for national identity construction and draws attention to the role of power in the discursive construction of hierarchical nationhood.
Chapter
Full-text available
More young people than ever now remain in post-16 education and progress onto higher education. However, despite these changes, white working-class young men are one of the least likely demographic groups to enter university. Drawing on an ethnographic study with young men from a deprived community in Wales (UK), in this chapter I look at the lives of a group of educational ‘achievers’, offering a different way to view working-class educational experiences. Despite working hard academically, the future aspirations of these young men to attend university are still tempered by the classed and gender codes that underpin expectations of manhood in this deindustrialized community.
Article
Full-text available
In this paper, drawing on ethnographic observations and using the case study of one working-class young man called Jimmy, I explore how multiple masculinities are displayed through a process of chameleonisation. Through outlining Jimmy’s transitions through post-compulsory education and his different social and cultural spaces, I illustrate the ways which he tries to conduct multiple performances of self. I show that in a variety of settings, with different actors and within different social interactions, Jimmy navigates between numerous conflicts in order to try and achieve both academically, with aspirations of processing into higher education and also as a successful athlete. These processes are simultaneously met with demands to achieve a socially valued form of masculinity that has been shaped by the former industrial heritage of the region. This paper argues that young working-class men are not locked into displaying just one performance of masculinity, but have the agency to switch between performances and to adopt multiple identities. However, this process which I term chameleonisation, is fraught with difficulties. This process illustrates how we must begin to think about young men having the ability to display multiple masculinities at various times, and are therefore not the barer of one all-encompassing masculinity that is always, and everywhere, the same. This process can be especially challenging for young working-class men who live in areas of economic change and want to be successful across different areas of their lives.
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report celebrates the efforts of schools to address the impact of poverty on educational outcomes in Wales, which has the highest rate of child poverty in the UK. The report discusses the policy context and reports 12 case studies drawn from school, family and community contexts, which have proved successful in significantly improving the outcomes achieved by young people living in poverty.
Conference Paper
This colloquium presents work from the forthcoming University Press Wales edited collection, Our Changing Land: Revisiting Gender, Class and Identity in Contemporary Wales, which revisits seminal publications from two decades ago, reflecting on continuities and changes in post-devolution Wales. The selected presentations focus on four areas of social sciences interest, education, work, political representation and the home. Michael Ward, returns to Jonathon Scourfield’s and Mark Drakeford’s influential work and examines masculinities, arguing that expectations and transitions to adulthood are framed through geographically and historically shaped class and gender codes. Alison Parken revisits the earlier work of Teresa Rees and considers the political economy of women's relationship to paid work in Wales in last twenty years. Paul Chaney reflects on his significant body of work on the substantive representation of women, which refers to women’s needs and concerns being reflected in public policy and law. Dawn Mannay revisits Jane Pilcher’s pivotal work on Welsh women in the domestic sphere and explores how women are negotiating the impossibility of being both in full-time employment and meeting the ideology of the ‘Welsh Mam’ in contemporary Wales. The authors present a reflexive picture of public and private lives in the context of post-devolution Wales.
Article
Full-text available
During the last few decades the South Wales Valleys (U.K) have undergone a considerable economic transformation, altering youth transitions from school to work. In this paper I concentrate on one group of white working-class young men who were dealing with these industrial, social, cultural and political changes. While it has been said that men in particular have struggled to adapt to changing times, here I suggest that some young working-class men could, despite the many obstacles they face, be termed ‘achieving boys’. These studious, performances of young working-class masculinity offer a different way in which to view a disadvantaged community and explore working-class educational success. However, I argue that their future aspirations to attend university and to leave the locale are still tempered by the historic classed and gender codes that underpin expectations of manhood in this de-industrial community and which can impact on successful transitions to adulthood. Key Words: Young Masculinities, Academic Achievement, Working-Class, Geek, Performance
Article
Full-text available
During the last few decades the South Wales valleys (U.K) have undergone a considerable economic transformation. Alongside industrial change, social, cultural and political traditions have altered youth transitions from school to work. Young working-class men in particular have struggled to adapt to these changes. This paper is drawn from a wider ESRC-funded ethnographic study that explored the diversity of white, working-class masculinities in a socially and economically disadvantaged community. Drawing on the work of Erving Goffman, I take the perspective that masculinity is a performance of multiple acts displayed through different regions of self. Concentrating on the „front‟ display of masculinity of one group of young men, this paper looks at the experiences of those who embrace a trans-global form of youth culture known as the „alternative scene‟ and were labelled by others at The Emos. These young men were often alienated, bullied and victimised for their apparent nonnormative performances of masculinity. However, through a closer analysis of the historical dynamics of place, class and gender, I suggest that these non-normative front performances of masculinity continue to evidence many traditional discourses that contradict their own „alternative‟ displays. In doing so it becomes clear that these performances were in fact a retraditionalization of older discourses of classed and gender codes. Keywords: social class, youth culture, masculinities, alternative scene, place
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine Communities First, an area-based regeneration policy in Wales to explore the barriers to community empowerment. Three related research projects provide data to inform the discussion of community empowerment and to consider the implications of delivery of the policy for theorising the relationship between the citizen and the state as mediated through regeneration partnerships. Design/methodology/approach – Data from three related research projects are discussed. These are an evaluation of local delivery of the Communities First programme, the delivery of technical support to participating communities and a Joseph Rowntree-funded case study of nine regeneration partnerships. All projects are concerned with exploring the experience of community members within regeneration partnerships. Findings – The findings identify major barriers to the achievement of community empowerment including issues of community capacity, institutional capacity, organisational cultures and regulatory frameworks. The findings identify mechanisms for improving community participation and empowerment. The findings are also used to identify community actor agency within regeneration partnerships and to argue against an analysis of regeneration initiatives as a mechanism of social control and incorporation of community activism into a state led agenda. Research limitations/implications – The paper explores one specific policy within a UK devolved region and is not able to comment extensively on similar policy programmes in other areas of the UK. However, it uses this specific experience to comment on generic issues in the community empowerment field and to elaborate theory on the relationship between the citizen and the state. Practical implications – The paper offers practitioners and policy makers insight into the community experience of participation in regeneration partnerships and proposes methods and policy refinements which can improve empowerment outcomes and assist community participation to achieve higher levels of influence over statutory partners. Originality/value – While the paper identifies barriers to empowerment that are recognised in the wider literature, it demonstrates that such barriers can prevail even within a highly participative policy framework such as Communities First. The paper also provides evidence of a clear sense of agency on the part of community members of regeneration partnerships and counters models which suggest regeneration partnerships are simple mechanisms of social control which diffuse community activism.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.