4 research outputs found

    A society of readers

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    Afterlives of legitimacy: a political ethnography of two post-industrial towns in England

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    This dissertation asks whether there is a crisis of legitimacy in England’s post-industrial towns. Quantitative literatures suggest former mining and manufacturing towns now register high levels of political mistrust and disengagement – patterns which cannot be explained through economics or demographics alone. On the basis of a political ethnography of the towns of Corby and Mansfield, this thesis argues that it has become common for residents of both towns to understand politics primarily through the frame of corruption. The corruption frame is intertwined with a set of assumptions about agency, morality, care and the future, profoundly shaping dispositions towards politics. It constitutes a challenge to the legitimacy of the political system, while also fostering acquiescence in the face of overwhelmingly powerful forces. The thesis considers several common explanations for a withdrawal of consent. Far from being ‘forgotten’ or ‘left behind’, both case study areas were actively remade after they lost their core industries. These processes changed the dispositions of political representatives and local powerbrokers. At the heart of the political shift lies the connection between a political economy and a symbolic economy. Their position of logistical power had once afforded workers in both towns “tokens of care” in the form of clubs, leisure centres and medical facilities. Oppositions between workers, employers and the state were euphemised into a set of moral relations. As the political economy of both areas has shifted, the basis for this symbolic economy has eroded. Moralised understandings of politics have reversed into their mirror image: a sense of ubiquitous corruption. This analysis of two post-industrial towns, I argue, opens up new ways of understanding the connection between deindustrialisation and political discontent and forces us to reconsider our theories of legitimacy

    Why wealth inequality matters

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    Over the past decade, wealth inequality – driven by the private ownership of assets such as property, savings, and investments -– has increasingly been recognised as a major divisive force in the UK, and across the globe. Numerous studies have emphasised that because wealth builds over long time periods and offers huge advantages to the wealthy, it is rapidly becoming the major driver of contemporary socio-economic inequality1. These arguments are not only gaining academic currency but are also increasingly gaining public attention, notably around strategies for taxing the super-rich. More needs to be done, however, to broaden the awareness of the challenges of wealth inequality across numerous policy fields, so that the true gravity of the issues is realised