I wonder why?
Huffington Post UK Dina Rickman Posted: 28/11/11 00:00 GMT
Working class white Britons feel alienated, disenfranchised and last-in-line for resources such as social housing, according to research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The report, which interviewed white working class people in Birmingham, Coventry and London found they felt disconnected from the political process and felt their voices were not heard.
Participants complained they could not express their opinions “because they’re ‘racist” or representatives in local government were not listening to them.
One woman from Aston said: “They are all Asian at the council – it’s like no one can understand us. It’s hard, a joke round here, I hate it.”
Some also complained resources were closed off to them and there was a widespread perception that those in other communities had preferential treatment for council houses.
Harris Beider, who authored the report said white working class people wanted to “be valued” and “connected to government”.
“It is important to confound the negative stereotypes and understand that people in these communities feel their voices are not listened to, and that they have no stake in their community. They want to be valued, heard and connected to government.”
Owen Jones, author of ‘Chavs: The Demonisation of the working classes’ said the report showed “just how voiceless and unrepresented many working-class communities are”.
“For example, I’m a writer, and I’m white, but I would never consent to the identity ‘white writer’. I’ve met countless people who proudly call themselves ‘working-class’, but never ‘white working-class’. Working-class communities also tend to be far more ethnically mixed than middle-class areas – and, particularly somewhere like London, lots of cultural mixing takes place. In lots of ways, ‘white working-class’ is an imposed label.”
Some participants complained of being stereotyped as “on the giro” or “thick” as a result of the working class label.
One woman from Birmingham said being working class was not about “money”: “It’s about people who have always worked, live in a council area and gfrown up with working class values”.
The findings come in the wake of a study by BritainThinks which warned that fewer than a quarter of Britons self-define as working class.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation Chief Executive, Julia Unwin CBE, said: “We know there are real concerns that many people in traditional white working-class areas are becoming increasingly disconnected with the political system and feel their views, experiences and interests are ignored by policy makers. This research highlights the real potential we have to grasp opportunities to engage with and support many of those who feel let down and ‘last in line’.”