This Is England: Class, Culture, and Ethnicity across Non-Metropolitan Spaces
2010-08-24T08:21:49Z (GMT) by
This thesis is an empirical study of Thurrock, Essex. The research explored the settlement of Black-British Nigerians within the area and the response by the white majority. The research consisted of an extensive ethnographic enquiry that included a content analysis of local media, qualitative interviews and observations. The methodology re-introduced and embraced value as it provided a sociological analysis of political normativity; particularly in definitions and judgements of racism. The methodology vindicated qualitative technique as a pragmatic strategy to explore issues under the radar of public knowledge. The main findings were that white interviewees responded to the new community with a defensive retort of English Identity. The construction of this identity was used to critique social capital theory and its role in community renewal discourse embodied in public policy. English identity was an attempt to use racial and ethnic discourses of commonality to fuse conventional narratives of land and people. The ascendant aspirations of Englishness were used to criticise political and academic vindications of white working class voices opposed to multi-culturalism. Ultimately, the study is a rebuttal of Dench et al’s (2006) study of ‘The New East’. Using Thurrock as a local example the research argues that public policy should avoid the ‘community solidarity’ model espoused by Dench et al when promoting community renewal. The conclusions of Dench et al are argued to be based upon an invalid conceptualisation of social class and are antithetical to wider inclusive and re-distributive politics. The study concludes by arguing that community renewal should reflect the multiplicity and fluidity of English places and people by enforcing a double bind of responsibility between the State and community. It is argued that a more sincere and pragmatic approach to public/private relations is required if Englishness is to be detached from a racial and colonial past.