Archive for the 'Policy & Politics' Category

Europe’s largest ghetto: squalor and violence in the shadows of Madrid

Welcome to Valdemingómez. Just 12km from Madrid, political neglect, spatial exclusion and social policy stagnation have created a lawless landscape of drugs and violence. Squalor and hopelessness reduce chances of a way out.

“Julia” nervously emerges from her shabby tent to face another day of survival: she is homeless, wanted by the police, and addicted to heroin and cocaine. She is also five months pregnant.

The harrowing stories of Julia and others like her feature in a new book Dead-end lives: Drugs and violence in the city shadows by Daniel Briggs and Rubén Monge Gamero – out today.

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Image: Dead-end lives, page 192: ‘Respite’

Read the foreword by Professor Dick Hobbs below.

“Long before urban ethnography came of age with the Chicago School, Henry Mayhew had trawled London’s streets for narratives of the poor, dispossessed and excluded. For all of their rightly celebrated qualities, the sociologists of the Chicago School seldom provided the kind of vivid detail that is central to Mayhew’s journalism for the Morning Chronicle. He was particularly concerned with men and women for whom transgression was an inevitable consequence of the material conditions in which they found themselves. Seamstresses squeezed by the punitive pressures of piecework turned to prostitution to feed their families, street traders who relied on their own invented language and transgressive leisure pursuits to resist harassment by the new social control agencies, and some of the poor reduced to collecting dog shit from Albertoian pavements before delivering their fetid buckets to the capital’s leather tanneries. For Mayhew, crime/deviance/transgression was a social product, and very much part of the relentless unforgiving meat grinder of life in the city.

However, the Chicagoans’ establishment of urban ethnography as a central and enduring prop of social scientific endeavour did open the door to the city’s dirty secrets, and through this door have passed many thousands of scholars intent on bringing to the fore issues that most urban dwellers seek to scrape from the soles of their shoes. Most, but not all, of Chicago-influenced ethnography was based on an urban template created as an explanatory model of industrialism.

The industrial city was essentially zonal, and when drilling down into these zones, deviant behaviour – predominantly, but not exclusively, youthful delinquency – could be unwrapped, analysed and, crucially, rehabilitated. While later proponents of urban ethnography sometimes withdrew from engagement with rehabilitative policy engagement, its replacement was often a romanticised misfit sociology that valorised both the deviant and the intrepid researcher who would then shamelessly trade on this brief brush with outlaw status for the remainder of an academic career.

The post-industrial city, where the now superfluous poor of the industrial project have been supplanted by previously unfamiliar forces of economic apartheid, offers few of the assured inevitabilities of industrialism. The shape and form of urban existence has changed, and as a consequence, the trajectories of existence in the alcoves where working-class lives are lived are now dominated by population churn, by fragmentation and by a vernacular cosmopolitanism based on informal modes of survival that have little connection with institutions of governance.

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Valdemingómez is one such alcove, and in describing life, death and commerce in this area on the edges of Madrid, we are introduced to a world that is uncomfortably close to Mayhew’s London. Thankfully, Daniel Briggs and Rubén Monge Gamero are as sensitive to the multiple complex forces that created Valdemingómez as they are to the harrowing conditions of survival of its population, where addiction and the servicing of addiction dominate social life. Cities churn, global populations shift and with capitalism in a state of permanent crisis, the flotsam and jetsam of ‘Europe’s largest ghetto’ compete and co-exist within a range of informal economies, in particular, the drug trade. Briggs and Monge Gamero explore this world of poverty, profit, hope and addiction with enormous skill. For this is the future, the ghetto at the edge of the city, life at the periphery largely abandoned by the state, occasionally subjected to police operations, but not often enough to impact on the illegal economies that are the poisonous lifeblood of Valdemingómez, where ‘the Wild West meets the third world’.

The authors do not valorise deviance, but do describe and explain a world where destructive social and personal practices are the norm. Indeed, the descriptive passages, which constitute this book’s strength, are among the most vivid and insightful to be found in contemporary ethnography. Highlighted are the impacts of often ignored causal factors such as the withdrawal of the state, and the consequences not only for the addicted and their families, but also for the poor bloody infantry of police and drug agencies that seek to make an impact on this blighted domain. The limits of intervention, particularly during an era of austerity, along with the predatory culture of many of Valdemingómez’s residents, are emphasised by harrowing description and interviews.

This is a deeply upsetting book about an alcove of the global economy where death and degradation are embedded into every pore. Enhanced by photography, this excellent and innovative ethnography stands as a powerful and unnerving document of contemporary and probable future urban life.

paloma-resting
Image: Valdemingómez, where people like Paloma sleep in dirt and sell sex for a couple of euros for drugs.

Yet, as with Henry Mayhew’s seminal work, written in a long distant era of exploitation, deprivation and squalor, it is the heart-rending stories of the poor that leave the most indelible impact on the reader. The utter impossibility of their plight is genuinely disturbing, and the term ‘social exclusion’ has seldom been more appropriate, its causation more complex, or its reality more distressing.

Professor Dick Hobbs, Emeritus Professor at the University of
Essex, and Professor of Sociology at the University of
Western Sydney, Australia

Dead-End lives [FC]Dead-end lives by Daniel Briggs and Rubén Monge Gamero is available with 20% discount on the Policy Press website. Order here for just £13.59.

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Free collection of Policy & Politics highly cited articles

Originally published on Policy and Politics blog.

 

by Sarah Ayres, Steve Martin, Felicity Matthews, Diane Stone – Policy & Politics Editors

We are delighted to announce that Policy & Politics has achieved an impressive result in this year’s Journal Citation Reports with an Impact Factor of 1.939. This places the Journal firmly in the top quartile of international journals in both the public administration and the political science categories.

This fantastic outcome is testimony to the outstanding quality of research produced by our authors, the meticulous scrutiny of our peer reviewers, and the hard work of the Policy & Politics and Policy Press team. We would like to offer our thanks and congratulations to all.

To celebrate this increase we have made the most highly cited articles which contributed to the 2016 Impact Factor free to read until 31 July 2017:

Rethinking depoliticisation: beyond the governmental
Authors: Matt Wood, Matthew Flinders

The politics of behaviour change: nudge, neoliberalism and the state
Author: Will Leggett

Rethinking the travel of ideas: policy translation in the water sector
Author: Farhad Mukhtarov

Measuring and explaining policy paradigm change: the case of UK energy policy
Authors: Florian Kern, Caroline Kuzemko, Catherine Mitchell

Government policies for corporate social responsibility in Europe: a comparative analysis of institutionalisation
Authors: Jette Steen Knudsen, Jeremy Moon, Rieneke Slager

Depoliticisation, governance and the state introduction
Authors: Matthew Flinders, Matt Wood

Repoliticising depoliticisation: theoretical preliminaries on some responses to the American fiscal and Eurozone debt crises
Author: Bob Jessop

Politicising UK energy: what ‘speaking energy security’ can do
Author: Caroline Kuzemko

Depoliticisation as process, governance as practice: what did the ‘first wave’ get wrong and do we need a ‘second wave’ to put it right?
Author: Colin Hay

‘Water dripping on stone’? Industry lobbying and UK alcohol policy
Authors: Ben Hawkins, Chris Holden

From tools to toolkits in policy design studies: the new design orientation towards policy formulation research
Authors: Michael Howlett, Ishani Mukherjee, Jun Jie Woo

Depoliticisation: economic crisis and political management
Author: Peter Burnham

(De)politicisation and the Father’s Clause parliamentary debates
Authors: Stephen Bates, Laura Jenkins, Fran Amery

Rolling back to roll forward: depoliticisation and the extension of government
Authors: Emma Ann Foster, Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne

Global norms, local contestation: privatisation and de/politicisation in Berlin
Authors: Ross Beveridge, Matthias Naumann

Governing at arm’s length: eroding or enhancing democracy?
Authors: Catherine Durose, Jonathan Justice, Chris Skelcher

How does collaborative governance scale? Introduction
Authors: Chris Ansell, Jacob Torfing

Market size, market share and market strategy: three myths of medical tourism
Authors: Neil Lunt, Daniel Horsfall, Richard Smith, Mark Exworthy, Johanna Hanefeld, Russell Mannion

Depoliticisation, governance and political participation
Authors: Paul Fawcett, David Marsh

‘Multiculturalism is never talked about’: community cohesion and local policy contradictions in England
Authors: Hannah Lewis, Gary Craig

Poverty and social policy in Europe 2020: ungovernable and ungoverned
Authors: Paul Copeland, Mary Daly

The role of formal and informal networks in supporting older people’s care during extreme weather events
Authors: Jonathan Wistow, Lena Dominelli, Katie Oven, Christine Dunn, Sarah Curtis

The politics of quangocide
Authors: Katharine Dommett, Matthew Flinders

Women’s pensions in the European Union and the current economic crisis
Author: Liam Foster

Find out more about Policy & Politics here

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blog post authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis

There is now a deep crisis in housing supply in many parts of England. In his provocative new book, Duncan Bowie, author of Radical solutions to the housing supply crisis, argues that policy proposals promoted by Government and many commentators are either just tinkering with the problem, or will actually exacerbate the situation.

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Duncan Bowie

We have not learnt the lessons of the 2008 credit crunch and in fact we have had a housing deficit whether the country has been in boom or bust.

It is time to throw off long held ideological assumptions as to ideal forms of tenure and the relationship of state to market.

There is a systemic problem which cannot be corrected by short term measures and more radical solutions are necessary if the housing market is to be stabilised and the delivery of new homes increased.

“Housing…is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas.”

We need to recognise that if we are to tackle inequity in wealth and opportunities, we need to tackle inequity in housing, which is now the central component in inequity between households both within and between geographical areas. It is also central to the growth in inter-generational inequality.

Continue reading ‘Why we need radical solutions to our housing supply crisis’

Attitudes to welfare: a departure from the past or more of the same?

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John Hudson

s200_ruth_patrick

Ruth Patrick

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Emma Wincup

 

 

 

 

 

 

The latest issue of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice is a special themed issue exploring ‘welfare’ attitudes and experiences. Here, the issue editors – John Hudson, Ruth Patrick and Emma Wincup –  look at hints that attitudes to welfare may be changing.

 

Discussions about ‘welfare’ in the UK over the past five years have been set against a dominant backdrop of ongoing welfare reform. The key players in government – David Cameron, George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith – have focused on ending what they describe as a culture of ‘welfare dependency’.

This political landscape shaped public and media debates, with the negative characterisation of ‘welfare’ and the lives of those who rely on it only further embedded by the exponential growth in ‘Poverty Porn’. However, in the 12 months since we began assembling the research we report here,  the UK’s political landscape has been dramatically altered by Brexit: Cameron, Osborne and Duncan Smith are all figures of the past.

The ramifications for social policy are unclear, but today, as we publish our Journal of Poverty and Social Justice special issue on attitudes to ‘welfare’ and lived experiences of those reliant on the most stigmatised form of state support, there are hints of a new rhetoric, politics and approach on ‘welfare’ in the UK. Continue reading ‘Attitudes to welfare: a departure from the past or more of the same?’

Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it

 

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Kevin Hickson

On his return from the Labour Party Conference, Kevin Hickson, author of Rebuilding Social Democracy: core principles for the Left, calls for Social Democracy and presents his ideas on how this should be brought about.

Following his decisive second mandate in less than 12 months, Jeremy Corbyn called on the Labour Party to unite. Without unity the party has no prospect of power. Divided parties always lose elections and the Conservatives have united very quickly after the EU referendum and change of Prime Minister.

Corbyn’s calls for unity seem short-lived, however, with reports of more conflict at the party’s National Executive Committee over the weekend, including the changes that were made at the last minute to Clive Lewis’ speech by Corbyn’s communications chief, Seamus Milne, over the renewal of Trident.

The truce was barely holding up and conference hadn’t even finished!

It is in this context that Rebuilding Social Democracy is published… apparently inauspicious timing, but the need has never been greater.

“Social Democracy is needed in modern Britain and the only adequate vehicle for its implementation is the Labour Party.”

Continue reading ‘Now is the time for Social Democracy: here’s how Labour can achieve it’

Policy Press Impact: MPs and peers hear why morality must be included in public policy

One of the founding principles of Policy Press is about publishing books that make a difference and have impact on our wider society, so we were delighted to discover that author Clem Henricson recently visited the House of Lords to present the findings of her latest book Morality and public policy.

A plea for morality to be put into public policy was made by Clem Henricson when she presented her book, Morality and public policy, to the Intergenerational Fairness Forum of peers and M.P.s on Wednesday 9th March.

Evidence was being examined with a view to reducing current unfairness between the generations. Henricson discussed the book’s findings concerning moral divides which she contends are not adequately or fairly dealt with by government.

Changes in attitudes

Making the case for a higher profile for morality to address changes in attitudes between the generations in a more timely and conciliatory manner, Henricson stressed that it should not take so long for legislation to keep up with shifts in approaches to matters such as abortion, homosexuality, cohabitation and assisted dying. Continue reading ‘Policy Press Impact: MPs and peers hear why morality must be included in public policy’

What is the long-term impact on China of the recent fall in shares value?

In today’s guest post Andrzej Bolesta, author of China and Post-Socialist Development, provides his insight into why the current situation will have minimal long-term impact on China.

Dr Andrzej Bolesta

Dr Andrzej Bolesta

Recently the media have been writing a lot about China’s stock exchange. They have been speculating about the reasons for the fall in shares value and about the possible long term trends impacting China’s development trajectory.

Between the middle of June and the end of August, Shanghai’s stock exchange composite Index fell by around 40 percent, whereas Shenzhen’s by around 45 percent. Although for many investors and analysts it is important to see short term causes and consequences of the current “correction”, for researchers like myself, the paramount issue is whether the current situation is part of a larger package of occurrences, which might impact China and thus the world.

Limited long-term impact

My opinion is that the current situation will have a minimal long‐term impact on China, if any. China’s other challenges are way bigger than the recent troubles related to the stock market.

Firstly, bear in mind that the indexes are still higher than when the boom started last year. This boom is difficult to associate with robust economic growth, as the “new normal” pace is not a double digit figure. Consequently, it is also difficult to associate the current correction with some specific troubles of the Chinese economy.

“there are many things about the companies listed on the stock market that we don’t know…”

Naturally, there are all sorts of factors which are believed to have contributed to the current state of affairs; for example, the financial supervisory authorities have manipulated the regulations concerning the availability of credit to purchase shares, the August devaluation of the RMB has been perceived as an illustration of another weakness of the Chinese economy, speculations that the US Federal Reserve will increase interest rates initiated the flight of the dollar back to America.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there are many things about the companies listed on the stock market that we don’t know. Many of them are state‐owned enterprises with
only limited share available for trading and China’s economy is not the most transparent one.

Consequently, these companies’ standing often depends on non‐market, political factors. Hence, investors have a limited knowledge upon which to act. This contributes to the level of uncertainty, which, in turn, may perhaps generate fluctuations and these fluctuations can be perceived as irrational.

Active macroeconomic policy

Thirdly, to try to amend economic problems, China still has room for active macroeconomic policy. Unlike the US and Europe, it can comfortably continue lowering its interest rates. Moreover, its central government’s debt is comparably low.

Fourthly, the impact of the current situation on the Chinese citizens, as broadly argued, will be rather insignificant. The stock market capitalization as compared to the national GDP is lower than in advanced economies and thus their influence on the national economy is limited. Moreover, the shares are significantly dispersed among many small scale private
investors.

“So whatever happens in China does not stay in China”

Nevertheless, make no mistake. Whatever happens in China has most likely either short term or long term, or both, consequences for the rest of the world.

Soon to be the biggest economy in the world (according to purchasing power parity estimates it already is), China is an integral and deeply integrated component of the global economy. Shanghai is becoming one of the capitals of the financial world.

So whatever happens in China does not stay in China. Consequently, many stock markets around the world have followed suit and recorded falling indexes. However, what may worry the rest of the world the most is China’s slowing rate of economic growth, inevitably perceived to become a long term trend. The slow down affects primarily China’s suppliers of raw materials and energy resources, then the economies with a large share of export directed to China, for example, as part of the regional production chains, and then everybody else.

If you liked this post you might also like….

The Illusion of China’s Economic Liberalization

China and post socialist development [FC]For more insights into China and it’s systematic following of the Post Socialist Development State (PSDS) model why not take a look at China and Post-Socialist Development which is available to purchase here from the Policy Press website. Remember that Policy Press newsletter subscribers receive a 35% discount – if you’re not a member of our community why not sign up here today?

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.


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