Poverty Porn

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This is where my blog is used in a selfish way, as a place to store references and ideas for myself. Hopefully this will be of use to others too examining the construction of poverty and social exclusion, and how the media demonises the poor. Look at the difference between today’s poverty porn, and the documentaries of the 1980’s. Back then, we felt angry that these people were being expected to live like this. Now we are angry at people for living on benefits.

A documentary ‘Life on the Scrap Heap’ about 1985 Birkenhead. Great quote, “They are defrauding me of the right to work”. “Once you’re down they keep you down and kick you”.

Tees Street Isn’t Working

Does Anyone Care? Part Two

Does Anyone Care? Part Three

Birkenhead tip featured in the documentary is now a nature reserve.

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This is my town, and I fascinated by local history and the effects of declining industry on poverty, aspirations and social exclusion. Children in the above documentaries were leaving school to no jobs. Whole families trapped in an area with little employment, and little hope of obtaining one that could feed a family as their skilled work had prior. Whole families trapped in this cycle of despair. These documentaries ring true, my father worked on the docks and yards as a welder and unemployment sent him into a downward spiral. The men speaking in the documentaries were not just speaking for themselves but a whole community, and not just this community but the towns across Britain plunged into despair by the fall of industry.

I think the debate now is far more complex, and I would love to see a documentary that isn’t poverty porn focussing on the working poor, that now working is not necessarily a way out of poverty. That with the decline of the unions of a strong working-class identity, unskilled (in particular) labour is being exploited with zero hour contracts, ‘self employed’ classifications, short-term contracts.

Before the 1980’s struck, my mum reminisces that my dad could leave a job on a Friday because he fancied something different, and would start his new job on a Monday morning. His skilled work was in demand and work paid.

I was very pleased that Benefit’s Street was not allowed to film in the area.

Charley Wright on the River Streets Estate Birkenhead – overview of the former working class community, where industry employed over 14,000 people. Charley resides in the one remaining home, he will not be forced out by a compulsory purchase order.

Lynsey Hanley’s book Estates An Intimate History talks about Birkenhead (2007, p.115) and gives an in depth look into ‘slums in the sky’.

Oak and Eldon Gardens Birkenhead -poorly designed and exacerbating social exclusion.

You can see some of the old buildings such as the New Dock Inn a.k.a ‘blood tub’ pub and attached 4 story flats in the film Awaydays. This was once part of Illchester Square, the ‘dockers’ cottages’.

Here is New Dock Inn.

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And now the land where they once stood

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Hulme Crescents 1978 This is an example of what Lynsey Hanley calls “slums in the sky” and the huge problems with planning. Also this clip shows ‘the poverty trap’, the relationship between poor wages and high rents and bills.

I have also written the following posts which may be of interest:

Education and Poverty

Jamie Oliver Plastic Food and Plastic Politics

Teaching Hegemony

Benefits Street returns: The myth that’s worth hitting It might seem like grim viewing but, actually, it’s pure escapism “Unemployment is a reality but it’s not a family trade, in which son follows father into the dole queue, as he followed his father before him. You may come across some shiftless individuals who believe the world owes them a living – several were handily showcased for us in the first Benefits Street series – but this description does not fit the majority of people who find themselves underpaid or unemployed”.

So-called ‘welfare ghettos’, with whole communities on benefits, are a myth, researchers say

Suspicious reigns in the new benefits street

Daily Mail’s attempt at being left-wing…

This is a low-pay ‘recovery’ built on the back of the working poor
Recent economic data is looking rosy for the coalition. But the growth of underemployment and zero-hours contracts are combining to create a toxic and intractable social problem

Working poor trapped in unbreakable cycle of poverty turn to food banks in their lunch breaks

Life on the breadline: welcome to the world of Britain’s working poor

Tonight: The rise of the working poor – clip

Most people classed as being in poverty ‘have job’

The working poor who fight to live on $10 an hour
They are the waitresses, cleaners, clerks, and caregivers — one illness, rent hike, or layoff away from the very bottom

Working poor forced to spend half their income on housing: Resolution Foundation highlights problems of households struggling with mortgage payments or rent as wages stagnate

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