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Ethnicity, class and aspiration

Ethnicity, class and aspiration: Understanding London's new East End

Tim Butler
Chris Hamnett
Sadiq Mir
Mark Ramsden
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  • Book Info
    Ethnicity, class and aspiration
    Book Description:

    East London has undergone dramatic changes over the last 30 years, primarily as a result of London's large scale de-industrialisation and the rise in its financial sector. Large parts of inner East London remain deprived, but a once overwhelmingly white working class area is now home to a more complex and mobile class and ethnic mix. This topical book focuses on the aspirations of these different groups and the strategies they have pursued about where to live, driven in part by a concern to ensure a good education for their children. The book will be essential reading for students and academics in sociology, urban studies, geography and multicultural studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-652-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. List of tables, figures and illustrations
    (pp. vi-viii)
  2. ONE Introduction: the social transformation of East London
    (pp. 1-32)

    London is now one of the world’s leading global cities. One of the characteristics of this is the role of the City of London and its position in global financial flows; another is the role of London in global migration, both at the top and bottom ends of the labour market. On the one hand, there are the highly paid workers in the City who come from the US, France, Germany and other Western countries (including Japan and increasingly China) and on the other hand, there are the less skilled, the ‘huddled masses’ from Africa and Asia. The former are...

  3. TWO Changing economy and social structure of East London
    (pp. 33-56)

    In this chapter and Chapter Three we point to the changes that have taken place in class and ethnic structure and how these changes and the interactions between them have been particularly marked in East London. These changes could be regarded as a marker for the future, particularly in large metropolitan areas. They have also not occurred within a political and economic vacuum and we locate them in the context of London’s recent re-making as a major financial services economy under conditions of neoliberal governance (Hackworth, 2007). This chapter is focused mainly on class change; Chapter Three looks at changes...

  4. THREE Changing ethnic and housing market structure of East London
    (pp. 57-90)

    Over the last 30–40 years the ethnic composition of London has undergone a dramatic transformation from that of a predominantly white, mono-ethnic city to an increasingly multi-ethnic city with large minority ethnic populations. In 2001, 29% of the population of Greater London were drawn from minority ethnic groups and in inner London the proportion reached a third. In terms of ethnic population, London is becoming more like some major North American cities such as New York and Los Angeles (Storkey and Lewis, 1996; Peach, 1999; Johnston et al, 2002a). Although London’s minority ethnic groups are still minorities, they have...

  5. FOUR Moving on, moving out, moving up: aspiration and the minority ethnic suburbanisation of East London
    (pp. 91-116)

    ‘Aspiration’ (safely escorted by scare quotes) and its offspring, upward social mobility, were at the heart of New Labour’s project. Not for nothing did former Prime Minister Tony Blair state in 1997 that his priorities for New Labour were ‘education, education, education’. Aspiration thus offered some hope of ‘getting on’ (rather than simply ‘getting by’) to groups who were not previously on the radar of the major political parties as well as enabling New Labour to connect with a wider electoral community that had largely been neglected by the political establishment. In effect, Blair built on Nye Bevan’s concept of...

  6. FIVE Social reproduction: issues of aspiration and attainment
    (pp. 117-146)

    Nowhere is the changing ethnic composition of East London shown more dramatically than in its schools. We discuss two key issues in this chapter – those concerning aspiration and attainment – which we introduced in the previous chapter. In this chapter, we focus on how they are operationalised, delivered and achieved on the ground in relationship to education and the schooling system. Our starting point is that there is a strong sense of aspiration among the middle classes, broadly defined, of East London, which is particularly marked among some minority ethnic groups for whom education is the key to upward...

  7. SIX The limits to parental decision making under conditions of constrained choice
    (pp. 147-194)

    In this chapter we develop the theme of ‘choice’ about schooling in East London, reflecting the importance placed on schooling and the difficulties faced in getting their children into a favoured school articulated by the survey respondents and interviewees. The parents were undoubtedly responding to increasing pressures (moral as well as strategic and instrumental) to maximise their children’s opportunities by getting them into a good school – ‘doing the best for one’s child’ is now a top imperative for being a ‘good parent’. A good school, as we have already intimated, is often judged by its attainment, although most of...

  8. SEVEN Reputation and working the system
    (pp. 195-228)

    In the previous two chapters we developed our focus on how education has been the means of realising parental aspiration for the respondents’ children’s future. We have done so largely through an analysis of published statistics, our dataset from the PLASC and our own survey and interview data. Aggregate quantitative data are invaluable as a source of information but they do not give us the ‘thinking’ behind the way in which individuals are making choices (or not) about schooling and where to live. Our analysis so far confirms what may be blindingly obvious to most people – that schools with...

  9. EIGHT Conclusions: achieving aspiration?
    (pp. 229-244)

    We have argued in this book that East London has undergone a series of dramatic and far-reaching economic and social transformations over the last 40 years. First, its traditional economic base rooted in the docks and associated manufacturing has largely disappeared to be replaced by a new, service-based, economy. Second, and as a direct consequence of these changes, its occupational class structure has also been transformed. As the previous jobs in manufacturing and the docks have disappeared, so has much of its traditional working class – through retirement, economic inactivity, outmigration and death. They have been replaced in part by...