Paedophile-Priests and the Declining Signficance of Religion…..

A recent report found that there have been at least 216 000 child victims of sexual abuse since the 1950s at the hands of clergy and other officials working for the Catholic Church in France.

The victims are mainly teenage boys and the figures are probably an underestimate. There could well be over 300 000 victims.

The report found evidence of 3200 abusers out of a total of 115 000 priests in France.

The report took two years and involved looking at historical records of church cases and inteviews with victims and their families.

To date (as I understand it) not one of these paedophile-priests has been prosecuted. There has been a culture in the Cahtolic Church in France of covering all of this up and allowing the abuse to just carry on even though it was widely known it was taking place.

It was only in 2019 that the Pope changed the law in the Vatican to explicitly criminalise sexual abuse, including the grooming of minors, and removed the discretion of senior clergy to simply ignore the existence of abuse if they were aware of it going on.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This grim report is of obvious relevance to anyone studying the beliefs in society option and the crime and deviance compulsory aspect of A-level sociology.

I guess students could use this material in relation to the question of whether religion causes conflict or consensus in society. Certainly now this is out in the open the church is clearly in conflict with mainstream values which see Paedophilia as one of the worst crimes.

In terms of Crime and Deviance it shows the context dependency of deviance – child abuse is universally condemned in society, but not in the Catholic Church’s recent history.

It also offers some support for the Marxist theory – that the crimes of the powerful are more costly than the crimes of the poor, and also shows us how the powerful can cover up their crimes and avoid punisment.

This will also probably lead to the further decline of the Catholic Church – now that it is out that this level of abuse has been happening but ignored it just shows how this institution isn’t really ‘sacred’ at all, it just carried on tolerating these hideous crimes to protect its own reputation.

Hidden Girls – A Documentary on the Exploitation of Girls in Gangs

Gangs in the UK are increasingly ‘recruiting’ very young girls, as young as 10, to hold and run drugs and weapons for them and, for the even more unfortunate, to use as sex-slaves.

It seems that girls are very much the victims within gangs, as they have very little chance of moving up the gang hierarchy. They may well make it to the status of ‘youngers’ but it seems that’s where their progression stops – the best they can hope for is to be in the front line running drugs and weapons and recruiting more girls into sexual exploitation.

They have almost no chance of becoming elders, the people who run local gang cells.

If you want a thoroughly depressing watch, then Hidden Girls on BBC3 (available on iplayer) is for you.

The documentary focusses on two female victims of gang exploitation, exploring how they got involved with the gangs, what gang life was like and how they got out of the cylce of exploitation.

The main method used is semi-structured interviews with the two victims, and also some other professionals who work in the field.

Both victims had very unstable home backgrounds from a young age – one talks of how she experienced her mother (not herself) being abused constantly by her father, and when that relationship ended her mother eventually ended up with a new partner who was a gang member and her house became a base for drug dealing, she was roped into the gang that way, eventually ending up holding drugs and weapons for the gang, from when she was 12.

She doesn’t recount too much about her life as a gang member, but she ended up in what she thought was a ‘loving relationship’ as a teenager with a gang member in their 20s, and I dread to think what kind of abuse she suffered, although this isn’t talked about explicitly.

She went through years of self-harming but eventually managed to get out through finding a place in a ‘safe-house’ with a key worker to support her.

The other victim talks about how she was (basically) neglected at home with there frequently being no food or other amenities – washing her hair with cold water and fairy liquid was normal.

She ended up hanging around with a gang, from the age of 11, because she enjoyed the banter and jokes, getting giving stuff for free, and eventually being asked to hold weapons and drugs.

It sounds like she avoided sexual exploitation herself, but only because she had an older girl friend in the gang who advised her that if she wanted to avoid the dreaded ‘line-up’ ritual (where several male gang members have sex with one girl at once) she had to bring in other young girls and persuade them to be the sex-slaves.

She now regrets all the victims she created and runs Out of the Shadows – an organisation aimed to help young people out of a life of crime.

The documentary also talks about how social media is facilitating the sexual exploitation of young girls, although the links to gangs in relation to social media aren’t really explored.

Relevance to A-level sociology

This post has primarily been written for students of A-level sociology and this material on female victims in gangs is mainly relevant to the Crime and Deviance topic.

More specifically it is relevant to the topic of gender and crime – it is support for the view that female criminals (because these victims are also criminals) usually come from a background of abuse and neglect at home.

It also reminds us just how much gangs are a male phenomenon, with females being victims within the gang structure.

So there is obvious relevance to the topic of victimology here too, these are good examples of hidden victims.

This topic is also worth exploring for research methods – according to the woman who set up Out of the Shadows it is very difficult to access these female victims while they are victims – they tend to keep quiet about their exploitation and suffer in silence, so methodologically this means there is no reliable data on the extent of female victimisation in gangs and it might only be possible to explore this from a historical point of view, once they are out.

Needless to say this is also a sensitive topic, so an interesting one from an ethics point of view.

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Lowering the student loan repayment salary threshold….

The government is proposing to reduce the salary threshold at which students start to repay their tuition and maintenance loans.

Presently, graduates only start repaying their loans when the start earning £27 000 a year, but this could be cut to £23 000.

Students pay back 9% of their salary above the threshold – so if someone is earnings £28K a year, they only pay back £90 a year, 9% of the £1000 above the current threshold of £27 000.

This move will obviously affect lower earners more, and will cost the average student and additional £400 a year in loan repayments and it is estimated that this will save the treasury over £2 billion a year.

Criticisms of this policy change

This will hit lower earners the hardest, bringing in anyone now earning from £23 000 to £27000. This also means graduates will start paying back sooner, even if this will be a relatively small amount in the early days of repayment.

This won’t affect higher earners as much because they are able to pay back faster and thus pay back less than people who get stuck in the £40-50K bracket of earnings, according to analysts from Money Saving Expert:

Those earning £50K a year are currently set to pay back more than those earning £55K a year – all the proposed changes will do is mean those earning £45K a year will end up paying more than those earning £55K a year.

This is because of the insane 5% interest on increasing student loan amounts. The current average student debt is a staggering £45 000 a year, and with interest on PLAN 2 loans (for students who started from 2021) set at RPI plus 3% (total interest currently around 5%).

Once you factor in interest the total amount repayable ends up being nearer £150 000 over 30 years, which means you won’t pay it off in the repayment period unless you’re a very high income earner.

There is also the fact that the proposal to lower the repayment threshold simply isn’t fair to impose on students who have just had their learning disrupted because of Covid and they are also facing reduced job prospects as a result of the Pandemic.

NB – the idea for lowering the threshold came out of a review in 2019 which also recommended lowering tuition fees to £7500 a year, which would help reduce this debt if implemented at the same time.

Signposting/ relevance to A-level sociology

This is an important update for students studying the education module, relevant to the education policies section of that module.

It’s also worth asking yourself whether it’s worth doing a degree, when you can do an Apprenticeship for free!

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Covid Catch-Up Policies: Are they Sufficient?

Most students in England and Wales missed around 20 weeks of regular in-school contact time due to lock down measures in 2020 and 2021.

The government has introduced a number of policies to try and help students catch up with lost learning, funded with £1.4 billion.

The main official government document outlines several different initiatives which started in 2020 and run through to the end of 2021 and beyond, but are these measures really enough to help students catch up on so much lost learning?

Some of the measure include:

  • The covid catch up and recovery premiums
  • Extra funding for the National Tuition programme
  • £200 million additional funding for summer schools in summer 2021.
  • Extra training and support for teachers
  • Mental health and well being support.

The Covid Catch up Premium

This was £650 million allocated to schools to help them provide catch up lessons in 2021, including running summer schools.

This amounted to £80 per pupil up to year 11 inclusive, £240 for SEND pupils.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, that’s because it isn’t a lot.

The Covid Recovery Premium

This was an additional £350 million for the 2021-2022 academic year for schools delivering ‘evidenced based approaches’ to helping students catch up. This money is supposed to be targeted and economically disadvantaged and SEND pupils.

£200 million for summer schools

You can read about the government guidance for summer schools here, there’s not much to say about this other than this isn’t a lot of money to go around all schools in England and Wales!

More money for the National Tutoring Programme

An additional £218 million for the National Tutoring Programme which specialises in running additional support classes for small groups of pupils.

The target was for there to be packages of 15 hours extra tuition for the most in-need students on top of all of the extra support already mentioned above.

Other Measures

Besides the above the government also outlines more training support for teachers, mental health and well being funding and holiday food clubs, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that most of these were already planned before Covid and the government are just re-hashing them and ‘labelling’ them as extra support for Covid-recovery?!?

Criticisms of these government measures

  • There is wide spread condemnation among teaching unions and other commentators that £1.4 billion is no where near enough money to make up for lost learning. This figure is also pitifully small compared to the amounts being spent on education catch up by other similar European counties. The UK is spending £50 a head, The Netherlands are spending £2500 a head.
  • Like with other forms of ‘compensatory education’ these measures are a sticking plaster. They do nothing to tackle wider inequalities in the UK and which is the root cause of poorer pupils having fallen further behind as a result of the pandemic compared to pupils from wealthier backgrounds.
  • I’m not convincing that everything in the covid-recovery plan is actually new, I’m sure a lot of it was already planned before the pandemic, and has been rebranding as part of covid-recovery policy!

Signposting

This post has been written primarily for students of A-level sociology and should serve as a useful update for education policies, which are taught as part of the education module.

Aspects of these policies are also a contemporary example of compensatory education, as some of the funding is aimed at disadvantaged pupils.

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Will we See an Upswing in America’s Social Capital?

Social trust in America is at all time lows, but can this be reversed?

The Covid-19 Pandemic, and Capitol-Hill Insurrection following President Biden’s election victory seem to indicate that America is more socially disconnected and politically divided than ever.

In Bowling Alone (1995), Robert Putnam famously argued that levels of trust and social capital had been declining in American society since the 1960s and recent events seem to suggest that this trend has just continued towards new lows.

Social capital refers to the amount of connections we have outside of the family and work – Bowling alone being a metaphor the decreasing amount of shared social activities people engaged in.

A strongly related concept is Trust, which is something the PEW research centre measures regularly, and the latest stats suggest very low levels of trust among younger people in particular in America:

However, despite this 60 year decline, there is hope that we can turn this around and move to a more connected society again.

in Recent publication by Robert Putnam: The UpSwing he investigated the levels of social capital in America over a longer time frame, more than a century in this case, using four indicators to measure social capital…

  • Political polarisation – how wide apart our political opinions and voting patterns are
  • Economic inequality – how big is the gap between the richest and poorest
  • Social isolation – how much interaction is there outside of the family and work
  • cultural intolerance – to what extent to we accept cultural diversity?

Back at the turn of the century, in 1900 social capital (measured by the above four indicators) had been as low as it is today, but around 1910, the American society turned a corner and began an ‘upswing’. They started to move towards a society which was more connected, more economically equal and more focussed on what brought them together rather than on what divided them.

Back in the early 20th century there was a big focus on social darwinism, most people believed in ‘individual salvation’, but this was replaced gradually with the idea of social obligation to others, and in this upswing, increasing social capital came first at the grass roots, last in Washington.

So maybe if they’ve done it before, The United States can learn lessons from the past and once again start to move towards being a more connected society?

Problems with the last upswing

Putnam suggests that that old ‘we’ was a racist – it didn’t extend to non-whites and the rise of individualism from the 1960s coincides with the rise of Civil Rights and the backlash against this.

So there was a lot of ‘agreeing about things’ and ‘working together’ at the grass-roots level, but there was also an underbelly of racism which resulted in a gradual increase in more visible individualism and social division.

Putnam also points out that ‘too much we can be bad’ As in the 1950s…. with McCarthyism and too much conformity.

So is there hope for a more connected America?

The Pandemic has shown us that there are some things which cannot be tackled if you just focus on your self, which may spur America towards a more socially connected future.

HOWEVER, the issue of Race in America is huge, and it’s hard to see just how this going to be resolve itself into a ‘diverse-we’ from the current situation.

And the sheer level of economic inequality can’t help things either.

I’m kind of left wondering if this isn’t an old-man Putnam just trying to be optimistic in his old age and at least give the next generation some kind of (false?) hope that life might get better?

Signposting and Sources

This post should be of interest to students studying Functionalist Theory as part of the Theory and Methods module in the second year of A-level sociology.

To my mind it can best be used as a criticism of the concept that society’s today are characterised by social integration. Despite Putnam’s optimism I’m not convinced the USA will now start to move towards more social integration.

This is a summary of this Thinking Allowed Podcast.

Robert D Putnam is the Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University

The New T Levels

T Levels are vocational A-levels for 16-19 year olds focussed on general career areas. They run over two years and are mainly taught in colleges and including 45 days on the job training.

They have been developed in collaboration with businesses and are designed to give students the knowledge and skills they need for work or further study. One T-level qualification is equivalent in UCAS points to three A-levels.

The introduction of T-Levels represent a significant effort by the UK government to improve both the standard and status of Vocational Education In England and Wales.

There are several T-Levels currently available, with more to be released for first teaching in September 2022 and they are very broad in scope, with qualifications being offered in such areas as:

  • agriculture, land management and production
  • building services engineering for construction
  • catering
  • craft and design
  • education and childcare (now available)
  • finance
  • hair, beauty and aesthetics
  • legal
  • management and administration
  • media, broadcast and production
  • science

A full list of T Level Qualifications, 2021

T Levels are designed to give students a third option of study after GCSE, alongside Apprenticeships and A-levels, in fact they seem designed to fit mid way between the two, being more academic than apprenticeships (more classroom based learning) and more hands-on than A-levels.

Design and Delivery

The content of each T-level varies a lot, and there is a lot of content in each – the Digital Production T level specification, designed by Pearsons has a 100 page specification, for example.

The content will be delivered primarily by FE colleges, but also local employers will have to get involved for the 45 days work experience component.

Interestingly there are no national requirements to get onto T Levels, the government has left it to individual colleges to decide on entry requirements.

Each T-level has three components:

  • General competencies – English, Maths and Digital Literacy
  • A Core component – focussing on Business related content/ legal issues which are common across several different T-levels
  • A subject specific component – specific to whatever the T level is!

Assessment

This might vary from T level to T level but the ones I have reviewed have a mixture of assessment by examination, coursework and project work.

For more information the government web site on T-Levels is a good starting point.

T Levels: Positive Evaluations so far

  • T Levels seem to be a good compromise between purely academic A-levels and Apprenticeships which are much more on the job and much less academic.
  • The fact that businesses have had a say in designing the specifications means students should leave college at 18 better prepared for work, which could be good for the economy.
  • The ones I’ve looked at seem to have rigorous specifications and assessment, which should give these new vocational qualifications status.
  • They offer students more flexibility than either and apprenticeship or pure A-levels when they finish – either to work or to university.
  • The fact that there are components common to several T Levels means it’s easier for colleges to deliver them.

Personally I’m more inclined to see T-Levels as a net positive, but there are some potential problems…

T-Levels: Potential Problems

  • These are asking students to specialise from a very young age, at the age of 16, and once they’re a few months in they are pretty much ‘locked into’ that path.
  • There might be something of a shortage of employers willing to provide training places for 45 days, or three months.
  • There could be a shortage of teachers in colleges capable of delivering some of the subject specific knowledge. For example, one of the T-levels has modules in ‘data science’ – most data scientists are working in industry, they aren’t going to take a 50% pay cut to go teach in a college.
  • Many industries move very quickly. It could be challenging keeping teachers in college updated with the relevant knowledge and training to deliver appropriate content in some of these career areas.
  • Some of them probably won’t be very popular – Human Resources in particular springs to mind!

Signposting

This is a useful update for students studying the compulsory module in Education, usually taught in the first year of A-level Sociology.

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31% of Children in the UK are living in Relative Poverty

The latest research from the Nuffield Foundation has found that 31% of children in the United Kingdom are living in relative poverty in 2021.

The percentage rises to 36% for children under five years old.

The rates of child poverty have been increasing on average for the last five years.

Child Poverty and Ethnicity

There are some large differences by ethnic group, with Bangladeshi Households having the highest child poverty rates, more than twice the national average, and Indian families having the lowest.

Family type and Child Poverty

It’s probably no surprise that single parent families have the highest rates of child poverty, with child poverty rates of 60%.

Defining and Measuring Relative Poverty

The Nuffield Foundation collects its data on poverty from the Households Below Average Income statistics, which define relative poverty as household income below 60% of median income after housing costs.

The relative poverty figures are then adjusted for family size, which gives us the following amounts of income per week in 2021:

  • £248 or less a week for a lone parent with one child.
  • £305 or less a week for a lone parent with two children.
  • £342 or less a week for a couple with one child.
  • £399 or less a week for a couple with two children.

Relevance to A-Level Sociology

This is an important update for the families and households module.

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Find out More

You can read the the full report by the Nuffield Foundation here.

Thinking about Divorce Might help marriages last longer!

Sociology students should be well aware that we live in age of persistently high divorce rates, with almost half of all marriages ending in Divorce.

While marriage is usually a result of romantic love, and the first months and even years might well be pleasant, eventually mere practical concerns such as money, career changes, and especially childcare can put a strain on marriage resulting in a divorce that neither partner wants.

Jeannie Suk Gersen is a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School who suggests that divorce lawyers should become marriage guidance counsellors and work with couples before they get married in order to get them to reflect on the kinds of things that lead to divorce, and to effectively agree on the kinds of practical questions that can put strain on a marriage which result in Divorce.

The idea is that IF couples think through the kind of problems which usually put strain on a marriage several years down the line, they’ll be better prepared to cope with that strain and divorce will be less likely.

There are three types of question/ issues that couples should work with pre-marriage counsellors to sort out before getting married:

  1. What are one or both of you giving up in order to get married and what should the appropriate compensation be?
  2. How are you going to sort out childcare? (There is no such thing as free childcare)
  3. What property do you want to keep as yours rather than it becoming ‘property of the marriage’?

These are the kind of things couples don’t usually think about when making the commitment to get married, which results in ‘hidden sacrifices; being made by one partner’ which can breed resentment over the years resulting in Divorce.

For example, one partner may give up or take a step back in their career to move to a new city where their partner maintains their career.

Most couples don’t appreciate just how much mundane labour is involved with childcare or how much it costs to arrange babysitters etc. This is something that couples REALLY need to think about before marriage if they intend to have children.

Finally, if they have investments they want kept separate, they need to sort this out in advance of getting married.

These are the three questions that most commonly have to be answered when couples file for formal divorce – and it’s certainly not a matter of romance at that point. Couples have to agree on an economic value of the money lost from the career one of them gave up when they moved or on the cost of the free childcare they’ve given, in relation to the income coming in from the other partner, for example.

Gerson came up with this idea from the course she teaches in family-divorce law. She says she’s received lots of emails from her ex-students telling her how useful knowing about these questions had been in their own relationships.

Her point is that trying to put an economic value on what one person has ‘given up’ and what their compensation should be BEFORE getting married – that should help prevent resentment because both partners are in agreement from day one, rather than there being unspoken about subjective differences in what each person is giving to the relationship, purely in practical and financial terms.

There is an interesting link here to arranged marriages – it is precisely these kind of things that the parents of two people in an arranged marriage will sort out – that there is a kind of ‘equality’ in practical terms and that the partners are a good match in this sense.

In non western cultures – this is considered – sorting out practical considerations about money are sorted out at the start of the marriage journey, then it allows room for romance to start 

The theory is this – if we can sort out the pragmatic arrangements of a marriage first, this should allow more room for fun and romance, and the marriage has more chance of success.

Relevance to A-level Sociology

This is a useful update for students studying the families and households option.

It’s especially relevant to Late Modern perspectives on the family:

This is the kind of social development that Anthony Giddens foresaw many years ago – experts becoming more involved in the running of people’s personal lives, it’s an extension of expert systems into people’s life-worlds.

It’s also the formalisation of the negotiated relationship mentioned by Ulrich Beck – kind of a development of it, spelling out the domains that should be negotiated – the kind of areas that couples don’t talk about – or maybe the fact that this is being suggested here tells us that couples over the last decades haven’t really been ‘negotiating’ their relationships that successfully!

Ultimately it also shows us an example of reflexivity in society – and is a criticism of Postmodernism – in this example we see that MOST of us agree that divorce is desirable and we take conscious steps to actively reduce the likelihood of it happening – which suggests Giddens’ idea of the late modern society is more appropriate than postmodernity, which suggests there is no such thing as truth anymore. This isn’t the case here – the agreed upon truth is that ‘divorce is bad’ and there’s an attempt to refine a solution.

The problem – is there’s no demand for this kind of pre-marriage service!

When you’re about to get married, you’re in love – the last thing you want to think about is codifying and quantifying that relationship into a points system which is what is being suggested here.

Also many millennials just aren’t that pragmatic – they’d rather tell the story of romantic love than this cold and calculated approach to a relationship.  

AND, will this work – in the early days of a relationship you are in the phase of ‘showing what you show’, and ‘hearing what you want to hear’ – either partner could easily over-promise.

And in England at least, talking about money is vulgar – it’s not appealing.

Finally you can’t plan for every future eventuality with children – they have this habit of being…. unpredictable at times!

Find out More

I summarised the above from an excellent radio 4 episode of Positive Thinking – you can listen to it here.

What are the Impacts of Crime on Victims?

Students of A-level sociology are required to study Victimology as part of the Crime and Deviance compulsory module, which means examiners can legitimately ask them this question!

What are the impacts of crime on Victims?

Victim Support notes the following ways in which crime can affect victims in the short and long term:

  • Feeling upset or angry (strong emotional reactions)
  • A victim may feel as if they have lost control of their life, things may spiral downwards (this kind of links to Anomie)
  • Victims may blame themselves.
  • Victims may develop physical symptoms linked to the stress of being a victim
  • Victims may develop longer term anxiety related disorders.

The site notes that the way an individual responds to a crime will depend on a number of variables such as the type of crime, whether they know the victim, the support they get from friends and family and their past experiences of crime.

NB – If you’ve been a Victim of Crime, Victim Support UK is a safe space to go get support and advice.

Personal Stories may be the best way to understand the impact on Victims….

The Cumbria police have put together a video series in which one Domestic Violence Survivor talks through how she got out of an abusive relationship…

Impacts on Victims’ families

NB – it’s not necessarily just the victim who is affected, all of the above can have negative affects on relationships and children if one member of a family is the victim of crime.

One of the most heart breaking crimes where this is felt in the UK is among the families of victims of knife crime, as outlined in this article here.

Secondary Victimisation

Secondary victimisation is when victims relive the trauma of their crime, which may occur when they are cross-examined by the prosecution team in court, or through harassment by agents of the media.

It is most commonly associated with Feminist perspectives on Crime and Deviance – historically victims of rape have also been subject to secondary victimisation when they are ‘put on trial’ by being accused of lying ny the prosecution, for example.

This report from the BBC provides stories from Victims who say they have been ‘re-traumatised by the system’.

Help for Victims of Crime

The Ministry of Justice is another place Victims can go to in order to find out more about whether they are actually victims of crime, and to seek further support as necessary.

Citizens Advice is another place offering advice about getting legal support as a victim of crime.

Why is the UK suffering from a Labour Shortage?

There are over 1 million job vacancies in the UK in September 2021, but Brexit isn’t the only reason!

There are currently over a million job vacancies in the UK, which is the most since the Office for National Statistics started keeping records!

Vacancies are mainly concentrated in low-skilled, low paid sectors such as:

  • Fruit and Vegetable Harvesting 
  • Care work  
  • Hotel work – cleaning and making beds

The BBC (link above) provide a very handy overview here:

The consequences of Labour Shortages

The Today Programme (R4 Tuesday 14th September) interviewed Ali Capper, the owner of Stocks Farm in Suckley and chair of British Apples and Pears who stated that she had advertised locally for 70 apple and pear pickers, had only 9 applications, of which one had actually followed through by doing the job.

She pointed out that her industry relies mainly on Eastern European seasonal migrant workers from countries such as Poland and Romania, and there are fewer migrants coming to the UK to work – across the fruit picking industry farms are between 10-35% down on their usual labour force.

In some cases, labour shortages are so bad farmers are telling local consumers to come and help themselves, giving away their produce for free as the only other alternative is to let it rot in the fields.

The Today programme also interviewed a guy who runs a business collecting and cleaning laundry from 12 London hotels who says that labour shortages have forced him to reduce the scale of his business – he has had to turn some of his clients down because he can’t get the staff – despite increasing wages from £10 to £15 an hour.

Why are there so many vacancies in these sectors?

Some of the growers themselves blame the government’s immigration policy since Brexit, claiming it is ideological – they refuse to let more people from Eastern Europe and expect companies that traditionally rely on workers from these countries to adapt and recruit locally.  

Analysis from The London School of Economics however suggests that things are a bit more complex. They idenfity the following reasons:

  • Many migrant workers went home during the the Pandemic to be closer to family and now many of them are reluctant to come back, at least partly because of improved opportunities at home – this was a trend BEFORE the pandemic and Brexit!
  • Brexit has made it more difficult for new migrants to come to the UK and it’s reduced the number of people wanting to come here to work because it’s tainted the UK’s image.
  • These jobs are simply too low paid to attract sufficient people to do them!
  • There are still many people on Furlough, reducing the available labour pool though that is set to come to an end shortly.

On further question we might ask is how so many people in Britain can afford NOT to work – the unemployment rate may be historically low, but there are still 3% of the population unemployed, meaning there are sufficient people in the country to do the jobs, but who are presumably able to survive without working.

The New Right might suggest the government needs to make life more difficult for these people shirking work!

Relevance to A-level sociology

These labour shortages illustrate the problems that can happen when globalisation slows down as a result of international migration becoming more difficult (whatever the reasons) and remind us how crucial global flows of labour are for keeping our economy going.

This topic probably isn’t the most relevant to any of the main modules, but it does apply somewhat to the topics of globalisation and migration, the later being relevant to the family module.

It’s also quite a nice one to get students to apply sociological perspectives too, just to get them thinking!

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