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The Troubled Families Programme

The Troubled Families Programme is a good example of a New Right social policy aimed at tackling criminality by targeting the so called underclass, it basically involves local authority workers intervening in so called troubled families in order to get them to take responsibility for their behaviour.

troubled-families
The New Right claim we need to intervene in the lives of a few hundred thousand ‘troubled families’, but are there really that many ‘troubled families’?

Following the riots in 2011, a new government initiative, the Troubled Families Programme (TFP), was announced, which set out to ‘turn around’ the 120,000 most ‘troubled families’ in England by May 2015.

The second phase of the TFP is now underway, following the ‘successful’ completion of Phase 1. The ‘massive expansion’ of the programme, to include 400,000 more ‘troubled families’, with wider-ranging criteria for inclusion, was announced in July 2013, when only 1 per cent of ‘troubled families’ had been ‘turned around’.

The concept of ‘troubled families’ came into the public consciousness in the aftermath of the English riots in 2011. Structural factors, such as poverty and racial inequality and injustice, were eschewed as possible factors behind the riots in favour of an explanation of ‘pure criminality’. Rioters were, in Cameron’s words, ‘people with a twisted moral code, people with a complete absence of self- restraint’. The blame for the riots, in the governments’ eyes, was split between poor parenting and anti-social families, and an overly generous welfare system that encouraged delinquency

london-riots
The London Rioters – David Cameron claimed most of them were from ‘troubled families’

In December 2011, the TFP was launched to help realise Cameron’s ambition to ‘turn round’ the lives of the 120,000 ‘troubled families’

The TFP then, was a policy response designed to not just address the problems caused by ‘troubled families’, but to also completely change the way the state interacted with them. Local authorities were expected to deliver the programme using a ‘family intervention’ approach (DCLG, 2012a) which had been rolled out to 53 areas in England under the previous Labour government’s Respect agenda. This approach sees a single ‘persistent, assertive and challenging’ (ibid) key worker working intensively with the family ‘from the inside out’ to address their problems, encouraging them to take responsibility for their circumstances.

Definitions

‘Troubled families’ were officially defined as those who met three of the four following criteria:

  • Are involved in youth crime or anti-social behaviour
  • Have children who are regularly truanting or not in school
  • Have an adult on out of work benefits
  • Cause high costs to the taxpayer

Payment by Results

All 152 local authorities in England ‘signed up’ to take part in the TFP which was to be run on a Payment by Results basis, with local authorities paid an attachment fee for each ‘troubled family’ they worked with, and a further allocation of funding dependent on certain outcomes being met.

Families were deemed to have been ‘turned around’ if:

  1. Educational attendance improved above 85%, youth crime reduced by 33% and anti-social behaviour reduced by 60% across the family, or
  2. A family member moved off out-of-work benefits and into continuous employment for three or six months, depending on the benefits they were initially receiving (ibid)

Claims for ‘turning around’ ‘troubled families’ were submitted by local authorities on a quarterly basis.

In August 2014, further detail was announced on the expansion of the programme. The ‘new’ ‘troubled families’ were families that met two out of the following six criteria:

  • Parents and children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour
  • Children who have not been attending school regularly
  • Children who need help
  • Adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion and young people at risk of worklessness
  • Families affected by domestic violence and abuse
  • Parents and children with a range of health problems

In May 2015, the government published figures that showed that local authorities had ‘turned around’ 99 per cent of ‘troubled families’. David Cameron called it a ‘real government success’.

troubled_families_progress
The government claims 99% of ‘troubled families’ lives have been ‘turned around’ – but both of these are extremely vague concepts!

Criticisms of the Troubled Families Programme

The Centre for Crime and Justice is very sceptical about the success-claims made by the government . They actually suggest 10 reasons why we should be suspicious of the 99% success rate, which they call a social policy impossibility, especially in an era of government cuts, but I’m going to focus on just two criticisms, which taken together seem to strongly suggest that the government is simply lying about the effectiveness of the TFP – I mean as in not just manipulating statistics, just literally lying.

Firstly – ‘Troubled Families’ are not actually that troubled

How ‘troublesome’ are ‘troubled families’?

In contrast to the image of ‘troubled families’ as ‘neighbours from hell’ where drug and alcohol addictions, crime and irresponsibility ‘cascade through generations’, an interim report from the national evaluation of the TFP (DCLG, 2014b) shows that in ‘troubled families’:

  • 85% ‘had no adults with a criminal offence in the previous six months
  • 97% had children with one or zero offences in the previous six months
  • 84% had children who were not permanently excluded from school
  • 26% had at least one adult in work
  • 93% had no adults clinically diagnosed as being dependent on alcohol

The only characteristics shared by the majority of ‘troubled families’ are that they are white, not in work, live in social housing and have at least one household member experiencing poor health, illness and/or a disability. Crime, anti-social behaviour and substance abuse, even at relatively low levels, are all characteristics which relate to small minorities of official ‘troubled families’.

Secondly, we don’t actually know if lives really been ‘turned around’?

When many ‘troubled families’ experience unemployment and poor health, and some of them also experience issues such as domestic violence, it is unclear to what extent their lives will have been ‘turned around’ by the programme.

Only 10 per cent of all ‘turned around’ families gained work and, as noted above, no detail is known about the quality or security of that work.

Changes to educational attendance and anti-social behaviour/crime levels within households accounted for around 90 per cent of the ‘turned around’ families, but government figures show that the majority of ‘troubled families’ had children who were already attending school and were not committing large amounts of crime or anti-social behaviour on entry into the programme.

Furthermore, we do not know how many ‘turned around’ families are still experiencing domestic violence, poor mental health or other issues such as poor quality or overcrowded housing, poverty or material deprivation, because this information has not been reported by the government.

Further problems with assessing the effectiveness of the TFP

Basically, we don’t have the data to make an accurate assessment, hence why I say above that the government must be lying when they claim a 99% success rate.

Also, at present we are also not aware of whether the families consider their lives to have been ‘turned around’ by their involvement with the programme, or whether their lives remained ‘turned around’ after the intensive support was withdrawn.

It should also be noted that many families will not know that they have been labelled as ‘troubled families’ because many local authorities choose not to inform them of this and use different names for their local programmes.

Further Reading

The main source used in this post was: Stephen Crossley, The Troubled Families Programme: the perfect social policy? – Briefing Paper – November 2015

In defence of the troubled families programme (Conservative Home)

More than £1bn has had little impact on ‘troubled families’ (The Guardian)

 

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Toxic Childhood – Sociology In the News!

toxic-childhoodSue Palmer’s (2006) book Toxic Childhood argued that children were being harmed by a combination of technological and social changes such as increasingly screen based lifestyles, a hyper-competitive education system, the decline of outdoor play and the commercialisation of childhood.

Palmer argued that changes to childhood resulted in harms such as higher obesity levels, reduced concentration spans, and increasing mental health problems.

This recent Guardian article (December 2016) demonstrates the continued relevance of this book and the concept of Toxic Childhood –

A group of 40 leading authors, educationalists and child-development experts is calling on the government to introduce national guidelines on the use of screens, amid concern about the impact on children’s physical and mental health. Among them are the author Philip Pullman, and the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Philip Pullman At London Zoo
Pullman – I guess he’d rather children read his books than watched the movie versions!

The letter calls for the development of kindergarten-style education for three- to seven-year-olds, with emphasis on social and emotional development and outdoor play; and says guidelines on screen-based technology for children up to 12 should be drawn up by recognised authorities on child health and development.

It is 10 years since the group sent its first letter to the media (inspired by Palmer’s book), expressing concern about the way it believes children’s health and well-being. Since then, they say, obesity and mental health problems among young people approaching crisis levels.

Sue Palmer, the author of Toxic Childhood, is among the letter’s signatories, she argues that “Without concerted action, our children’s physical and mental health will continue to deteriorate, with long-term results for UK society that are frankly unthinkable.”

Palmer says there are just two essential ingredients if children are to survive and thrive whatever the future brings: love and play.

sue-palmer
Sue Palmer – Author of Toxic Childhood – ‘all children need is love and play’

However, not everyone subscribes to the doom-laden view of modern childhood and the “toxic” environment in which children are growing up. Recent studies have suggested that screen-based technology can encourage reading in boys from low-income families and that there may be a positive link between computer games and academic performance.

Then again, Whitney Houston reminds us that ‘children are the Future’, which pretty much proves Palmer right….

 

Related links

Toxic Childhood and Paranoid Parenting (the conflict view of childhood)

Sue Palmer.co.uk – used to be a great site on Toxic Childhood, but it’s currently under reconstruction (Dec 2016) – hopefully it’ll be just as straightforward when it resurfaces!

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Why workers aren’t benefiting from the automation of jobs…

The increasing automation of jobs could (should?) result in us all working less – but instead, most of us seem to working just as longer hours as ever, why is this – a little dose of Marxism actually goes a long way to explaining this…

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The automation of jobs – no longer limited to the manufacturing sector

What’s below is taken from the LSE blog (Jan 2015), written by David Spencer….

Technological progress has advanced continuously over the past century, pushing up productivity. But not all the gains in productivity have fed through to shorter work hours. At least in modern times, these gains have been used to increase the returns of the owners of capital, often at the cost of flatlining pay for workers.

The lack of progress in reducing time spent at work in modern capitalist economies reflects instead the influence of ideology as well as of power….

David Graeber makes the provocative claim that technology has advanced at the same time as what he calls “bullshit” or pointless jobs have multiplied. This is why we have not realised Keynes’ prediction that we’d all be working 15-hour weeks in the 21st century, as a result of technological progress.

Instead, we are living in a society where work gets created that is of no social value. The reason for this, according to Graeber, is the need of the ruling class to keep workers in work. While technology with the potential to reduce work time exists, the political challenge of a working population with time on its hands makes the ruling class unwilling to realise this potential. Working less, while feasible and desirable, is blocked by political factors.

infographicv4.jpg

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Trends in Global Wealth Inequality and Poverty

Global wealth inequality is increasing, but how can we explain this, is this is a problem, and what could we do to make the world a more equal place?

Trends in Global Wealth Inequality and Poverty

world wealth 2016.png

According to the 2016 Global Wealth Report produced by Credit Suisse, wealth inequality in 2016, measured by the share of the wealthiest 1 percent and wealthiest 10 percent of adults, as compared to the rest of the world’s adult population, continues to rise.

While the bottom half collectively own less than 1 percent of total wealth, the wealthiest top 10 percent own 89 percent of all global assets.

NB – You need to look at the pyramid below carefully, what it shows (to compare the very top and bottom) is as follows:

  • The richest 33 million people (0.7% of the world’s population ) control $116 trillion, or 45.6% of the world’s wealth, or more than $1 million each
  • The poorest 3.5 billion people (73% of the world’s population) control only $6.1 trillion of wealth, or less than $10, 000 in wealth each.

global-wealth-pyramid

NB – Inequality is no longer simply a matter of poor people living in less developed countries and rich people living in more developed countries -there are plenty of millionaires in low and middle income countries – the report notes that ‘today, emerging nations are home to 18 percent of the world’s ultra-high net worth population. China alone accounts for 9 percent of the top decile of global wealth holders, which is well above France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.’

However, this is hardly cause for celebrations, it simply means that not only is global inequality increasing across the world as a whole, but also within most countries in the world – there are billions of poor people living right alongside those millionaires in low income countries!

The infographic below, taken from the World Economic Forum Website (published 2015), displays global wealth inequality more simply, and it’s also easier to remember:the richest 1% control 50% of the world’s wealth, while the poorest 50% control less than 1%.

global-inequalities

Finally, to turn to trends in inequality over time, the chart below, also taken from the World Economic Forum website, shows how the global share of wealth controlled by the wealthiest 1% has increased from 45% to 50%, while the share of the ‘other 99%’ has decreased from 55% to 50%. (The chart below is derived from Oxfam’s 2016 Report: An Economy for the 1%?)

global-wealth-inequalities

Oxfam further notes that:

  • The wealth of the richest 62 people has risen by 45% in the five years since 2010 – that’s an increase of more than half a trillion dollars ($542bn), to $1.76 trillion.
  • Meanwhile, the wealth of the bottom half fell by just over a trillion dollars in the same period – a drop of 38%.
  • Since the turn of the century, the poorest half of the world’s population has received just 1% of the total increase in global wealth, while half of that increase has gone to the top 1%

Some Potential Problems with Statistics on Global Wealth Inequalities

  • Firstly, there are issues with reliability when tracking global inequality – different nations tally income and wealth in different ways, and some nations barely tally reliable stats at all
  • Secondly, you may have noticed that you get different figures depending on what groups your comparing – things look very different if you compare the top 1% to the rest, rather than comparing the top ten percent to the the bottom ten percent, or the top 50% to the bottom 50%. You might like to think about which is the most ‘valid’ comparison to give you a fair idea of global wealth inequalities (tough question!?)

Why has Wealth Inequality Increased?

What we are asking here, in short form is – how have the rich got so rich, and why have the poor lagged behind? In this section I summarise for changes which are correlated with increasing wealth inequality, all taken from the the Oxfam Report referred to above: Neoliberal economic policy; the global tax haven system, the growth of the financial sector and increasing returns to capital versus labour:

Neoliberal Economic Policy 

Neoliberal Economic and policy changes over the past 30 years – including deregulation, privatization, financial secrecy and globalization – have supercharged the ability of the rich and powerful to to further concentrate their wealth.

For example, companies working in oil, gas and other extractive industries are using their economic power in many different ways to secure their dominant position. They lobby to secure government subsidies – tax breaks – to prevent the emergence of green alternatives. In Brazil and Mexico, indigenous peoples are disproportionately affected by the destruction of their traditional lands when forests are eroded for mining or intensive large-scale farming. When privatized – as happened in Russia after the fall of communism for example – huge fortunes are generated overnight for a small group of individuals.

The Global Network of Tax Havens

A powerful example of an economic system that is rigged to work in the interests of the powerful is the global spider’s web of tax havens and the industry of tax avoidance, which has blossomed over recent decades. The system is maintained by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professionals in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries.

U S Companies tax havens.jpg

As taxes go unpaid due to widespread avoidance, this leads to cuts in vital public services and that governments increasingly rely on indirect taxation, like VAT, which falls disproportionately on the poorest people.

This global system of tax avoidance is sucking the life out of welfare states in the rich world. It also denies poor countries the resources they need to tackle poverty, put children in school and prevent their citizens dying from easily curable diseases.

Almost a third (30%) of rich Africans’ wealth – a total of $500bn – is held offshore in tax havens. It is estimated that this costs African countries $14bn a year in lost tax revenues. This is enough money to pay for healthcare that could save the lives of 4 million children and employ enough teachers to get every African child into school.

Tax avoidance is a problem that is rapidly getting worse and has rightly been described by the International Bar Association as an abuse of human rights and by the President of the World Bank as ‘a form of corruption that hurts the poor’.

Increasing Returns to Capital Versus Labour

One of the key trends underlying increasing wealth inequality is the increasing return to capital versus labour. In almost all rich countries and in most developing countries, the share of national income going to workers has been falling. This means workers are capturing less and less of the gains from growth. In contrast, the owners of capital have seen their capital consistently grow (through interest payments, dividends, or retained profits) faster than the rate the economy has been growing.

capital-and-labor

NB This article in The Economist challenges the idea that there are increasing returns to capital versus labour!

The Growth of the Financial Sector

The financial sector has grown most rapidly in recent decades, and a recent study by the OECD10 showed that countries with oversized financial sectors suffer from greater economic instability and higher inequality. Certainly, the public debt crisis caused by the financial crisis, bank bailouts and subsequent austerity policies has hurt the poorest people the most.

NB 1 -if you want more theoretical explanations of increasing inequality – look at Dependency Theory and World Systems Theory – much of this is applicable here. You might also like to look at ‘Why Nations Fail‘. 

NB2 – given that measuring inequality involves measuring relative wealth – that is what percentage share to the richest 10% control compared to other 90%, for example, then we’re necessarily looking at a zero sum game – If the richest 10% go from controlling 40% of the world’s wealth to 60% of the worlds wealth, then the amount of wealth controlled by the other 90% of the population must fall from a 60% share to a 40% share. 

Is Increasing Global Inequality a Problem for Humanity?

Neoliberals argue that increasing inequality isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the important thing is that even though the rich have got richer compared to the poor, the poor have also got richer, just not as rapidly as the rich and the middle.

poverty

However, Oxfam argues that growing economic inequality is bad for us all for the following reasons:

  • It undermines growth and social cohesion and the consequences for the world’s poorest people are particularly severe.
  • Had inequality within countries not grown since 2010, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently found that countries with higher income inequality also tend to have larger gaps between women and men in terms of health, education, labour market participation, and representation in institutions like parliaments.
  • The gender pay gap was also found to be higher in more unequal societies. It is worth noting that 53 of the world’s richest 62 people are men.
  • From and ecological point of view, there’s even more injustice: the poorest people live in areas most vulnerable to climate change, the poorest half of the global population are responsible for only around 10% of total global emissions.  The average footprint of the richest 1% globally could be as much as 175 times that of the poorest 10%.

What can we do to make the world a more equal place?

Oxfam notes that inequality is not inevitable. The current system did not come about by accident; it is the result of deliberate policy choices, of our leaders listening to the 1% and their supporters rather than acting in the interests of the majority. It is time to reject this broken economic model.

As a priority, Oxfam is calling on all world leaders to agree a global approach to end the era of tax havens

end-tax-havens

World leaders need to commit to a more effective approach to ending tax havens and harmful tax regimes, including non-preferential regimes. It is time to put an end to the race to the bottom in general corporate taxation. Ultimately, all governments – including developing countries on an equal footing – must agree to create a global tax body that includes all governments with the objective of ensuring that national tax systems do not have negative global implications.

In addition Oxfam is calling on leaders to take action to show they are on the side of the majority through doing the following:

  • Keep the influence of powerful elites in check: for example by reforming the regulatory environment, particularly around transparency in government; separating business from campaign financing; and introducing measures to close revolving doors between big business and government.
  • Share the tax burden fairly to level the playing field: by shifting the tax burden away from labour and consumption and towards wealth, capital and income from these assets; increasing transparency on tax incentives; and introducing national wealth taxes.
  • Pay workers a living wage and close the gap with executive rewards: by increasing minimum wages towards living wages; with transparency on pay ratios; and protecting workers’ rights to unionize and strikes.
  • Use progressive public spending to tackle inequality: by prioritizing policies, practice and spending that increase financing for free public health and education to fight poverty and inequality at a national level. Refrain from implementing unproven and unworkable market reforms to public health and education systems, and expand public sector rather than private sector delivery of essential services.

Selected Sources

Credit Suisse – The World Wealth Report (November 2016)

Oxfam – An Economy for the 1% (Jan 2016)

Inequality on the Rise? (2012)

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Noam Chomsky – The Decline of the U.S Superpower?

In this talk Noam Chomsky emphasises that Trump’s election and his climate change denial threaten the very existence of the planet and the human species; and he also reminds us that despite America’s increasing political isolationism, U.S. Corporations still reign supreme.

Chomsky starts by saying that he was in Spain when he heard the results of the U.S. election, and the various commotion and commentary which surrounded it, but in fact the first very real negative consequence of Trump’s victory happened on the very same day and yet went largely unnoticed by the world’s media.

At the very same time as the U.S. presidential election results were being announced and analysed, COP 22 was taking place in Morocco, which was the first meeting of the signatories to the Paris Climate Change agreement (COP21) at which most countries agreed in principle to take concrete action to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and try to slow down global warming.

paris-climate-change-agreement
The Paris Climate Change Agreement – Ruined by the Election of Donald Trump?

Because the specifics of the actions to be taken had been left vague after the Paris meeting, the point of COP 22 in Morocco was to start to add in the specific details of the agreement, however, following Trump’s election, and his commitment to scrapping current environmental regulation and monitoring in the U.S., COP 22 ended with no further progress having been made.

In fact, the agenda of the global climate change framework has now changed to one of ‘how can we combat global warming without the U.S. on board’, and nations have now started to look to authoritarian, anti-democratic China for leadership if any progress is to be made in this area.

Chomsky is very clear that environmental catastrophe is now one of the biggest threats facing the survival of the species (the other is nuclear war), and he focuses on Asia to highlight the coming global problems.

In the next few years, 10s of millions of people will be fleeing from Bangladesh because of the severe level of global warming resulting in sea levels rising, which would be a real refugee crisis, unlike the present one which he casts as a ‘moral crisis’ of the European Union.

(According to one climate change scientists, these climate change migrants should have the right to move to the United States and other rich countries that are causing global warming.)

Again in Asia, a second environmental crisis looms in India and Pakistan, in the form of potential conflict over scarce water resources – two states with nuclear weapons, which potentially trigger a survival crisis for the human species.

Chomsky’s next point is that U.S. isolation in the world is increasing in remarkable ways: the U.S. had been heavily involved in South and Latin America in the decades following World War Two, but the IMF has been completely kicked out of some countries in this region and has no military basis in the region at all; elsewhere in the world the TTIP has all but collapsed and other trading blocks are growing in scope, mainly centring around China, which are drawing in some of America’s historical allies such as Peru and New Zealand; finally with Brexit America has lost it’s main ally in Europe, the U.K., which could reduce its influence in Nato.

By looking at national wealth, it seems that U.S. influence is in decline, as its share has shrunk from 50% in 1945 to 25% today,

However, these measurements fail to take into account the crucial factor of the ownership of the world economy – which is virtually never discussed – CORPORATE ownership of wealth.

U.S. Companies Power.jpg
U.S. Companies still own 50% of the world’s wealth

If we look at Corporate wealth, U.S. Companies are well in the lead in terms of ownership of the the global economy, and they are own over 50% of the world’s wealth in nearly every sector of the global economy – manufacturing, finance, services etc… of course although this wealth is held in the U.S. and supported by public money, it is not shared by all the citizens of the U.S.

If you look at the military dimension, the U.S. is of course still supreme.

Chomsky finishes by reminding us that the threats we now face are matters of human survival and they cannot be ignored, they need to be faced directly and soon if the human experiment is not to be a disastrous failure!

How to use this in the Global Development Module?

Basically it fits into the ‘how important are nation states’ aspect of the course.

Firstly, Chomsky seems to be suggesting that the United States still has enormous influence in the world – in that its lack of action on climate change means that it is able to disrupt the ability of other nation states to take coordinated action on climate change (whether this actually happens remains to be seen).

Secondly, it seems that other countries are becoming more powerful than the United States, and the U.S. is losing its political influence in certain ways.

However, if we look at the real ‘power indicators’ – wealth and military expenditure – the U.S. is still by far the dominant superpower.

Related Posts 

Sustainable Development – explores some of the environmental challenges facing the world

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The Long History of the ‘Underclass’ Thesis

Charles Murray’s Underclass Theory – the idea that there is a ‘hardcore’ of a few hundred thousand families and individuals who are welfare-dependent and responsible a disproportionate amount of crime in society has a long history:

  • In Victorian times there was a concern about a ‘social residuum’, and shortly afterwards it was ‘unemployables’ who were the target of social reformers and politicians.
  • The Eugenics Society was influential in promoting the ‘social problem group’ in the 1930s and the idea of ‘problem families’ in the years following the Second World War.
  • In the 1960s, Oscar Lewis, the cultural anthropologist, popularised the heavily racialised ‘culture of poverty’ theory in the USA.
  • Sir Keith Joseph, former Conservative MP, raised the issue of a ‘cycle of deprivation’ in the 1970s.
  • In the 1980s and 1990s, American academic Charles Murray suggested that a ‘plague’ had crossed the Atlantic in the form of an ‘underclass’.
  • New Labour expressed concern about 2.5% of people who were ‘socially excluded’ in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
  • The development of the Respect agenda in the 2000s raised the issue of ‘problem families’ once again.

However, these ideas have flourished, despite no robust evidence which supports the idea of an ‘underclass’, whatever it is called. Professor David Gordon, who led the recent Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom study, the largest ever research project of its kind, has offered the following view of such concepts:

These ideas are unsupported by any substantial body of evidence. Despite almost 150 years of scientific investigation, often by extremely partisan investigators, not a single study has ever found any large group of people/households with any behaviours that could be ascribed to a culture or genetics of poverty … any policy based on the idea that there are a group of ‘Problem Families’ who ‘transmit’ their ‘poverty/deprivation’ to their children will inevitably fail, as this idea is a prejudice, unsupported by scientific evidence. (Gordon, 2011)

Source: Stephen Crossley, The Troubled Families Programme: the perfect social policy? – Briefing Paper – November 2015

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Hints for A Level Sociology Paper 3 (Crime and Deviance)

A few hints for how I recommend answering the Crime and Deviance section of AQA’s paper 3 (which also contains theory and methods, more of that later). NB – What’s below isn’t endorsed by the AQA, but it’s my best interpretation based on what I’ve been told works.

Questions 1 and 2 (4 and 6 mark short answer questions) –‘Outline two ways/ Outline three reasons’

  • Point (1 mark) + Explanation (1 mark)
  • Do this (two times over for question 1, three times over for question 2)
  • Bullet point each point and explanation.

Question 3 – The Outline and Analyse Question (10 marks) – ‘Using material from Item A, outline and Analyse two ways in which…’

  • Read the item – this will give you your two ways (it will effectively limit you to two points)
  • For each of the two points, make two further analytical points to develop that point, and ideally evaluate it.
  • Do this twice.

Question 4 – The essay question (30 marks) Applying material from Item B evaluate something

  • Read the question – if it asks you to do two things, make sure you do both
  • Read the item – at least two of your points should stem from the item
  • Make 3-6 total points depending on the essay – deeper or broader
  • Use the Point –Explain – Expand (analyse) – Evaluate structure
  • If it’s a perspectives essay, evaluate using other perspectives towards the end of the essay as you build up to your conclusion.

 

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Chas and Dave on Modern Relationships

Chas and Dave may not realise it, but I think many of their songs demonstrate how their (working class male) experience of the shift in gender-relations and the emergence of the pure relationship hasn’t been a comfortable one…

‘London Girls’ seems to be a a clear indication of what they want in a woman….a simple, traditional ‘girl’ who does your washing, mends your clothes and doesn’t complain when you leave your tat lying around the house…

Sorry to say lads, but that kind of traditional ‘gal is a rare find these days, especially among working class couples, where it’s more likely that both partners will have to work to survive, so they’re pretty much setting themselves up for frustration wishing for the past.

 

In another song, ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You’, Anthony Giddens might point out that this is an inevitable consequence of the ‘Pure Relationship’ now being the typical type of relationship in late-modern society.

From this analytical point of view, the lads might lament a little less – it’s not that one of them in-particular was never good enough, it’s that in the age of individualised relationships, where we both expect more but don’t have the time to make sufficient compromises, most (yes – MOST) relationships are doomed to failure.

 

The Song ‘Rabbit’ seems to further indicate a negative experience of their partners’ constant chatter – despite having ‘wonderful arms, and…. charms’ (I kid you not, it’s an actual line in the song), they can’t stand her constant talking.

Ulrich Beck might point out that this is something which is much more likely to be expected in the age of the negotiated family, where the expectations of relationships constantly shift, and so require more discussion to keep them on track.

 

You could also interpret Chas and Dave’s music as something of a reaction against cosmopolitanism – they’ve been around the world, yet all they want is Jellied Eels and a Pint, thank you very much. I guess if they wan’t cheering up, they could always go down to Margate… I’ve heard it’s pretty reactionary down that way….

 

P.S. When it comes to the Heathrow Christmas advert – I’m with Charlie Brooker – This is just too weird, they should never have gone there!

 

Blame Relative Deprivation and YouTube for this Post!

So there I was on Zoopla having a new years gawp at how I could buy a three bedroom end of terrace house in Margate for £50K less than my two bed flat in Surrey – and that ‘Down to Margate’ song popped into my head. A few clicks and a few songs later the idea for this post just sort of emerged… Sorry!

 

 

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The Increase in Smoking in Poorer Countries

Smoking is on the increase in several low income and middle income countries according to this World Health Organisation data, published in the World Bank’s recent review of 2016

smoking

According to the World Health Organisation up to 80% of the world’s tobacco users now live in low and middle income countries, with younger people especially taking up smoking in increasing numbers.

Why is Smoking Increasing in Poorer Countries?

In Short, it seems that since governments in developed countries have made it more difficult for tobacco companies to kill people in rich countries, they’ve now moved on to trying to kill people in poor countries instead.

tobacco-advertising-poor-countries

A recent Guardian article summarising this World Health Organisation report, notes that:

The latest evidence shows that tobacco industry marketing remains a significant global problem, particularly for people in the poorest countries who are the most exposed to it. Our study examined tobacco marketing in 16 countries.

  • In communities in low-income countries, 81 times more tobacco adverts were observed than in high-income countries.
  • People in lower-income countries were 46 times more likely to hear radio adverts, 11 times more likely to see poster adverts and nine times more likely to see television adverts than those living in high-income countries.
  • Access to tobacco was also higher in poorer countries. In low-income countries, we observed two and a half times more stores selling tobacco in the communities in the low-income and lower-middle-income countries than in the high-income countries. Worryingly, 64% of stores visited sold single cigarettes compared with just 2.8% in high-income countries.

This high level of marketing in poorer countries is consistent with the tobacco industry’s targeting of these countries. They are key to the industry’s future. In the west, the tobacco industry’s profits continue to increase despite the decline in smoking rates , but it is unclear how long this pricing power will hold out in the face of growing regulations.

How to Reduce Smoking in the Developing World?

The World Health Organisation notes that there are several things that effectively reduce the use of tobacco consumption:

  • Banning positive advertising for cigarettes, although there are only total bans in 29 countries worldwide.
  • Promoting negative advertising – those horrible picture adds about how smoking causes disease apparently work
  • Taxation – a 10% increase in the price reduces smoking by 5% in low income countries.
  • NB – A further challenge here is tackling Organised Crime – and their role in smuggling tax-free cigarettes, which can subvert national taxation policies.

This is a useful little data-case-study for lots of reasons

  • It’s a good example of the negative role TNCs play in development
  • It’s a good example of a critique of neoliberalism – it seems that regulation by the government – of advertising and through taxes for example – can really help reduce smoking.
  • This kind of reminds me of ‘Runaway World’ – we know what works to reduce smoking, but what with both TNCs and Organised crime having so much to gain financially from cigarettes, it seems unlikely that governments are going to get a handle on this problem any time soon!
  • Finally this is also a slap in the face to ethnocentrism – You (I did until today!) were probably under the impression that smoking’s on the decline – well it may be in the UK – but looked at globally it’s not.