Framing The World Through My Photographs
Whilst neoliberalism in terms of the ‘free possessive individual’ (Stuart Hall) is a good theory. During my research I have begun to question whether this idealistic approach is flawed in Britain today, due to the class system that has developed in Britain. Would neoliberalism arguably work better in countries that don’t have a less defined class system like Britain i.e. Australia?
During this project my thoughts have batted to and fro as to whether I agree with the neoliberal approach and cutting the welfare state or not. I decided to take the tac of looking into class affects in an area such as Rusholme. I looked closely at Imogen Tyler’s text ‘Britain and it’s poor’, as she describes the old and the new class systems. Before starting this project I had never thought of Britain as still having a defined class system like in the stereotypical television dramas such as Downton Abbey. I have always been aware of the term chav throughout my adolescence but I had never viewed them as the term for ‘the underclass of Britain’, I have always seen them popularised with such media profiles such as little Britain’s Vicky Pollard. Before going to Rusholme I perceived the area as being a ‘chavy’, rough area, plagued with gang culture. However whilst walking round the area although I still felt slightly uncomfortable as it’s an area I am not as familiar with, I found the people weren’t as intimidating as I had first imagined. When walking into the city centre it was clear to see that there was a lack of resources put into the area of Rusholme to keep it clean and tidy, unlike the city centre and around the Universities where the area was spotless. Many would argue that the high level of unemployment and the poor educational results in the area of Rusholme and the neighbouring community of Moss side is present due to the neoliberal government policies. In Tony Blairs speech in 1997 which he delivered in Aylesbury Estate, Southwark, he stated that the government wanted to “give people back the will to win”, however the recent government policies of capping unemployment benefit, decreasing the welfare state and privatisation, the opposite is now arguably happening. Those at the poorer end of the system are more trapped than ever, as McDonald et al. says ” the people within churning low pay , no pay careers at the bottom end of the labour market, are kept in poverty rather than lifting them out of it.” Which contributes to the perception that Rusholme is at the ‘loosing end of the class system.’
When gathering my thoughts I concluded that it would seem that people are in an on going cycle that is difficult to break, leaving them trapped by a system they struggle to play. Although it is argued that the neoliberal system is partly to blame for this it could also be argued that the work ethic and attitude of people particularly on benefits is also an never-ending circle. For example, if a child is born into a family that does not and has never worked the child could potentially follow suit of their family, as confirmed by Dorling in 2007, who said ” a child’s chances in life are now more determined by where (and to whom ) they were born as compared to any other date in the last 651 years.” Producing an attitude that they don’t need to work hard at school as there is no longer the attitude to strive to achieve a successful career. Of course there are exceptions to this, for example Lord Alan Sugar and Richard Branson who left school with no qualifications and now run multi million pound businesses, though these are of course in the minority. It could be argued that working to the neoliberal way could lift you out of this trapped cycle of class and poverty, but it would seem benefit Britain is too set in it ways to realise this. Meaning the prison of class and poverty is hard to break out of.
Whilst researching both sides of the argument for this project to gain a true critical analysis, I found I could see merit in both.Therefore I decided to create various artefacts that shows my thoughts as they developed.
I have created the above image as my main artefact as having visited and researched the area of Rusholme, it struck a cord of marked similarity to the Aylesbury Estate, Southwark where Tony Blair delivered his first speech as prime minister in 1997. He said that “the poorest people in our country have been forgotten. They have been left out of growing prosperity, told that they are not needed, ignored by government.”
After walking around Rusholme I came away feeling that this was also an area that had been forgotten, ignored, ‘swept under the carpet.’
Neoliberal system for and against.
Both of the below items are to show my thought processes during this project. They reflect my opinions as they developed throughout my readings.
I created this montage to demonstrate that my feeling is that Britain is trapped in a never-ending cycle, which isn’t helped by some of the neoliberal suggestions, i.e cutting the welfare state by capping benefits. I have used various newspaper headlines along with photos I captured in Rusholme . I have used the red and blue colours to represent political parties, red represents labour and blue represents conservative.I have used the prison bars as the representation of being trapped.
I created this cartoon to show the ladder of success in terms of working to get a full time employment. I used the notion of the ladder to show that you can’t just get to the top, you have to climb through stages. I have used three different stages, the school boy, university student and a person in full time employment. The flags represent ways of climbing out of the welfare state. Working hard to achieve goals and becoming a self made person follows the neoliberal idealistic. As McDonald says ’employment is the best route out of poverty,” and to get there a good education and work ethic is fundamental.