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The concept of the countryside as a middle class territory "what is meant by 'middle class territory. Three main descriptions would appear to justify such.

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Presentation on theme: "The concept of the countryside as a middle class territory "what is meant by 'middle class territory. Three main descriptions would appear to justify such."— Presentation transcript:

1 The concept of the countryside as a middle class territory "what is meant by 'middle class territory. Three main descriptions would appear to justify such as description. The first would arise if it is accepted that the conceptual essence of the English countryside is fundamentally a 'construction' of the middle classes … [A] second justification … would be middle class control of …the primary institutions and associations that influence rural social change …. A third justification … is if the middle classes dominate rural population compositions" (Hoggart, 1997, p. 254) "the tone of much writing on rural England points to a movement toward middle class population dominance" (Hoggart, p. 255) "aversion to notions of class reflects rural ideology which traditionally presents the countryside as an essentially classless society" (Cloke and Thrift, 1990).

2 The countryside as middle class territory Introduction - the notion of the countryside as a middle class territory The rise of critical rural studies The rise of the rural service class The power of the service class Problems with the new orthodoxy ? Summary

3 The rise of critical rural studies Late 1970s/1980s calls for a 'critical rural studies which had: »'independent and sceptical attitude towards rural phenomena' (Newby and Buttel, 1982, p. 3). »critical stance towards 'the structure and institutions of rural society' »Look beyond 'the clichéd and subjective experience of … people' Romanticism of community studies subject to criticism »Rural communities riven with conflict and inequality »Rural communities 'socially stratified'

4 The rise of critical rural studies Demographic studies also subject to criticism »Migration socially selective Fielding (1982)

5 The rise of critical rural studies Demographic studies also subject to criticism »Migration socially selective Fielding (1982) Discussion very generalised To highlight potential links between class and migration Suggest link to counterurbanisation given that functional/manual division of labour emerged in 1950s Thrift (1987), Cloke and Thrift (1987, 1990) Rise of the rural 'service class' Social consequences of migration Class construction and control

6 The rise of the rural service class Cloke and Thrift (1987) - 3 major changes in the class structure of 'modern capitalist societies' »The division of labour between conception/management and assembly »Rising complexity of work has necessitated the development of new skills which are highly valued but limited in supply »Consumption has also become a key issue in class formation Suggest that these changes have 'led to a sea change in the basic class structure' (p. 324) with the emergence of new 'middle classes' One major new class is the 'service class', composed of professional, managers and supervisors

7 The rise of the rural service class "In Britain, the service class has been growing rapidly in importance in numerical terms …. If the service class is taken to be represented by the managerial and professional socio-economic groups (SEGS 1,2,4,14) then it grew in size between 1971 and 1981 by … %" (Cloke and Thrift, 1987, p. 326) Seen as particularly strong in the South East of England and in rural areas Newbury District

8 The power of the service class Service power able to influence location of firms »Act as locational decision makers in industry/government »Create labour pools which attract firms »Able to choose locations and therefore need to be attracted to places »Desire environments with high social and cultural resources which stimulates consumer goods, service and development industries Presence impacts other social groups »Inflates house prices beyond others ability to pay »Create servicing the service class industries »Exercises 'community leadership', but not necessarily in everyone's interest "the strategic desire to limit house building in small scenic settlements and to concentrate growth in larger towns has promoted both the gentrification of existing housing stock in conserved locations and design consciousness in the small number of permitted dwellings, which inevitably means the construction of high-quality, high prices" (Cloke and Thrift, 1987, p. 327)

9 The power of the service class E.g. Cloke et al (1991) »'Executive housing' for senior managers and entrepreneurs promoted by the Welsh Office »Aim to attract 'footloose' external capital to develop Swansea Bay Region »'Social housing' illegal, policy over- turned on appeal

10 Problems with the orthodoxy ? Three potential problems: »Is the 'service class' a coherent group –Cloke and Thrift (1987, 1990) argue service class is 'fragmented' into 'class-fractions' by non-class social relations –Suggest much of rural life involves 'intra-class' conflicts and 'tournaments of cultural value' "proposals for new housing are not fought out just because they may affect local service-class house prices, but also because they offend against particular images of what the countryside is. This is what can give these conflicts such intensity" (Cloke and Thrift, 1990, p. 177) "Blights in the village are dilapidated farm buildings, incongruous buildings, for example with red roof tiles; modern bungalows … the village hall" (Rural resident, quoted in Cloke et al, p. 178)

11 Problems with the orthodoxy ? Three potential problems: »Is the 'service class' a coherent group –Cloke and Thrift (1987, 1990) argue service class is 'fragmented' into 'class-fractions' by non-class social relations –Suggest much of rural life involves 'intra-class' conflicts and 'tournaments of cultural value' –Is there a service class or classes Savage et al (1992) differentiate between managers, professionals and a 'new petit bourgeoisie' Esping-Anderson (1993), Agg and Phillips (1998) and Phillips (1998) idenitify a 'service proletariate'

12 Problems with the orthodoxy ? Other classes are still present in the countryside "the shifts in occupational structure which have characterised the localities of rural Wales are very different from those of, say, areas adjacent to the London metropolitan area, which have not only been much more affected by commuting patterns.... but also by.... the growth of technologically-advanced industries..... as well as substantial changes in the composition of local service employment. It seems likely, therefore, that transformations in rural Wales have generated a higher proportionate growth of working class occupational places" (Rees et al, 1989, p. 240) »Savage et al (1991), Cloke et al (1991), Williams (1989) on presence of a traditional 'petty-bourgeoisie' middle class »Continuing influence of rural landowners (Spencer, 1997; Newby, 1977)

13 Problems with the orthodoxy ? Does class matter ? "The fundamental flaw in rural geography's approach to class in the countryside has been its failure to recognise to what extent it has universalised its own universe, reflected in its own obsession with defining the middle-class or discriminating between class fractions" (Abram, 1998, p. 373) "Class formation has all but disappeared from the mainstream of intellectual attention. All the attention now focuses on social divides such as gender and sexuality, ethnicity and ecological consumption, of which the cultural turn … is both a cause and a symptom" (Cloke et al, 1995, p. 220) See debates between Abram and Hoggart, plus Phillips (1998a,b, 1999 and 2002) on connection of class to rural identities

14 Summary Critical perspective criticised community and demographic studies for neglect of class Countryside becoming a middle class territory In terms of its population and/or control and construction Service class colonisation and rural restructuring Problems with class/service class analysis


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