Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice

The issues involved in poverty, inequality and social justice are many and varied, from basic access to education and healthcare, to the financial crisis and resulting austerity, and now COVID-19. Addressing Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 5: Gender Equality, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, our list both presents research on these topics and tackles emerging problems. A key series in the area is the SSSP Agendas for Social Justice.

This focus has always been at the heart of our publishing with the view to making the research in this area as visible and accessible as possible in order to maximise its potential impact.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Poverty, inequality and social justice, we aim to address the following goals: 

Poverty, Inequality and Social Justice

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This chapter takes a more organic approach to understanding community organisation. It focuses on the history of community organising in the USA, looking at the development of the Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago. The chapter focuses on the importance of links to the School of Sociology at the University of Chicago in the development of this model of organising. It highlights the emphasis on community-led problem solving that was pioneered in Chicago during the 1940s. The chapter then looks at the export of this model of politics to England in 1989 and its development in east London. Focusing on the work being done in Tower Hamlets, the chapter explores why different groups join the alliance Citizens UK, the challenges of population mobility and the importance of scale. In relation to the development of localism, it makes the case for greater emphasis to be focused on organising at the neighbourhood scale.

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This chapter takes a long view of the British state and its geographical division of powers. Stretching over 500 years the chapter looks at the history of local government and its origins in the parish. It then focuses on the gradual centralisation and standardisation that took place from the early nineteenth century. The chapter also looks at the rise of democratic social movements that promoted new forms of localism during the 1960s. This legacy frames the challenges in developing localist statecraft and citizenship today. The chapter ends with an overview of the shifting spatial orders of English government from the seventeenth century to the present day.

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Picking up the themes raised by the previous two chapters, this chapter focuses on the creation of neighbourhood forums as a product of the Localist Act (2011). New rights to neighbourhood planning have led to the creation of these new forums in urban areas where parishes had long been abolished. The chapter looks at the development of neighbourhood planning in Exeter St James (Devon), Holbeck (Leeds, Yorkshire) and Highgate (London). It outlines the community-led work that has been done by these forums, and the challenges faced where the community has limited capacity to act independently (in this case in Holbeck in Leeds). The research again highlights the importance of shifting the power relations between the council and the local community.

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This chapter introduces the key arguments of the book. It outlines the challenges faced in efforts to devolve political power within a polity. It contrasts the new localist statecraft with the practices associated with New Labour’s governments [1997-2010]. It also highlights the danger that localism will expose and widen existing geographical differences in community organisation and capacity. The chapter argues that the centralisation of the British state has positioned the local as necessarily parochial, defensive and reactionary. Rethinking the possibilities of localism thus requires rethinking the inherited political geography of the British state as well as our intellectual traditions. The final paragraph introduces the structure and content of the rest of the book.

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This chapter concludes the book. It highlights the fact that the four different research projects – Poplar’s Neighbourhood Community Budget, Lambeth’s local government, neighbourhood planning and community organising in east London – all exposed the importance of citizens having the institutional infrastructure required to engage in localist statecraft. In each case, people needed an independent neighbourhood forum in order to represent their own diversity, identify a shared agenda, negotiate with state-funded organisations and organise activity to promote their work. The chapter looks at the development of Queen’s Park Community Council in West London as an example of the potential of this kind of organisation to shape local politics. The chapter ends by highlighted the unexpected – and counter-cultural – emergence of parish-scale civic organisation as being critical to good government in twenty-first century England.

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This chapter looks at the way local government can try to promote a closer relationship with citizens over shared concerns. The chapter focuses on the efforts of Lambeth Council to become a co-operative council after 2010. It outlines this experiment and then focuses on the way the council has tried to change the relationship between council staff, councillors, community groups and citizens at the neighbourhood scale. It looks at two projects, the first called Community-Based Commissioning and the second called Open Works. It highlights the challenges faced in trying to work in new ways. It exposes the importance of having independent neighbourhood forums in place in order to mediate relationships. It also emphasises the importance of shifting the balance of power between the council and local citizens/community groups.

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Statecraft, Citizenship and Democracy
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Locating localism explores the development of localism as a new mode of statecraft and its implications for the practice of citizenship. Drawing on original research, Jane Wills highlights the importance of having the civic infrastructure and capacity to facilitate the engagement of citizens in local decision making. She looks at the development of community organising, neighbourhood planning and community councils that identify and nurture the energies, talents and creativity of the population to solve their own problems and improve our world.

Combining political theory with attention to political practice, the book takes the long view of this new policy development, positioning it in relation to the political geo-history of the British state. In so doing, it highlights the challenges of the state devolving itself and the importance of citizens having the freedom, incentives and institutions needed to act.

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This chapter introduces the idea of localism. It then locates localism as a new form of statecraft in relation to the recent history of the British state. While localism is about engaging people in local civic life it is also about the central state and the geographical division of political powers across the nation. In its practical application, localism is about rethinking government, encouraging the state to open up to its citizens while also depending upon the ability of local people to respond. It outlines the challenges to be faced in developing this agenda focusing on the limits of depending upon the state and the shifts that would be required in the expectations made of citizens. The chapter looks at the reasons why localism has been supported from both the right and left of the political spectrum. It ends by summarising the main policies developed to support localism since 2010.

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This chapter looks at the way in which the geographical balance of powers has shaped citizenship and expectations of government in England today. It looks at the mixed fortunes of government-led efforts to promote active citizenship. It includes data that explores the extent to which citizens desire and do engage in local activity. In this regard it highlights the legacy of an uneven distribution of civil society organisation and capacity in relation to the development of localist statecraft and citizenship today. It ends by looking at an example of a Neighbourhood Community Budget (NCB) in Poplar between 2011 and 2013. This example highlights the importance of having an independent community-led body that is able to legitimately represent the diversity of the local community and negotiate with state-funded organisations over shared goals. The absence of such a neighbourhood forum stymied the development of the NCB in this case.

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