CRIME AND SOCIAL EXCLUSION
The problem of social exclusion is a central concern within the European Union, it is a key term in the policies of New Labour and, although less frequently used in North America, parallel discourses are present in the major arenas of social policy. It is a term which is flexible and somewhat amorphous in use, yet there are core features which separate it out from previous notions such as poverty or marginalisation. Firstly, it is multi-dimensional: social exclusion can involve economic, political, and spatial exclusion as well as lack of access to specific areas such as information, medical provision, housing, policing, security, etc. These dimensions are seen to interrelate and reinforce each other: overall they involve exclusion in what are seen as the 'normal' areas of participation of full citizenship (Percy-Smith, 2000; Perri 6, 1997). Secondly, that social exclusion is a social not an individual problem. It contrasts with earlier post-war notions which viewed marginality as a problem of isolated dysfunctional individuals. Rather it is a collective phenomenon, hence its association with a posited underclass. Indeed it has more in common with the dangerous classes of Victorian times than the dysfunctional families of the Welfare State of the fifties and sixties. Thirdly, that such exclusion has global roots rather than being a restricted local problem. It is a function of the impact of the rapid changes in the labour market, the decline of manufacturing industries, the rise in a more fragmented service sector, the creation of structural unemployment in particular areas where industry has shut down. It is thus a systemic problem: global in its causes, local in its impact (see Byrne, 1999). Fourthly, the concept of social exclusion carries with it the imperative of inclusion, it is not happy with the excluded being outside of the ranks of citizenship and seeks to generate opportunities, whether by changing the motivation, capacity or available openings for the socially excluded.
This being said there are important differences and political divergent interpretations of social exclusion. These revolve around the issue of 'agency', namely whether social exclusion is seen as self-imposed or socially imposed. John Veit-Wilson (1998) makes the distinction between 'weak' and 'strong' conceptions of social exclusion. The weak version emphasises the individual's self-handicapping characteristics which inhibit their integration into society, the strong version emphasises the role of those doing the excluding (see Byrne, 1999). Let me finesse this further: there would seem to be three basic positions on agency:
In the first instance then there is self-exclusion, in the second the structure unintentionally excludes by leaving behind pockets of incapacitated actors, in the last instance it is the structure which actively excludes. In the first instance agency refuses opportunity, in the second opportunities are few and far between and the agent does not have the capacity to take them up, in the third opportunities are actively blocked. The weak thesis is the realm of the first and the strong of the third, whereas the notion of social isolation involves the arena between them. Let me say at this juncture that although elements of all these elements: motivation, capacity and opportunity, are part of the process of social exclusion - they are after all the fundamental components of the relationship between agency and structure - the weak thesis which puts almost total emphasis on inadequacies of motivation and capacity is palpably ideological in nature. To put it bluntly, it blames social exclusion on the excluded. As Bauman maintains: "In the process of exclusion, the excluded themselves are cast as the principal, perhaps the sole, agency. Being excluded in presented as an outcome of social suicide, not a social execution." (2000, p.25). Thus structure and agency have been reversed and what starts out as problem of society becomes a problem for society (see Colley, and Hodgkinson, 2001). Furthermore, it should be noted that it is the weak thesis which has by far the widest political currency. I want to illustrate this by first describing the use of social exclusion by New Labour, particularly in its relationship to the explanation of crime, and then turn to a wider critique of the concept of social exclusion as a whole - whether based in the weak or the strong thesis. But let us first of all place social exclusion within the changing terrain of late modernity.
From Inclusive to Exclusive Society
The last third of the twentieth century has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the lives of citizens living in advanced industrial societies. The Golden Age of the post-war settlement with high employment, stable family structures, and consensual values underpinned by the safety net of the welfare state has been replaced by a world of structural unemployment, economic precariousness, a systematic cutting of welfare provisions and the growing instability of family life and interpersonal relations. And where there once was a consensus of value, there is now burgeoning pluralism and individualism (see Hobsbawm, 1994). A world of material and ontological security from cradle to grave is replaced by precariousness and uncertainty and where social commentators of the fifties and sixties berated the complacency of a comfortable 'never had it so good' generation, those of today talk of a risk society where social change becomes the central dynamo of existence and where anything might happen. As Anthony Giddens put it: "to live in the world produced by high modernity has the feeling of riding a juggernaut" (1991, p.28; see also Beck, 1992; Berman, 1983).
Such a change has been brought about by market forces which have systematically transformed both the sphere of production and consumption. This shift from Fordism to Post-Fordism involves the unravelling of the world of work where the primary labour market of secure employment and 'safe' careers shrinks, the secondary labour market of short-term contracts, flexibility and insecurity increases as does the growth of an underclass of the structurally unemployed. It results, in Will Hutton's catchphrase, in a "40:30:30 society" (1995) where forty percent of the population are in tenured secure employment, thirty percent in insecure employment, and thirty percent marginalised, idle or working for poverty wages.
Market forces generate a more unequal and less meritocratic society, market values encourage an ethos of every person for themselves, together these create a combination which is severely criminogenic. Such a process is combined with a decline in the forces of informal social control, as communities are disintegrated by social mobility of them and left to decay as capital finds more profitable areas to invest and develop. At the same time, families are stressed and fragmented by the decline in communities systems of support, the reduction of state support and the more diverse pressures of work (see Currie, 1997; Wilson, 1996). Thus, as the pressures which lead to crime increase, the forces which attempt to control it decrease.
Changes in the market place (both in the spheres of production and consumption) give rise to an increase in levels of crime and disorder and, also, a problematisation of order itself. Rules are more readily broken but also more regularly questioned. Civil society becomes more segmented and differentiated: people become more wary and appraising of each other because of ontological insecurity (living in a plural world where individual biographies are less certain) and material insecurity (a world of risk and uncertainty). Exclusion in the market gives rise to exclusions and divisions within civil society which give rise to quantitative and qualitative changes in the exclusion imposed by the State. And, finally, the responses of the state have repercussions in reinforcing and exacerbating the exclusion of civil society and the market place. The strange anthropoemic machine of late modernity generates a resonance of exclusion throughout its structure with the main motor being the rapidly developing pitch of market relations. Such changes are rooted in the market place yet their impact is mediated by how they are experienced by human actors.
Having set the scene let us now examine New Labour policies which explicitly recognise and endeavour to tackle social exclusion.
New Labour: New Inclusionism
At the very heart of the British Labour Party's thinking is the notion of social inclusion. Thus we have a Welfare to Work programme, a New Deal for teenagers, lone parents and communities and a core think tank, The Social Exclusion Unit, established by Peter Mandelson in the summer of 1997 whose task has been to tackle the problems of bringing truants back into school, single mothers to work, reduce the dole queues, rescue the sink estates and rehabilitate teenage mothers (see Mandelson, 1997; Social Exclusion Unit 1999a, 1999b). In the area of crime control the focus on inclusionism is most marked: The Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 crucially views crime and all sorts of sub-criminal disorder (noisy neighbours, vandals, teenagers on the street late at night etc.) as the very antithesis of community and their reduction as a central aspect of the process of inclusion. Curfews are, therefore, to be set by local authorities to control local youth, 'hotspots' of crime are to be identified, focused upon and eliminated, crime audits set up across the country by local authorities and backed by an intricate system of performance indicators (see Hough and Tilley, 1998).
The inclusionary project of New Labour represents a response to the new and difficult social terrain of the late twentieth century. It directly acknowledges the exclusionary problems on the level of the market and community: the rise of structural unemployment, the decay of community, the breakdown of family, the fears of crime and the intrusions of disorder. Yet its attempts to counteract the emergence of an exclusive society are, ironically for a social democratic party committed to modernisation, surprisingly nostalgic. Father (and mother) is at work, the children are at school, the truant officers scour the streets, the teenage curfew begins at dark, the nuclear family is shored up (the positive virtues of marriage are introduced to the national curriculum), the criminal effectively punished and disorderly individuals curbed and neighbourhoods tidied up. Every now and then the images of the old Labour Party, the paternalistic world post-1945 of Herbert Morrison, Clement Attlee and Sir Stafford Cripps seems to peep through the veneer yet the problems are distinctly late modern and the emergence of a politics of nostalgia, or backward looking discourse, at the end of the twentieth century perfectly understandable in terms of the new times that we find ourselves in. A comparison with the neo-liberal responses of the Conservative Administrations which preceded New Labour underscores this for here we have a contrasting response to the same newly emerged problems. For, at risk of exaggeration, if New Labour attempts to roll back the exclusive society, neo-liberalism accedes to or even encourages it. Famous of all the pronouncements - a frisson noir to the ears of all progressive commentators the world over - was Thatcher's "there is no such thing as society only individuals and their families". The atomisation of society into a series of exclusive units was in this axiom elevated to an accurate depiction of reality and, by implication, the inclusive society portrayed as an illusion, an interference in the market relations between free-standing individuals. And the divisions between people are augmented by the divisions between classes. The economic divisions within society were actively widened during the Conservative Administration, partly by tax-benefit policies, so that between 1979 and 1994/5, the poorest 10% had a cult of 8% on real income whereas the top 10% had an increase of 42% (Lister, 1998). Unemployment soared casting whole neighbourhoods into a limbo of poverty and worklessness whilst the recorded crime rate more than doubled between 1979 and 1991. In one year alone, 1991, the increase in recorded crime was one and a quarter times that of all the total rate in 1950. The response to this far from inclusion was, if anything, a defensive exclusion. The central ethos, for example, of the Home Office moved from notions of rehabilitation to that of 'situational crime prevention'. Seeking to understand the causes of crime and the motivation of the offender was deemed a nonsensical task: almost anyone would commit crime if the opportunities arose. What was necessary was to prevent crime, by interposing locks and bolts, physical barriers and closer surveillance to cut down the opportunities for offending (Young, 1994; Clarke, 1980). The Home Office produced booklets on crime prevention strongly reminiscent of the civil defence booklets of two decades earlier: a middle class, detached house where arrows marked possible weaknesses, and points of entry, targets to be hardened, doors and windows to be made safe: the enemy was without and the family home a place of safety and tranquillity (see Radford and Stanko, 1991).
Thatcher's neo-liberalism, then, involved a deregulation of industry, a further commodification of labour, the advocacy of self-sufficiency and individualism, the emergence of structural unemployment, the notion of defence against crime rather than the rehabilitation of the offender. All in all, a programme which went with the tide of exclusion and actually egged it on. But New Labour has reacted, on one level, in the opposite direction. It is intent on reversing the trend, of achieving an inclusive society, it engages in an almost postmodern bricollaging of the past in order to depict its ideal, yet the past is somehow just around the corner and the means to get there a mere change of management or effort of will.
Yet the move from neo-liberalism to New Labour is not as revolutionary as might seem, for paradoxically the core mechanism which is identified as creating the problem was shared by both neo-liberals and New Labour: that is the notion of an underclass, a dependency culture generated by an over generous Welfare State.
The Welfare State: Not the Solution but the Problem
In the inclusive society of the post-war period, the Welfare State, particularly in Europe, was seen as the main instrument of the state to include citizens. It reached out to those who were marginal and ensured that they had the minimal benefits of economic citizenship. In the eighties and early nineties a critique of this position occurred from libertarians and neo-liberals of the right. They completely reversed the social democratic nostrum. For they argued that the Welfare State generated a dependency culture which far from ensuring the integration of the marginal into society was the prime force in creating an underclass who excluded themselves from society (see for example Murray, 1984).
In their analysis the benefits system was a disincentive to entering the world of work and normal economic behaviour, furthermore, the dependency culture created a situation where those permanently on benefits were not only unwilling but eventually unable to meet the disciplines and punctualities necessary to function in the workaday world. By the nineties the administrations of Clinton and of Blair took on board much of this thinking. In particular, the change in direction of New Labour was most astonishing because, instead of returning to some new Fabianism bent on seeking out the poor and bestowing upon them welfare rights, benefits and empowerment, they began to argue that the Welfare State "as we know it" did not correspond to present day realities, and compounded the problems of the poor whilst the poor themselves because of welfare dependency lost their sense of responsibility as citizens.
The Labour Party and Crime
In 1993 in an article in The New Statesman entitled 'Why Crime is a Socialist Issue', Tony Blair first presented his famous couplet 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime' which suggested two things: first of all a criminal justice police which was tough on offenders in opposition to what was seen as the previously 'soft', 'liberal' policies of rehabilitation prison reductionism and thus had an exclusionary rather than an inclusionary aspect. 'Tough' policies particularly with respect to the more widespread use of imprisonment were enacted. Secondly, that Labour tackling the causes of crime coupled with the heading 'Crime as a Socialist Issue' would suggest that an attempt to tackle the deep structural causes of crime (the 'strong thesis' of social exclusion) would be implemented. The word 'socialism' soon, of course, disappeared from Blair's vocabulary, and structural causes became transmuted, as Jayne Mooney (2002) has shown, to the family and then the family sited within the underclass. Poverty did not lead to crime as Jack Straw pointed out at a conference on social exclusion and the Third Way (1998). Poor families with good parenting led to law abiding behaviour, it was inadequate families which gave rise to crime.
The three theoretical influences constituting the ‘big idea’ for New Labour all came from the United States: Charles Murray, the maverick anti-State libertarian, John DiIulio (1995), the right wing advocate of the US prison expansion, and James Q Wilson, an advisor to Nixon, Reagan and Bush I. Thus the vocabulary of underclass and social exclusion came to dominate New Labour discourse. Crime was the provenance of a small minority of excluded; the realm of dependency: single mothers, teenage pregnancy, dysfunctional families, the work shy and the substance abuser. The solution was to drum them into work, regiment benefits etc. From Charles Murray they took the view of the underclass as those unwilling to work rather than the social democratic version of William Julius Wilson, those cut off from work. From DiIulio they absorbed the notion that a small number of young people – sited in the underclass – committed a large proportion of street crime and the task of government was to target them. So it was claimed that 6% of young males committed 50% of all delinquencies
John Birt, the ex-governor of the BBC – bizarrely drafted into the Home Office in 1998 as a ‘crime czar’, focused his attention on these ‘super-predators’ as a technical fix to the delinquency problem. Such claims have become a key part of New Labour's policy. Thus Tony Blair in a speech delivered on 30th May 2001 set out the Government's crime reduction plans in the second term:
"We will take further action to focus on the 100,000 most persistent offenders. They are responsible for half of all crime. They are the core of the crime problem in this country. Half are under 21, nearly two-thirds are hard drug users, three quarters are out of work and more than a third were in care as children. Half have no qualifications at all and 45% are excluded from school … Spending on the police will be an extra £1.6 billion per year by 2003-2004. And we are pledged to recruit another 6,000 police officers …"
Let us note that these figures are as hypothetical as they are politically convenient. They ignore the fact that a large proportion of young people commit crime, and that only a few are caught and that generalisation about their background from these few is grossly unreliable. Further, that the number of crimes committed are based on police interviews with apprehended young offenders who are encouraged to exaggerate in according to boost the clear up figures and that even given this only quarter of offences are cleared up so that for four million offences which are uncleared we haven't the faintest idea of the identity of the offenders. Furthermore, that for youthful offences such as burglary and robbery the clear up rate is even lower, 18 and 13% respectively, and the culprits even more unknown and indescribable (Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1999). Lastly that even in those instances where a small number of youth are involved in crime, it is not the same youths every time. Four muggers may commit most of the street robberies in a locality in a month but with such an amateurish crime, it is different people from one month to the next.
Via DiIulio and James Q Wilson they adopted the metaphor of the war against crime and against drugs and incarceration as the key weapon in this war. From Wilson they took the concept of zero-tolerance, the idea that we best tackle crime through dealing with incivilities. Indeed at times Blair’s recent pronouncements on crime look like literal transcriptions from J Q Wilson’s Thinking About Crime. Thus, on December 5th 2000, Blair suggested curfews and a zero-tolerance campaign to stamp down hard on petty criminals, drunken yobs, and juvenile delinquents. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Express, the Prime Minister said:
"If you are tolerant of small crimes, and I mean vandalism and the graffiti at the end of the street, you create an environment in which pretty soon the drug dealers move in, and then after that the violent people with their knives and their guns and all the rest of it, and the community is wrecked."
I am not suggesting, of course, that Tony Blair or Jack Straw have any direct acquaintance with these commentators. Merely that it is their ideas filtered through the lens of policy advisers and speech writers which greatly influenced New Labour’s policy on law and order. What is important to note, here, is that the ideas imported from the U.S. were not those of liberal criminology, they were not the ideas of Elliott Currie, William Julius Wilson, or Frank Cullen, but of the highly contested American right.
New Labour, Social Exclusion and Crime
Numerous authors (eg Giddens, 2001, p.323; Byrne, 1999) suggest that the idea of social exclusion has superseded that of the underclass. Far from it; although the phrase might suggest otherwise, in particular its 'weak' and politically dominant version is wedded to the notion of underclass. It is clear from the above that New Labour adopted a 'weak thesis' version of social exclusion with the emphasis for the problem placed upon the excluded themselves. It is obvious also that the Government has adopted both intensive inclusionary and exclusionary strategies towards crime. Let us summarise at this point the posited relationship between social exclusion and crime.
Having outlined the particular approach to social exclusion taken by New Labour I wish to move on to a more general critique of the concept, as it is presently used, both in its 'weak' and 'strong' thesis.
In The Exclusive Society (1999) I contrasted the inclusive world of the post-war period of the 1950's and 1960's with the more exclusionary social order of late modernity in the last third of the twentieth century and beyond. For whereas the Golden Age granted social embeddedness, strong certainty of personal and social narrative, and a desire to assimilate the deviant, the immigrant, the stranger, late modernity generated both economic and ontological insecurity, a discontinuity of personal and social narrative and an exclusionary tendency towards the deviant.
In my research I started from the most immediate and apparent manifestations of social exclusion in late modern societies. I sub-divided these exclusions into three layers: the labour market, civil society and the State. Corresponding to this exclusion from the labour market was the exclusion from civil society: an underclass left stranded by the needs of capital on housing estates either in the inner city or on its periphery. Those who because of illiteracy, family pathology or general disorganisation were excluded from citizenship, whose spatial vistas were those of constant disorder and threat and who were the recipients of stigma from the wider world of respectable citizens. The welfare 'scroungers', the immigrants, the junkies and crack heads: the demons of modern society. And lastly, such a second class citizenship was demonstrated and exacerbated by the focus of the criminal justice system, by their existence in J.A. Lee's (1981) graphic phrase as "police property" and by the extraordinarily disproportionate presence of the immigrant and the poor within the penal system (see Mooney and Young, 2000).
Such a dualism is captured by John Galbraith's (1992) contrast between the "contented majority" and an underclass of despair, with respectability on the one hand and stigma on the other, a world of civility and tranquillity over against that of crime and mayhem. It underscores much of the contemporary usage of the phrase 'social exclusion'. But it soon became clear to me that such a dualism was fundamentally misconceived. It echoed the conventional wisdoms of the subject, to be sure, but it did not adequately grasp the social and spatial terrain of the late modern city nor the dynamics of the actors who traverse it. It rightly suggests barriers and divisions but wrongly exaggerates their efficacy and solidity: it mistakes rhetoric for reality, it attempts to impose hard lines on a late modern city of blurred demarcation and crossovers. Furthermore, it neither captures the intensity of the exclusion - the vindictiveness -nor the passionate resentment of the excluded whilst painting a far too calm picture of the fortunate citizens - the included.
Let us first examine the components of the social exclusion thesis:
This thesis is held by writers of various theoretical and political dispositions: whether it is the "social isolation" of William Julius Wilson (1987), the "hyperghettoization" of Lois Wacquant (2001), the warnings of "Indian style reservations" by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray (1994), "the New Bantustans" of Mike Davis (1990), the language and rhetoric of New Labour's Social Exclusion Unit (1999a), "the dual city" of Manuel Castells (1994), "the geographies of exclusion" of David Sibley (1995) or the New York of nightmares and dreams portrayed in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities (1988). And parallel to the segregation of the poor is the self-imposed isolation of the middle classes whether it is in "the gated communities" of Los Angeles, so well publicised by Mike Davis (1990), or "the fortress city" of Susan Christopherson (1994), or "the hyper-anaesthetized play zones" which are the "flip side narrative of the ‘jobless ghetto’" (2000, p.91) of Christian Parenti.
I wish to contest this thesis not from a perspective that there are no widescale disparities in late modern society nor that areas of the city are not particularly blighted by crime and that their inhabitants experience social exclusion and stigmatisation. Surely all of this is true and should be a target and priority of any progressive policy. But the construction of the problem in a binary mode obfuscates the issue, whilst the notion of social exclusion ironically exaggerates the degree of exclusion whilst underestimating the gravity of the problem.
1. BLURRING THE BINARY VISION
The Binaries of Social Exclusion
Society at Large The Underclass
The Unproblematic The Problem
Employment The Workless
Independence Welfare Dependency
Stable Family Single Mothers
The Natives The Immigrants
Drug Free Illicit Drug Use
The danger of the concept of social exclusion is that it carries with it a series of false binaries: it ignores the fact that problems occur on both sides of the line, however much one has clusters in one area rather than another and, more subtly, it conceals the fact that the 'normality' of the majority is itself deeply problematic.
Thus in the first respect unemployment, poverty, economic insecurity is scarcely unknown outside the designated areas - indeed quantitatively they are overall more prevalent in the supposedly secure majoritarian heartlands of society than they are in the selected minority of 'excluded' areas. And the same, of course, is true of illicit drug use, community disorganisation, unstable family structures etc. In the case of the notion of 'the normal majority' it assumes that, in this world, class differentials are somehow insignificant, that paid work is an unambiguous benefit, that 'stable' family life is unproblematic, licit psychoactive drug use is less a problem than illegal drug 'abuse' etc. Furthermore, it assumes that the transition from the social excluded to the majority via the vehicle of work will miraculously solve all these problems.
But we can go further than this for there is widespread evidence that the culture of contentment - which John Galbraith (1992) talks of: a 'contented majority' who are all right thank you, doing fine and sharing little in common or concern for the excluded minority, are a myth. Note, first of all, Will Hutton's figures, 40:30:30, where the secure primary labour market is reduced itself to a minority, but it would be foolish to suggest that even this island of seeming certainty was secure, serene or self-satisfied. The demands for a more and more flexible labour force coupled with the leap forwards in automation and the sophistications of computer software caused great reverberations of insecurity throughout the employment structure. Redundancy, short-term contracts, multiple career structures have become the order of the day. Furthermore, as the recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation Report, Job Insecurity and Work Intensification (B Burchell, 1999), discovered, redundancy not only causes chronic job insecurity but the workers who remain have to work longer hours and expand their skills to cover the areas of those dismissed (op cit, p.60). For those in work the length of the working day increases: it is, of course, easier for the employer to ask more and more time when security of employment is uncertain. The market does not compete in hard places, it goes for the soft tissue of time and vulnerability. Moreover, whilst in the past the income of one wage earner was sufficient to maintain a family, the dual career family has now become a commonplace where both partners are immersed in the labour market. And if in the economic sphere precariousness and uncertainty are widespread so too in the domestic sphere: divorce, separation, single parenthood are endemic, with the pressures of work merely adding to the instability of the late modern family.
2. BULIMIA: NOT EXCLUSION BUT INCLUSION/EXCLUSION:
There is a strange consensus in recent writings about the underclass. Both writers of the right and the left concur that what one has is not a separate culture of poverty as earlier conservative and radical writers presumed (eg Edward Banfield, 1968 on the right, or Michael Harrington, 1963, on the left), but rather that what has occurred is a breakdown of culture. Thus William Julius Wilson (1987) in his influential ‘social isolation’ thesis points to the way in which whole areas of the inner city, having been formed around the previous needs of manufacturing industry, are left stranded as capital wings its way to find more profitable dividends elsewhere in the country or abroad. Whilst the middle and respectable working classes escape to the suburbs, the less skilled remain behind bereft of work and, indeed, role models which display work discipline and the values of punctuality and reliability. The loss of work, in turn, leads to a lack of ‘marriageable men’ who can earn a family wage and engenders the rise of single mothers in the ghetto – and the role model of the family, parallel to that of work, is likewise diminished.
Charles Murray (1984), writing from the opposite political perspective, comes to surprisingly similar conclusions. His causal sequences are, of course, very different: it is not lack of work that causes the problem but lack of willingness to work, engendered by an "over generous" Welfare State which creates ‘dependency’ amongst the poor. Such a dependency manifests itself in a lack of motivation to work and single mothers. Thus the effects on attitudes to work and the family are similar and the perceived consequences, a high rate of crime and incivilities, identical.
All of these assessments of the morals of the poor are those of deficit: in the recent writers they lack our values, in the earlier writers they have different values which are seen as deficient. And, as it is, all of them describe a fairly similar value system or lack of it, namely short term hedonistic, lacking in restraint, unwillingness to forgo present pleasures, aggressiveness and willingness to use violence to achieve desired goals. In short, a spoilt, petulant, immature culture at the bottom of the social structure.
In The Exclusive Society I set out to examine this picture of mores at the bottom of the social structure. I decided to look at the American black underclass as a test case for surely, if this thesis were true, it would be amongst these supposed outcasts of the American Dream that this distinct, localised and anomic deficit culture would be found. In particular I looked at Carl Nightingale’s (1993) brilliant ethnography of the black ghetto of Philadelphia, On the Edge. What Nightingale discovered confounded such an image. For instead the ghetto was the apotheosis of America. Here is full immersion in the American Dream: a culture hooked on Gucci, BMW, Nike's, watching television eleven hours per day, sharing the mainstream culture's obsession with violence, backing, at the time of the study, Bush's involvement in the Gulf War, lining up outside the cinemas, worshipping success, money, wealth and status - even sharing in a perverse way the racism of the wider society. The problem of the ghetto was not so much the process of it being simply excluded but rather one which was all too strongly included in the culture but, then, systematically excluded from its realisation. All of this reminiscent of Merton - but where, in a late modern context, the implosion of the wider culture on the local is dramatically increased. We have a process which I likened to bulimia of the social system: a society which choruses the liberal mantra of liberty, equality and fraternity yet systematically in the job market, on the streets, in the day to day contacts with the outside world, practices exclusion. It brands as 'losers' those who had learnt to believe that the world consisted of 'winners' and 'losers'.
3. CROSSING THE BORDERLINE: The Dual City Thesis
Thus the underclass is constructed as an Other, as a group with defective norms who contrast with the normal majority. And here in this region lies all sorts of crime and incivilities. From this perspective of essentialising the other, the demand is to locate the problem areas: where exactly are the demons, so to speak? The powerful seek, in Tod Gitlin's poignant phrase, "to purge impurities, to wall off the stranger" (1995, p.233). Thus the underclass is said to be located within the clear cut ghettos of the inner city sink estates or the long lost satellite slums at the cities' edge (see Byrne, 1999). But, in fact, there is no such precision here: the poor are not as firmly corralled as some might make out. Thus, as Gerry Mooney and Mike Danson write, in their critique of the "dual city" concept, based on their research in Glasgow - a city, some would say, of extreme cultural and economic contrasts:
"The conclusion which is drawn from the analysis of poverty and deprivation in contemporary Glasgow presented here is not one which lends support to the dual city model. … This is not to deny however, that there is an uneven distribution of poverty in the city or that poverty is concentrated in certain areas. What is being contested is the usefulness of the dual city argument for our understanding of such distributions and the processes which contribute to it. …
The language of the two city/dual city argument is one which is seriously flawed by definitional and conceptual difficulties. Despite the continuing use of concepts such as polarisation, underclass,, exclusion and marginalisation, we are little clearer about the underlying factors which are viewed as contributing to such processes. In this respect the dual city perspective and its implicit arguments about growing socio-spatial polarisation are plagued by ambiguity and vagueness.
In discussions of the emerging 'tale of two cities' in Glasgow, the attention which the peripheral estates received does not relate directly to the levels and proportions of poverty to be found there. In part this is a consequence of reluctance to define adequately the areas or social groups concerned. Further within peripheral estates there is a marked differentiation between the various component parts in terms of unemployment, poverty and deprivation. This is almost completely neglected in the dominant picture of these estates which has emerged in recent years which stereotypes the estates as homogeneous enclaves of 'despair' or 'hopelessness'." (1997, pp.84-5)
Maybe urban geographers of all political persuasions would like more of a clear cut cartography than is healthy but, in reality, the contours of late modernity always blur, fudge and cross over.
Manuel Castells (1994) advocates the concept of dual city as the fundamental urban dualism of our time creating a division between the information-rich keyed into global networks and the information poor. In this conception the rich live in late modernity whereas the poor are trapped in locality, tribalism and the past. Such a notion tied to that of a class divide based on information fails to grasp the cultural penetration of globalisation. For, as John Tomlinson points out:
"those marginalized groups for whom 'locality is destiny' experience a transformed locality into which the wider world intrudes more and more. They may in all sorts of ways be the 'losers' in globalisation, but this does not mean that they are excluded from its effects, that they are consigned to cultural backwaters out of the mainstream of global modernity. Quite to the contrary, it seems to me that the poor and marginalized - for example those living in inner-city areas - often find themselves daily closest to some of most turbulent transformations, while it is the affluent who can afford to retire to the rural backwaters which have at least the appearance of a preserved and stable 'locality'." (1999, pp.133-4)
Thus in terms of mass communication they are exposed to messages and commodities from all over the world, whilst the inner city area in which they live becomes multi-ethnic and diverse due to labour immigration. They are exposed to what Dick Hebdidge (1990) calls a 'mundane cosmopolitanism' just as real or perhaps more significant than the rich tourist who travels the world in a fairly sanitised fashion from chain hotel to chain hotel, from airport lounge to airport lounge. And cultures of distant places either through the media or on the streets become incorporated in the local cultures particularly of the youth (see Young, 2001, Back, 1996).
4. THE FUNCTIONAL UNDERCLASS
"What is not accepted, and indeed is little mentioned, is that the underclass is integrally a part of the larger economic process and, more importantly, that it serves the living standard and the comfort of the more favored community … The economically fortunate, not excluding those who speak with greatest regret of the existence of this class, are heavily dependent on its presence.
"The underclass is deeply functional; all industrial countries have one in greater or lesser measure and in one form or another. As some of its members escape from deprivation and its associated compulsions, a resupply becomes essential. But on few matters, it must be added, is even the most sophisticated economic and social comment more reticent. The picture of an economic and political system in which social exclusion, however unforgiving, is somehow a remediable affliction is all but required. Here, in a compelling fashion, the social convenience of the contented replaces the clearly visible reality." (John Galbraith, 1992, pp.31-2).
In contrast to Galbraith, it is common to portray the underclass as not wanted, as a social residuum. They are the people who were left behind in the urban hinterlands as capital winged its way to places where labour was cheaper, they are those whose labour is no longer required and who, furthermore, are 'flawed consumers' as Zygmunt Bauman (1998b) would have it, whose income is insufficient to render them of any interest to those selling the glittering commodities of late modern society. They are the casualties of globalisation and the new technology: they are the useless class, a segment of society which has become detached and irrelevant. As Ralf Dahrendorf put it: "They are, if the cruelty of the statement is pardonable, not needed. The rest of us could and would quite like to live without them." (1985, p.20). They are not simply of little use because their presence has dysfunctions for the rest of society: they have no uses but great costs. These dysfunctions take two forms. Firstly, the underclass is a source of crime and incivilities, it is viewed as a dangerous class; secondly, the residuum are costly, an ever-increasing burden on the hard pressed taxpayer. Such a notion of dysfunction reinforces the dual city thesis: they are simply not part of the same social system. Thus Zygmunt Bauman writes of Washington D.C.:
"One difference between those 'high up' and those 'low down' is that the first may leave the second behind - but not vice versa. Contemporary cities are sites of an 'apartheid a’rebours': those who can afford it, abandon the filth and squalor of the regions that those who cannot afford the move are stuck to. In Washington D.C. … there is an invisible border stretching along 16th Street in the west and the Potomac river in the north-west, which those left behind are wise never to cross. Most of the adolescents left behind the invisible yet all-too-tangible border never saw downtown Washington with all its splendours, ostentatious elegance and refined pleasures. In their life, that downtown does not exist. There is no talking over the border. The life experiences are so sharply different that it is not clear what the residents of the two sides could talk to each other about were they to meet and stop to converse. As Ludwig Wittgenstein remarked, 'If lions could talk, we would not understand them'." (1998a, p.86).
This eloquent expression of the dual city thesis is wrong, not in its sense of division, but in its sense of borders. For the borders are regularly crossed and the language spoken on each side is remarkably similar. The most obvious flaw in the argument is that of gender: maids, nurses, clerical staff move across into work everyday. Women, as William Julius Wilson argues in When Work Disappears, are more acceptable to the world outside of the ghetto than their male counterparts. It is after all "home boys" who stay at home. But bellhops, taxi drivers, doormen, maintenance men regularly ply their way across the invisible borders of Washington D.C. It is not, therefore, just through television that the sense of relative deprivation of the poor is heightened, it is in the direct and often intimate knowledge of the lives of the affluent.
David Rieff in Los Angeles: Capital of the Third World (1993) writes of the close physical proximity of the professionals and the underclass in Los Angeles, their interdependence yet the chasm that separates their lives. Frank Webster captures this well when he comments:
"Illustrations of this are easy to find. On the one hand, maids are an essential element of the professionals' lifestyles, to cook, to clean, to look after children, to prepare for the dinner parties held in the gaps found in the frenetic work schedules of those deep into careers in law, corporate affairs, trading and brokerage. The maids, generally Hispanics, ride the infamously inadequate public transit buses to points in the city where their employers may pick them up in their cars to bring them home to clean up breakfast and take the children off to school. On the other hand, visitors are often struck by how verdant are the gardens of those living in the select areas of LA. Often they make the assumption that 'anything grows here in this wonderful sunshine'. But they are wrong: Los Angeles is a desert and gardens need most intensive care to bloom. They get it from an army of mainly Chicano labourers which arrives on the back of trucks very early in the mornings to weed, water and hoe - for a few dollars in wages, cash in hand.
In spite of this dependence, which obviously involves a good deal of personal interaction, the lives of the two groups are very far apart. Of course this is largely because they occupy markedly different territories, with members of the poor venturing out only to service the affluent on their terms as waiters, valets, shop assistants and the like the underclass also inhabit areas which the well-to-do have no reason (or desire) to visit." (1995, pp.205-6).
The dual city where the poor are morally segregated from the majority and are held physically apart by barriers is a myth. The borderlines are regularly crossed, the underclass exists on both sides anyway, but those who are clustered in the poorer parts of town regularly work across the tracks to keep the well off families functioning. The work poor keep the work rich going: indeed, it is only the availability of such cheap ‘help’ that enables the dual career families to continue. The situation of the dual income family and their need for support is well documented in Nicky Gregson and Michelle Lowe's Servicing the Middle Class (1994). The class relations of this emergent form was well summarised by the Hunts when they wrote:
"Hired help on a single family basis involves a category of workers that must be paid out of the take home earnings of the nuclear unit. Consequently, the dual-career family is premised upon the increased use of a class of workers locked into a standard of living considerably lower than their employers … it would provide the 'liberation' of one class of women by the continued subjugation of another." (Hunt and Hunt, 1977, p.413)
Neither are the poor excluded morally, they are far from socially isolated, the virtues of work and the stable nuclear family are daily presented to them. For not only do they actually directly physically experience it in their roles of nannies, kitchen help, as waiters in restaurants and cleaners and bell boys in hotels – they receive from the mass media a daily ration of these virtues, indeed one that is in excess of that consumed by those who work in the primary labour market.
5. REDEMPTION THROUGH LABOUR
"Work is central to the Government's attack on social exclusion. Work is the only route to sustained financial independence. But it is also much more. Work is not just about earning a living. It is a way of life … Work helps to fulfil our aspirations - it is the key to independence, self-respect and opportunities for advancement ... Work brings a sense of order that is missing from the lives of many unemployed young men. ... [The socially excluded] and their families are trapped in dependency. They inhabit a parallel world where: income is derived from benefits, not work; where school is an option not a key to opportunity; and where the dominant influence on young people is the culture of the street, not the values that bind families and communities together. There are some estates in my constituency where: the common currency is the giro; where the black economy involves much more than moonlighting - it involves the twilight world of drugs; and where relentless anti-social behaviour grinds people down …" (A speech by Harriet Harman, then Minister for Social Security, at the opening of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, 1997)
"The worker … feels only outside of work, and during work he is outside himself. He is at home when he is not working and when he is working he is not at home. His work, therefore, is not voluntary, but coerced forced labour. It is not the satisfaction of a need but only a means to satisfy other needs. Its alien character is obvious from the fact that as soon as no physical or other pressure exists, labour is avoided like the plague. … Finally the external nature of work for the worker appears in the fact that it is not his own but another person's, that in work he does not belong to himself but to some one else … It is the loss of his own self."
Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts,
1844 [1967, p.292]
To suggest that any work is better than no work and that work has this essential redeeming quality is bizarre in the extreme. Work, as John K. Galbraith so wryly commented in The Culture of Contentment, is largely repetitive and demeaning, the use of "work" by the "contented classes" to describe their highly paid, creative and self-fulfilling activities in the same breath as the low paid, oppressive chores of the working poor is a fraud of the first order. And to add to this the notion of the majority of work as an act of redemption, a liberation of the self and a role model to one's children, as our New Labour politicians and their Democratic cousins would maintain, is to add insult to injury.
Even for the working majority, the main virtues of work are the coffee break, the wage packet and the weekend. In fact the inherently boring and tedious nature of work seems to many people to be precisely the reason that one is paid to do it. It is what you definitely would not do if you were not being paid. Yet providing the hours are not too long and the wages high enough, a deal of some sort is being made based much more on the perceived obdurate, difficult and unchanging nature of reality rather than any ideas of redemption. There is always the teenagers' Saturday night, the forty-somethings' house and car, the 'real' world of home, kids and television. But such a realpolitik of desire is far from redemption. The confusion arises of course, as Galbraith points out, that for the contented classes work is indeed precisely that: it is
"enjoyable, socially reputable and economically rewarding. Those who spend pleasant, well compensated days say with emphasis that they are 'hard at work', thereby suppressing the notion that they are a favored class. They are, of course, allured to say that they enjoy their work, but it is presumed that such enjoyment is shared by any good worker. In a brief moment of truth, we speak, when sentencing criminals, of years at 'hard labor'. Otherwise we place a common gloss over what is agreeable and what, to a greater or lesser extent, is endured or suffered." (1992, p.33).
The élite workers of stage, screen and song, the sportsmen and women and the sizeable segment of the contented middle classes for whom the day is never long enough - for all of these, their identity is based upon work. Take work away from them and they flounder hopelessly: their ontology is work. But if one part of society defines work as what they are: the other very definitely defines it as what they are not.
Below the contented top of society, the broad mass of people who are, if anxious about job security, reconciled to the wage deal. But below that for the working poor the deal breaks down, the equivalence of selling time and buying leisure is frayed and insubstantial. To take family life as an example: the politicians' rhetoric about work sustaining the family and providing role models for the children is hollow if not downright cruel. For, in fact, the type of work available to many of the poor leaves little time for stable family relationships either to partners or to children, and has wide repercussions for community instability. As Elliott Currie puts it "less often discussed [than lack of work] but not less important, is the effect of overwork in poorly-paid jobs on the capacity of parents to provide a nurturing and competent environment for childrearing and on the capacity of communities for self-regulation and the maintenance of networks of mutual support and care." (1997, p.155).
To force people to work long and anti-social hours undermines the very 'basic' morality of family and community which the politicians of all persuasions are constantly harping on about. The way in which, for example, single mothers are forced into work at rates which scarcely makes affordable the childcare which long hours at work necessitates, suggests ideology at work rather than any genuine care for people. The single mother looking after her children is dependent, the same mother paid to look after your children is by some miracle independent and resourceful. The true motive, the reduction of the tax burden of the well-off, is as Galbraith suggests, thinly concealed by the rhetoric. Furthermore, the notion that such work provides role models for the children of the neighbourhood is implausible: much more likely is that they make crime and the illicit markets of drug dealing all the more attractive. If there are indeed "seductions of crime", as Jack Katz (1988) suggests, then these seductions are all the more sweet given the misery of the alternatives.
Including the Excluded
What I am suggesting is that both the unemployed and the working poor - what one might call the overemployed - experience exclusion from social citizenship. The first because they are denied basic economic substratum concomitant with the widespread expectations of what citizenship implies, the second because they experience the nature of their work, the hours worked and the remuneration, as unfair, as being outside of the norms of the wage deal - a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. They are, of course, part of the labour market but they are not full citizens. The dragooning, therefore, of people from one category of exclusion to another ("getting the people to work", as The Social Exclusion Unit (1999a) put it with its cheerless double entendre) is experienced all too frequently not as inclusion but as exclusion, not as the 'free' sale of labour, but as straightforward coercion. The "New Deal", therefore, is not the solution it is the problem, it is not inclusion it is palpable exclusion, the solution to the New Deal is engaging in the hidden economy, drug dealing, becoming a single mother: the solution is what the aptly named Social Exclusion Unit sets out as the problem (see Willis, 2000, pp.89-91).
Boundaries of Bulimia
Physical, social and moral boundaries are constantly crossed in late modernity. As we have seen, they are transgressed because of individual movement, social mobility, the coincidence of values and problems both sides of any line and the tremendous incursion of the mass media which presents citywide and indeed global images to all and sundry whilst creating virtual communities and common identities across considerable barriers of space. Boundaries are crossed, boundaries shift, boundaries blur and are transfixed.
The socially excluded do not, therefore, exist in some ‘elsewhere’ cut off spatially, socially and morally from the wider society. To suggest this is not to say that physical barriers do not occur. Traffic is often scheduled so as to cut off parts of town, transport systems leave whole tracts of the city dislocated from the rest, and gated communities occur both in the fortunate and unfortunate parts of the city. It is not to deny that a characteristic of late modern society is the setting up of barriers, of exclusion. Nor is it to suggest that cultural divisions are set up with society propelled by misconception and prejudice. Indeed the discourse about social exclusion with its binary structure is itself part of such an attempt to construct moral barriers and distinctions. Rather, it is to say that such physical parameters are exaggerated, that the virtual communities set up by the mass media easily transcend physical demarcations, and that values are shared to a much greater extent than social isolation theorists would suggest. Of course subcultural variations exist within society but that’s what it is, subcultural: a variation in accentuation of core values rather than a deficit or difference in value.
The binary language of social exclusion fundamentally misunderstands the nature of late modernity. Here is a world where borders blur, where cultures cross over, hybridise and merge, where cultural globalisation breaks down, where virtual communities lose their strict moorings to space and locality. The late modern city is one of blurred boundaries, it was the Fordist city of modernity which had a segregated structure, a division of labour of specialised areas, a Chicago of concentric rings. Now the lines blur: gentrification occurs in the inner city – deviance occurs in the suburbs. It is a world of globalisation not separation, of blurring not strict lines of demarcation, it is culturally a world of hybrids not of pedigrees, of minor not major differences – the very decline in the physical community and rise of its virtual counterpart means that it is impossible for an underclass to exist separately.
Once again none of this is to suggest that considerable forces of exclusion do not occur but the process is not that of a society of simple exclusion which I originally posited. Rather it is one where both inclusion and exclusion occur concurrently – a bulimic society where massive cultural inclusion is accompanied by systematic structural exclusion. It is a society which has both strong centrifugal and centripetal currents: it absorbs and it rejects. Let us note first of all the array of institutions which impact the process of inclusion: the mass media, mass education, the consumer market, the labour market, the welfare state, the political system, the criminal justice system. Each of these carries with it a notion of universal values, of democratic notions of equality and reward and treatment according to circumstance and merit. Each of them has expanded throughout the century and has been accompanied by a steady rise in the notion of citizenship encompassing greater and greater parts of the population in terms of age, class, gender and race. And within the period of late modernity the mass media, mass education and the consumer and labour markets have, in particular, increased exponentially. Each of these institutions is not only a strong advocate of inclusive citizenship, it is also paradoxically the site of exclusion. The consumer markets propagate a citizenship of joyful consumption yet the ability to spend (and sometimes even to enter) within the mall is severely limited, the labour market incorporates more and more of the population (the entry of women into paid work being the prime example) yet, as André Gorz (1999) has so astutely stressed, precisely at the time when work is seen as a prime virtue of citizenship, well paid, secure and meaningful work is restricted to a tiny minority. The criminal justice system is on paper a paragon of equal rights. The British Police and Criminal Evidence Act, for example, governs amongst other things the powers of stop and search. It is a veritable cameo of neo-classicist notions of equality of citizens in the face of the law and the need for ‘democratic’ suspicion, yet on the streets, in practice, policing is indisputably biased in terms of race and class (see Mooney and Young, 2000). Politics is an hourly interjection of radio and television, the mass media speak on our part for "the common good", and "the average" man and woman – they even parade and interview Joe public with regularity yet the vast majority of people feel manifestly excluded from political decision-making. Indeed even the tiny minority of active party members often feel impotent and uninfluential. Mass education is the major transmission belt of meritocratic ideas, it is the nursing ground of equal opportunity yet, as subcultural theorists from Albert Cohen to Paul Willis have pointed out, its structures serve to reproduce class divisions, and to exacerbate resentment. Lastly the mass media has a pivotal role. It has grown immensely and occupies a considerable part of waking life, in 1999, for example, the average person in England and Wales watched 26 hours of television, listened to 19 hours of radio every week, and read, on top of that, mass circulation newspapers and magazines. That is 40% of one's waking life is spent on watching TV or listening to the radio, rising to 60% of your free time if you are lucky enough to be in work. The lower down the class structure – the more socially excluded if you want – the citizen, the more mass media is consumed. Thus, paradoxically, cultural inclusion is the inverse of structural inclusion. The media carry strong notions of the universal citizen and they, of course, depict the other institutions: the world of consumption, work, education, politics and criminal justice. Yet despite this overall commitment to social order the very stuff of news is the opposite: disorder, breakdown, mayhem, injustice (see Young, 1981). To take the criminal justice system as an example: crime and police stories are a staple of both factual and fictional mass media and the miscarriage of justice is a major theme. From the murder of Stephen Lawrence to the Cincinnati riots, from the Guildford Four to Rodney Hill, police prejudice, corruption and incompetence is paraded daily. The mass media is a spectacular noticeboard of exclusion – it has all the characteristics of a bulimic narrative: it stresses order, justice and inclusion (the backcloth of the news) yet it highlights disorder, injustice and exclusion (the foreground). The contrast between a bulimic society and an exclusive society can be seen if one compares Western liberal democracies (and perhaps the new South Africa) with an explicitly exclusive society, the South Africa of Hendrik Verwoerd and P W Botha. Here one had explicit spatial and social exclusion, a multi-culturalist apartheid based on racist distinctions, a controlled mass media which refused (on the whole) to report police brutality and which extolled divisions. It was both exclusivist culturally and exclusivist structurally (see Dixon, 2001).
The phenomenon of cultural globalisation fundamentally ratchets up this process of bulimia. Television drama, news, advertisement, contains not only plot, story and product but a background of expectancies and assumptions. First world culture permeates the globe and carries with it notions of equality, meritocratic values, civil liberties – it proselytises not only expectancies of standard of living but notions of freedom and citizenship.
I want to suggest that it is the bulimic nature of late modern societies which helps to explain the nature and tenor of the discontent at the bottom of the social structure. It is rooted quite simply in the contradiction between ideas which legitimate the system and the reality of the structure which constitutes it. But the tensions between ideals and reality exist only because of the general and manifest awareness of them. Both the punitive anger of the righteous and the burning resentment of the excluded occur because the demarcation lines are blurred, because values are shared and space is transfixed, because the same contradictions of reward and ontology exist throughout society, because the souls of those inside and those outside the ‘contented minority’ are far from dissimilar, sharing the same desires and passions, and suffering the same frustrations, because there is no security of place nor certainty of being and because differences are not essences but mere intonations of the minor scales of diversity.
The very intensity of the forces of exclusion is a result of borders which are regularly crossed rather than boundaries which are hermetically sealed. No caste-like social order would be as transfixed with crime nor so ready to demonise and pillory the other. For it is an altogether unsatisfactory exclusion: borders and boundaries are ineffective; they create resentment but do not achieve exclusivity. For the ‘excluded’ regularly pass across the boundaries whether physically or virtually: they sense injustice, they know about inequality, whereas those ‘lucky’ enough to be ‘included’ are not part of the ‘culture of contentment’ which John Galbraith famously alludes to, rather they are unsure about their good fortune, unclear about their identity, uncertain about their position on the included side of the line.
But to understand the nature of the forces of exclusion, the barriers set up to man the social structure, we must go further and look at the predicament of the ‘included’.
The Precariousness of Inclusion
We have discussed in the process of bulimia how the excluded are included in the norms, and social world of the wider society. But we can blur the binaries further for we must now understand how the social predicament and experience of the insiders parallel those of the outsiders and how this process is the key to understanding some of the most fundamental antagonisms within late modern society.
In order to understand this we must first of all distinguish the two basic facets of social order within advanced industrial societies. First of all the principle that rewards are allocated according to merit, that is a meritocratic notion of distributive justice. Secondly, that people’s sense of identity and social worth is respected by others, that is justice of recognition. When the first is infringed we speak of relative deprivation and when the second is violated we talk of misrecognition and ontological insecurity (see Young, 2001, Fraser, 1997). If we examine the terrain of late modernity in these key areas of distributive justice and justice of recognition we find a high degree of uncertainty. My assessment is that in both these areas late modernity brings with it a sense of randomness: a chaos of reward and a chaos of identity. To take distributive justice first of all, the unravelling of the labour markets and the lottery of who finds themselves in each sector, the rise of a service industry consisting of diverse and disparate units, the seemingly random discontinuities of career, the profligate and largely unmerited rewards in the property market and in finance, all give a sense of rewards which are allocated by caprice rather than by the rules of merit. My suggestion is that a generation which has been extensively instructed in the values of meritocracy are confronted with chaos in the market of rewards and this engenders a feeling of relative deprivation which does not have the easy comparative points of position in industry within standardised careers characteristic of Fordism, mass manufacturing industry and the Golden Age but is instead more individualistic in its envy, more internecine in its rivalry.
Secondly, in the area of recognition, of sense of worth and place, of ontology, there has been a parallel chaos. This is fuelled very largely by the widespread discontinuities of personal biography both in the world of work and within the family, coupled with the undermining of a sense of locality – of physical place of belonging (see Young, 2001). This disembeddedness (see Giddens, 1991) creates an ontological insecurity – an identity crisis: the most ready response to this being the evocation of an essentialism which asserts the core, unchanging nature of oneself and others. This consists of two stages, firstly an insistence of some essential and valued qualities (whether cultural or biological) which are associated with the individuals in question (whether of masculinity, ‘race’, class, religion or ethnicity), and secondly the denigration of others as essentially lacking these virtues (see Young, 1999). Furthermore, that such a process of mobilising negative essences with regards to others creates prejudices, exclusions and stereotypes within society which further fuel the feelings of ontological insecurity of others.
Both crime and punishment are areas greatly affected by these uncertainties. Relative deprivation especially when coupled with misrecognition and disparagement can readily lead to crime. The classic instance is economic marginalisation of a group accompanied by police harassment. But relative deprivation can also occur where someone higher in the class structure looking down can see undeserved rewards unmatched with the disciplines of work and restraint. Further just as the relative deprivation of the poor can lead to crime, the deprivation of the more wealthy can lead to feelings of punitiveness.
The Focus Upon the Underclass
As we have seen, the hard working citizen of the majority perceives a world where rewards seem allocated in a chaotic fashion. These rewards have become so diffuse that it is difficult to see rhyme or reason in society at large; hostility at this chaos of rewards tends to focus on the very rich or those at the bottom of the structure. That is those who are very obviously paid too much for the amount of work they do and those who are paid for doing no work. That is it fastens on the more obvious violators of meritocratic principle, namely the super rich and the underclass. The antagonism towards the idle rich and, for example, members of the Royal Family or company directors who allocate themselves incommensurate rewards, I have documented elsewhere (see Young, 1999).
The underclass, although in reality a group heterogeneous in composition and ill defined in their nature, is a ready target for resentment (see Gans, 1995, p.2; Bauman, 1998b, pp.66-7). Re-constituted, rendered clear cut and homogenous by the mass media, they became a prime focus of public attention in the sense of stereotypes: "the undeserving poor", "the single mother", "the welfare scrounger" etc., and an easy focus of hostility. Such stereotypes derive their constitution from the process of essentialising, so prevalent because of the prevalent crisis of identity. That is of negative images, the very opposite of the ‘virtues’ of the included thus casting the social world into the binary mould which I have discussed previously. Thus if the chaos of reward creates ready hostility towards the underclass, the chaos of identity grasps upon them as a phantasmagoric Other with all the opposite characteristics of the world of honest hardworking citizens and a ready prop to ontological security.
But note the paradox, here, an underclass which is, in fact, very similar to the rest of society, generates antagonism and distancing. The poor become more like the more wealthy, at the same time as they are ‘othered’ by them; the degree to which the poor become more like the rest, the more they resent their exclusion. Indeed, as we shall see, it is the narrowing of cultural differences which allows resentment to travel both ways along this two-way street. Thus, Zygmunt Bauman, insightfully notes how it is the very similarity of aspiration which the underclass has which exacerbates their dislike just as it is this self-same aspiration, thwarted, which creates discontent amongst the excluded. Thus in his critique of Laurence Mead he writes:
"The underclasses offend all the cherished values of the majority while clinging to them and desiring the same joys of consumer life as other people boast to have earned. In other words, what Americans hold against the underclass in their midst is that its dreams and the model of life it desires are so uncannily similar to their own." Further, and the other side of the coin, "it is logic of consumer society to mould its poor as unfilled consumers" yet these are becoming increasingly inaccessible to the poor" and moreover "it is precisely that inaccessibility of consumer lifestyles that the consumer society trains its members to experience as the most powerful of deprivations" (1998b, p.73).
Crime and the Narrowing of Differences
Feelings of discontent, of unfairness both in terms of material reward and recognition are experienced either when cultural differences diminish or when those that were once similar began to be regarded differently. That is because discontent relates to relative, not to absolute deprivation (see Runciman, 1966). Thus discontent rises: when migrants are assimilated or when lower classes are granted citizenship or when ethnic groups, once separate, become part of the mainstream, coupled with blockages of social mobility, limited access to privileged labour markets and public prejudice and denigration – in short, an incomplete meritocracy. The importance then of the ethnographies of Carl Nightingale on the black underclass of Philadelphia and Philippe Bourgois on the Puerto Ricans of the East Harlem barrio of New York City, is that they root discontent in the narrowing of cultural differences. In the first case Nightingale traces how much of African-American culture of the South is lost in the assimilated generation growing up in the Northern cities and, in the second, how it is the second generation Puerto Rican immigrants becoming more ‘American’ who experience the greatest discontent.
Thus the breakdown of spatial and social isolation in late modernity, which I have documented: a consequence of globalisation, the mass media, the consumer market, mass education leads to a diminishing of cultural differences and rise in discontent both within nations and between nations.
Towards a Sociology of Vindictiveness
Relative deprivation downwards, a feeling that those who work little or not at all are getting an easy ride on your back and your taxes, is a widespread sentiment. Thus whereas the ‘contented’ middle classes may well feel sympathy towards the underclass and their ‘relative satisfaction’ with their position translates into feelings of charity, those of the much larger constituency of discontent are more likely to demand welfare to work programmes, stamp down on dole ‘cheats’, etc. Such a response, whatever its rationality, is not in itself punitive: it is at most authoritarian but it is not necessarily vindictive. But tied to such a quasi-rational response to a violation of meritocratic principles – is frequently a much more compelling subtext which seeks not only to redress a perceived reluctance to work but to go beyond this to punish, demean and humiliate. (See Pratt, 2000; Hallsworth, 2000).
The key features of such resentment are disproportionality, scapegoating, and stereotyping. That is the group selected is seen to contribute to the problems of society quite disproportionally to their actual impact (eg teenage mothers, beggars, immigrants, drug users) and they are scapegoated and depicted as key players in the creation of social problems. Their portrayal is presented in an extraordinarily stereotypical fashion which bears little relationship to reality. Thus in The Exclusive Society I note how there seems to be a common narrative about such depictions of late modern folk devils in which is common from ‘single mothers’ to ‘drug addiction’ (see Young, 1999, p.113).
Svend Ranulf in his pathbreaking book Middle Class Psychology and Moral Indignation (1938) was intrigued by the desire to punish those who do not directly harm you. Such "moral indignation", he writes, is "the emotion behind the disinterested tendency to inflict punishment [and] is a kind of disguised envy" (1964, p.1). he explores this emotion using the concept of "resentment" which was first used by Nietzche in his condemnation of the moral basis of Christian ethics and developed by Max Scheler in his Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen (1923). Resentment has within it the impulse, as Merton put it, to "condemn what one secretly craves" (1957, p.156). Ranulf’s innovation was to locate resentment sociologically and to tie the source of envy to restraint and self-discipline. Thus he writes:
"the disinterested tendency to inflict punishment is a distinctive characteristic of the lower middle class, that is, of a social class living under conditions which force its members to an extraordinarily high degree of restraint and subject them to much frustration of natural desires" (1964, p.198).
It cannot be an accident that the stereotype of the underclass: with its idleness, dependency, hedonism and institutionalised irresponsibility, with its drug use, teenage pregnancies and fecklessness, represents all the traits which the respectable citizen has to suppress in order to maintain his or her lifestyle. Or as Albert Cohen famously put it, "The dedicated pursuit of culturally approved goals, the eschewing of interdicted but tantalizing goals, the adherence to normatively sanctioned means – these imply a certain self-restraint, effort, discipline, inhibition. What effect does the propinquity of the wicked have on the peace of mind of the virtuous?" (1965, p.7). such a social reaction is moral indignation rather than moral concern. The demons are not the fallen and the pitiful which fixate the philanthropist, rather they, at once, attract and repel: they are the demons within us which must daily be renounced. Thus the stereotype of minorities is not a wholly negative identity, for as Homi Bhabha reminds us, in a telling phrase, it is a "complex, ambivalent, contradictory mode of representation as anxious as it is assertive" (1993, p.70).
The rigours of late modernity extend such restraints and insecurities far beyond a narrow class band. A large part of the population are subject to relative deprivation and ontological uncertainties and on top of this the pressures and restraints necessary to function exacerbate this even further. To survive in the late modern world demands a great deal of effort, self-control, restraint. Not only is the job insecure and poorly paid, the hours worked are long – extra hours are expected as a sign of commitment and responsibility – children are often not seen for long after the long commute home – people talk of ‘quality time’ as a euphemism for ‘little’ – the weekends seem short and enjoyment has to be snatched often with the liberal aid of alcohol. The dual career family more and more becomes a norm with the planning both of adults’ and children’s schedules that this entails.
Let us summarise the restraints:
It is the experience of restraint and sacrifice which turns simple displeasure (a sense of unfairness) into vindictiveness. Furthermore, as the climate of work pressure and job uncertainty pervades a wide swathe of the class structure: it is not restricted to the lower middle classes – which Ranulf pinpointed, in line with much of the thinking at the time with its concerns about the rise and social basis of fascism (see also Luttwak, 1995). Moreover this climate of restraint exists on the top of the problems of job security and fairness of rewards and the crises of identity – we thus have a three layered process, each layer contributing to the process of the demonisation of the underclass:
Such a process is, of course, not that of simple envy. The lawyer does not want to be a junkie, the professional woman certainly did not want to be a teenage mother, the bank manager could not countenance being a street beggar, the life of the new wave traveller does not instantly draw the careful couple from Croydon. Certainly not: for both real and imagined reasons, the lives of such disgraced ‘Others’ are impoverished and immiserised. No one would want to swap places with them. But their very existence, their moral intransigence, somehow hits all the weak spots of our character armour. Let us think for one moment of the hypothetical day of the hypothetical ‘included’ citizen on the advantaged side of the binary: the traffic jam on the way to work, the hours which have been slowly added to the working day, the crippling cost of housing and the mortgage which will never end, the need for both incomes to make up a family wage, the delay in having children so that the woman’s career can get established, the fear of biological timeclocks and infertility, the daily chore of getting the children to school across the crowded city, the breakdown of locality and community, the planning of the day of two careers and two children (thank God for the mobile ‘phone!), the lack of time with the children, the fear of missing out: ‘they’ve grown up before you knew it’, the temptations and fears of the abuse of alcohol as a means of enjoyment, in the time slots between the rigours of work …
It is surely not difficult to see how an underclass who, at least in stereotype, are perceived as having their children irresponsibly early, hanging around all day with their large families, having public housing provided almost free, living on the dole, staying up late drinking and taking exotic, forbidden substances and on top of all that committing incivilities and predatory crimes against the honest citizen, are an easy enemy. They set off every trigger point of fear and desire.
We live in a world, therefore, of intense anxieties and conflicts. Social inclusion, as it has been widely formulated, merely reproduces the exclusions it attempts to remedy and in doing so replays the resentments which underlie the deep social divisions within late modern society. To conclude I wish to outline a transformative politics which would allow us to move beyond the repeated reaffirmation of the status quo.
Affirmative and Transformative Inclusion
Nancy Fraser in Justice Interruptus develops an extremely useful typology of the politics of reform based on the two dimensions of redistribution and recognition. Reform, she argues, must recognise the necessity of changes in both these areas assuaging both the failings of distributive justice and misrecognition and devaluation. But to this dichotomy she adds a further distinction: between the politics of affirmation and the politics of transformation. Affirmative politics merely involves the surface transfer of resources without changing the basic underlying divisions whereas transformative politics seek to eliminate the basic underlying structures of injustice (see Young, 1999; Mooney, 2000). Thus in the area of redistribution affirmative remedies involve, for example, coercing the underclass into the labour market at extremely low wages. Their underclass position is merely reproduced this time within the lower reaches of the market place (see Levitas, 1996). This movement of people from one category of exclusion to another is experienced, as I have argued above, not as inclusion but as exclusion. Relative deprivation would, of course, not be solved by such 'inclusionary' politics and the sources of discontent which are liable to generate high crime rates would be unabated. Transformative redistribution, on the other hand, would involve such measures as retraining so that jobs could be gained and then rewarded on a meritocratic basis - thus putting a genuine element of equality into equal opportunity policies, the recognition of non-paid work (eg child rearing, caring for ageing parents) as of vital importance for social reproduction, the creation of viable childcare infrastructures for women with children, ad the enforcement of a minimum wage on a level which allows the individual an existence which is neither demeaning nor severely straitening in circumstance. Above all it would not fetishize paid work - it would not view such work as the vital prerequisite for full citizenship, for acceptance and inclusion in society.
An affirmative politics of recognition does not question the various essentialisms of difference. That is, in the case of conventional multiculturalism, what is stressed is the need for the positive recognition of various groups on equal terms, for example: Irish, African-Caribbean, Gays, Women, etc. In contrast, transformative politics seek to break down and destabilise the categories by questioning the very notion of fixed identity and essence. Thus the invented notion of tradition is challenged, the overlapping, interwoven nature of what are supposedly separate cultures stressed, and the ambiguity and blurred nature of boundaries emphasised. Diversity is encouraged and, where non-oppressive, celebrated, but difference is seen as a phenomenon of cultures in flux not essences which are fixed.
In the case of crime and punishment, the critique of essences both in criminal victimisation and in punishment is a high priority. The category of hate crimes must be widened out in the realisation that a considerable proportion of acts of violence involve vocabularies of motive which debase and dehumanise the victim (see I Young, 1990). Thus not only crimes against gays and blacks, but against women, the elderly, the poor etc. In terms of our response to crime it is vital that the essentialism which runs through the discourses about crime and its causes is thoroughly debunked. Important, here, is to confront and shatter the triptych which locates crime spatially and socially in three loci - the underclass, the drug user and the immigrant. Such a combination, portrayed as interdependent and very frequently racialised, is presented as the major source of crime and disorder in our society.
Against this we must emphasise that crime occurs throughout the structure of society and that its origins lie not in a separate aetiology but in the structure of society and its core values. The identification of a distinct criminal class is an endeavour bound to failure. Politicians forget this at their peril. Tony Blair roundly castigates drunken hooligans one week and calls for robust legislation to bring them under control when in the next week his own 16 year old son is arrested for drunkenness in Central London. A year previously, the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, famous for his tough on crime approach and the appointment of a drug Czar, is awakened from sleep by a telephone call from the police to inform them that his son has been arrested for selling drugs. As the perceptive journalist Joan Smith put it:
"The Government's responses are off the cuff and authoritarian … Again and again it reveals an us-and-them mentality as though there are only two Britons: decent God-fearing folk whose only transgression is the occasional parking ticket and a violent, anti-social sub-class whose members habitually exploit drugs and alcohol and deliberately go out deliberately looking for trouble." (2000, p.13).
The Changing Meaning of Social Inclusion
At the start of this paper I discussed the journey into late modernity. It is necessary to examine the terrain, chose our means of travel and be clear as to our destination. We have seen how the terrain has changed dramatically: employment, family, community - the structure of society, has become less secure, boundaries blur, identities are less and less fixed, place and social category become less determinate in prescribing behaviour, vocabularies of motive lose their mooring in discrete parts of the structure - we have entered the period of what Bauman (2000b) graphically calls 'liquid modernity'. And this terrain has become a more risky place both in terms of crime and disorder and in terms of demonisation and scapegoating.
The terrain has changed and, of course, with it the available means of change. Thus as Hans Hofman (1996) pointed out, the worthy social democratic critiques of society which link crime and punitiveness to lack of stable employment, community and family life assume that we can nostalgically bring these entities of the 1960s back into existence by an act of political will. In the case of community, this is an implausible dream possible only for a minority. Artificially created communities, such as Disney's new town 'Celebration' in central Florida (Ross, 1999) are the exceptions which prove this rule. But this is true of the other institutional areas. Take paid work as an example, an important site both of distributive justice and identity. Herein, as André Gorz trenchantly puts it:
"is an enormous fraud. There is not and never will be 'enough work' (enough paid, steady, full-time employment) for everyone any longer, but society (or, rather, capital), which no longer needs everyone's labour, and is coming to need it less and less, keeps on repeating that it is not society which needs work (far from it!), but you who need it, …
"Never has the 'irreplaceable', 'indispensable' function of labour as the source of 'social ties', 'social cohesion', 'integration', 'socialization', 'personalization', 'personal identity' and meaning been invoked so obsessively as it has since the day it became unable any longer to fulfil any of these functions … Having become insecure, flexible, intermittent, variable as regards hours and wages, employment no longer integrates one into a community, no longer structures the daily, weekly or annual round, or the stages of life, and is no longer the foundation on which everyone can base his/her life project.
"The society in which everyone could hope to have a place and a future marked out for him/her - the 'worked-based society', in which he/she could hope to have security and usefulness - is dead. Work now retains merely a phantom centrality: phantom in the sense of phantom limb from which an amputee might continue to feel pain …" (1999, pp.57-8).
Work in the sense of that which involves self-realisation and creativity, is not, of course, dead but secure, paid, full-time employment for life is considerably diminished and where it exists does not have this quality. Hence Gorz's title 'Reclaiming Work'. Work, like the community and the family, needs to be reformulated if we are to seek to provide the basis of identity and social worth.
But the direction where we are going has also dramatically altered. Social inclusion as a goal has changed meaning from the Golden Age of the post-war period. Whereas inclusion once meant lifetime stabilities of work, family and locality embedded in a culture of homogeneity, inclusion must now entail re-assessment and change in all these spheres and the creation of narratives which can cope with instabilities and uncertainties of biography and the problems of identity in a diverse society. The fundamental flaw in the present discourse about social exclusion is that its terms of reference are inclusion into a world that is fast disappearing.
Towards a New Politics of Inclusion
"The central fault line in modern post-industrial society is that between the winners and the losers in the global marketplace. The lion's share of the extraordinary productivity gains associated with the current capitalist renaissance has gone to the owners of capital, to a new techno-managerial elite and to a handful of stars in the increasingly global entertainment industries … Confronting them are the losers: the anxious middle classes, threatened by proletarianisation; the increasingly casualised working class; and the burgeoning underclass. That fault line runs through the new Labour coalition. No project for social inclusion will work unless it captures some of the winners' gains and redirects them to the losers. The notion … that the workfare state can turn the trick all by itself, that a mixture of training, education and moral suasion can transform the entire society into winners, and that this can be done at nil cost to those who have already won, is an illusion … the losers' interests are bound to differ from those of the winners, and it is self-deception to pretend otherwise." (1998, p.85)
We live increasingly in a consensus of broken narratives: jobs lost, relationships ended, neighbourhoods left and localities transformed beyond recognition. The contrast in the post-war Golden Age between the mass of workers in steady jobs and the tiny minority of unemployed has gone as has the division between stable families and a minority of broken homes and all-embracing organic communities and the few nooks and crannies of anomie and disintegration. As we have seen the discourse about social exclusion has nostalgically sought to resurrect this Golden Age, it has attempted to construct solidarity in terms which few in our society - let alone the poor - could seek to emulate. What ironically the mass of us have in common is exactly what this discourse disparages. Yet there is a considerable measure of potential solidarity on such issues - especially across the fissure which David Marquand so clearly demarcates: between the minority who have profited so well out of late modernity both in terms of income and recognition, and the vast majority outside of this privileged orbit. Similarly we live now in an increasingly diverse society both in terms of cultures of origin and those lifestyles which we have chosen to develop. Whereas the Golden Age saw inclusion as meaning assimilation into a massive, homogeneous culture, today inclusion means the recognition of our mutual diversity. Here again this shared diversity is something which can unite us. It is difficult to talk of 'them' and 'us' where there are numerous 'thems' and various 'us's'. The emergence of cities where people of great diversity live in close proximity is, however unintended, one of the great achievements of late modernity. It is this frisson of diversity which, as Iris Young (1990) reminds us, makes for the great excitement of the city and its attraction for so many.
But such politics which seem to transform the distribution of reward and celebrates diversity is counterposed against that which involves the internecine resentment of the fairly well off against the poor and where uncertainties of identity are shored up by stigmatising and 'othering' vulnerable groups within the population. The discourse of social exclusion as presently constituted feeds into this latter regressive process, what we need is a reconceptualisation of inclusion to enhance a politics which welcomes social justice and diversity.
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