Social polarisation at the local level: a four-town comparative study on the challenges of politicising inequality in Britain

Journal article


Koch, I., Fransham, M., Cant, S., Ebrey, J., Glucksberg, L. and Savage, M. 2020. Social polarisation at the local level: a four-town comparative study on the challenges of politicising inequality in Britain. Sociology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038520975593
AuthorsKoch, I., Fransham, M., Cant, S., Ebrey, J., Glucksberg, L. and Savage, M.
Abstract

This paper examines how intensifying inequality in the UK plays out at a local level, in order to bring out the varied ways polarisation takes place ‘on the ground’. It brings a community analysis buttressed by quantitative framing to the study of economic, spatial and relational polarisation in four towns in the United Kingdom. We distinguish differing dynamics of ‘elite-based’ polarisation (in Oxford and Tunbridge Wells) and ‘poverty-based’ polarisation (in Margate and Oldham). Yet there are also common features. Across the towns, marginalised communities express a sense of local belonging. But tensions between social groups also remain strong and all towns are marked by a weak or ‘squeezed middle’. We argue that the weakness of intermediary institutions, including but not limited to the ‘missing middle’, and capable of bridging gaps between various social groups, provides a major insight into both the obstacles to, and potential solutions for, re-politicizing inequality today.

KeywordsCommunity studies; Inequality; Polarisation; Segregation; Brokers; Intermediaries; Political Mobilisation
Year2020
JournalSociology
PublisherSAGE
ISSN0038-0385
1469-8684
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0038038520975593
Official URLhttp://doi.org/10.1177/0038038520975593
Publication dates
Online14 Dec 2020
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Jan 2021
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
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