Public Lecture

Tuesday 5th December, 7pm Involve Centre, Mint Lane

Distress in a city: racism, fundamentalism and a psychosocial imagination

Professor Linden West, Canterbury Christ Church University

The lecture draws on my recent book to explore the diverse problems of a post-industrial city – Stoke, where I was born – taken as representative of many similar communities across the Western world (West, 2016). Using auto/biographical narrative research, I have chronicled the diverse stories people tell, in different ethnic communities, including the stories of those attracted to racist organisations and religious fundamentalism, and even to Jihad. There is also widespread resentment among the white working class at the failures and judgementalism of political, economic and cultural elites, which found expression in support for the BNP, EDL, UKIP, and the vote for Brexit.

The rise of racism in white working class communities, and of Islamophobia, is mirrored by pockets of Islamic fundamentalism in predominantly Muslim communities. Processes of social, cultural and intergenerational fragmentation, and the crisis of multiculturalism, connect with rapid economic decline, a malfunctioning representative democracy, an epidemic of mental illness and the decline of public space, all located within a more individualised, social Darwinist culture. To understand these dynamics requires, I suggest, an interdisciplinary psychosocial imagination, reaching back to the Chicago School of Sociology and forward to a more holistic appreciation of the importance of recognition in human well-being, encompassing intimate, psychological and socio-cultural worlds, and drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
I will also refer to historical as well as contemporary research (West, 2017) to illuminate where resources of hope lie, which includes the past and potential role of universities in building a more democratised, inclusive and cooperative learning culture.

Readings
West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.
London: Trentham
West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. Special issue, The Learning Adult. 36, 1 &2, 129-144.

Other references
Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of reason: on the legacy of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rose, J. (2010) The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. 2nd Edn. New York: Yale University Press.

Professor Linden West works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is the author of many books and articles, derived from auto/biographical narrative enquiry, and using an interdisciplinary psychosocial theoretical framing. The books include Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education; Doctors on the edge: healing and learning in the inner city; and Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis. He co-authored Using biographical methods in social research with Barbara Merrill and co-edited Psychoanalysis and Education, Minding a Gap, with Alan Bainbridge. He jointly co-ordinates a European Life History and Biography Research Network and is a registered psychoanalytical psychotherapist.

The Landlord’s Game & Prosperity

28th November, 7pm at Mint Lane

Next session will be a practical look at land value tax, via The Landlord’s Game & Prosperity, games designed by the feisty and fascinating Elizabeth Magie.

Take a listen to this super-short reading – Kate Raworth giving a brief history of monopoly – read or listen here: https://aeon.co/ideas/monopoly-was-invented-to-demonstrate-the-evils-of-capitalism

Intrigued? More recommended reading:

Kate Raworth – Doughnut Economics (currently available from Lincoln Central Library, who helpfully bought this book for us!) http://www.kateraworth.com/doughnut/

You’ll find a variety of boards and rules for early versions here: http://landlordsgame.info/

Social housing & homelessness in Lincoln

Social Housing and Homelessness in Lincoln (Lucy)

Discussion Notes: 14 November 2017 at Mint Lane, Lincoln

Reading: chapter 1 of Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paolo Friere

http://www.msu.ac.zw/elearning/material/1335344125freire_pedagogy_of_the_oppresed.pdf

Scholars present: Lucy, Phil, Mike, Louise, Eddie, Laura, Meredith, Sarah, Fen

Lucy offered to guide a facilitated discussion on Homelessness in relation to Chapter 1 of Paulo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972), and with honesty, explained that when working as a Homelessness Support Worker was often frustrated that the role made her feel part of the problem rather than the solution. Unfortunately, this was because when trying to assist the homeless she also felt like an oppressor through ensuring they ‘complied’ with the defined (and punitive) supported housing rules, thus clearly identifying with Friere’s proposition of false charity. This unlocked a much
wider and diverse dialogue. Some of the key points and perspectives freely presented by scholars are summarised below:

Are we all part of the system anyway?

 We can only be engaged with the reality that we are in… we can work and live within/without the system… we have choice, we are privileged to choose – we acknowledge that others do not have choice
 There is always the possibility of hope… our frustration should not stop our perseverance to change the system
 How we are educated (inculcated) via the system reinforces the system. Ditto being ‘treated’ by the NHS
 There is alternative education – Freire’s purpose in educating peasants (Mike kindly gave useful insight in to Freire’s background and his lifelong determination to educate the oppressed, and ultimately the oppressors).
 The current system constrains our abilities to offer help: employees “up against the wall”, “gagged by funders”
 Oppression of workers in UK – are trade unions part of the problem? Are they bullies?
 Elsewhere (non-UK) appears to have better cooperation between trade unions and employers
 UK is poor relation – lack of labour, skills, worker’s right, zero hours contracts adds to causation of homelessness
 Important to recognise the principle of trade unions – what brings them together = collective purpose
 Identification of Squatting/Travelling movement as real self-organisation/help – creative pooling of resources
 What is the definition of ‘Homelessness’? Does it have meaning? – defined by government (system)
 Homeless/homelessness demonised; abetted by media perception: serves the system’s purpose?
 Statistics report significant rise in homelessness – Universal Credit (UC) will make it worse
 UC is a deliberately designed sanction to create forced employment – made to work therefore conform
 Leads back to Freire’s perspective of Dehumanisation – work is part of the system = prostitution
 Work equals humiliation, and is further entrenched and measured through work based appraisals
 Creating temporary autonomous zones (i.e. alternative free festivals) offers fresh perspectives for the oppressed
 Exilic Communities – mutual aid/liberation. See ‘Living on the Edges of Capitalism’ (Grubacic & O’Hearn, 2016)
 See ‘Riot. Strike. Riot. The New Era of Uprisings’ (Clover, 2016). Undoing professionalism: hierarchical arrogance
 Solution: our refusal to work – value comes from human labour – system requires surplus value to survive
 Growth is essential for the system. When growth can not be met, it begins to asset strip, moves production out
 Counteract by right to strike – withdrawal of labour; system would react by enforcing war to recreate status quo
 We need to make a leap of faith. Consider occupation and cooperation to find alternative solutions
 Work with the system to influence new housing projects which do not put property in landlord ownership
 Better tenancy rights. More social housing. There should not be limitations who can access housing
 Housing not allocated through the lens of the deserving and undeserving. ‘Ownership’ should be communal
 Can we occupy the commons? There are alternative ways of living/being. Home ownership creates divisions
 Follow Freire’s proposition – strive to make a difference through educating and learning – seek objectivity
 Who is really homeless? Should we give money to the homeless/beggars? Opinions divided

 

Notes by Fen

Public Lecture by Prof. Linden West

Tuesday 5th December, 7pm Involve Centre, Mint Lane

Distress in a city: racism, fundamentalism and a psychosocial imagination

Professor Linden West, Canterbury Christ Church University

The lecture draws on my recent book to explore the diverse problems of a post-industrial city – Stoke, where I was born – taken as representative of many similar communities across the Western world (West, 2016). Using auto/biographical narrative research, I have chronicled the diverse stories people tell, in different ethnic communities, including the stories of those attracted to racist organisations and religious fundamentalism, and even to Jihad. There is also widespread resentment among the white working class at the failures and judgementalism of political, economic and cultural elites, which found expression in support for the BNP, EDL, UKIP, and the vote for Brexit.

The rise of racism in white working class communities, and of Islamophobia, is mirrored by pockets of Islamic fundamentalism in predominantly Muslim communities. Processes of social, cultural and intergenerational fragmentation, and the crisis of multiculturalism, connect with rapid economic decline, a malfunctioning representative democracy, an epidemic of mental illness and the decline of public space, all located within a more individualised, social Darwinist culture. To understand these dynamics requires, I suggest, an interdisciplinary psychosocial imagination, reaching back to the Chicago School of Sociology and forward to a more holistic appreciation of the importance of recognition in human well-being, encompassing intimate, psychological and socio-cultural worlds, and drawing on the insights of psychoanalysis and critical theory.
I will also refer to historical as well as contemporary research (West, 2017) to illuminate where resources of hope lie, which includes the past and potential role of universities in building a more democratised, inclusive and cooperative learning culture.

Readings
West L (2016) Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and democratic education.
London: Trentham
West, L. (2017) Resisting the enormous condescension of posterity: Richard Henry Tawney, Raymond Williams and the long struggle for a democratic education. International Journal of Lifelong Education. Special issue, The Learning Adult. 36, 1 &2, 129-144.

Other references
Honneth, A. (2009) Pathologies of reason: on the legacy of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rose, J. (2010) The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. 2nd Edn. New York: Yale University Press.

Professor Linden West works at Canterbury Christ Church University, and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is the author of many books and articles, derived from auto/biographical narrative enquiry, and using an interdisciplinary psychosocial theoretical framing. The books include Distress in the city: racism, fundamentalism and a democratic education; Doctors on the edge: healing and learning in the inner city; and Beyond Fragments, adults, motivation and higher education, a biographical analysis. He co-authored Using biographical methods in social research with Barbara Merrill and co-edited Psychoanalysis and Education, Minding a Gap, with Alan Bainbridge. He jointly co-ordinates a European Life History and Biography Research Network and is a registered psychoanalytical psychotherapist.

Notes from introductory class: Lincoln and the Built Environment, 17th Oct

Venue: Mint Lane

Present: Laura S, Melanie, Sarah, David,  Laura W, Jade, Merideth, Philip, Rob, Lucy and Mike

Apologies: Bradley


The seminar started with an introduction to the Social Science Centre, including its aims and purposes. We looked at the series of events planned for this term.There was a wide ranging discussion about what people hoped to get out of attending this and other seminars, and what they could contribute to forthcoming sessions.

As the topic for this year is Lincoln and the Built Environment people spoke about their own relationship to the city and its surrounding area, particularly Gainsborough and the St Giles estate, an area of social housing and urban planning based on the Garden Cities movement, inspired by among others Ebenezer Howard. Lincoln was seen as a city with plenty of social and cultural as well as intellectual resources. However, Lincoln has many social and economic problems that were not always apparent or discussed. It was agreed that these social and economic issues were significant and should be considered at forthcoming seminars on the built environment.

Suggestions for contributions to the sessions in the new year are:

The anthropology of violence and war

 Newly formed communities in dystopian places

 Seven Generation Planning

Sustainable environmental planning

 Settler communities, migration and indigenous knowledge