The perfect letter from a sociology lecturer

In explaining the rise in inequality between young people in Britain, you dismiss “policy prescriptions driven by ideology” as a “retreat to dogma” (“Too many UK children are born to fail. Why?”, Editorial). As a consequence of this, you then fall into the trap that other proponents of the “end of ideology” thesis make and place the blame for the “problem” on to the “teenage mother who sometimes has no idea how to create a warm, safe, nurturing environment” and, subsequently, needs the help of a government better able to “get the balance between universal and targeted interventions right”.

The problem is the flawed pathology of the lone parent, in need of treatment. This indolent attempt at explanation denies the evidence that more and more working-class and ethnic minority youth find themselves in a world with vastly diminishing opportunities – a situation caused by economic, social and political changes fashioned under three decades of neoliberal restructuring.

To refute this historical and ideological reality is dangerous, for it distracts attention away from the only viable solution to ending this “social apartheid” – the abandonment of the neoliberal project, and a return to economic and social policies shaped by social democratic values and notions of solidarity, justice, democracy and inclusion.

Charlie Cooper

Lecturer in Community & Youth Work Studies, School of Social Sciences

University of Hull

The only thing it’s missing is “We are all guilty”.

15 thoughts on “The perfect letter from a sociology lecturer”

  1. So, all the problems caused by mixing various equally poisoned cocktails of statism/socialism into the market are going to be solved by an even nastier dose of statism/socialism. What these clowns call neo-liberal is fascism which itself is socialism-lite.

    Taking a piece of paper and listing on one side all the things in the world that happen by voluntary co-operation and on the other side all the things that happen because of the violent threats of the state might help these morons sort out what is what. The fact that a few crawling turds who call themselves “businessmen” are over on the evil side of the page, sucking govt tit, does not make them the cause of the states evil.

  2. more and more working-class and ethnic minority youth find themselves in a world with vastly diminishing opportunities


  3. “the only viable solution”

    Well. I admit to a near-kneejerk negative reaction when I encounter this remark.

    I think it’s because it strikes me as “indolent.”


  4. To be fair, our professor of chavology has on his doorstep the largest full-scale laboratory in the UK in which to conduct his studies, Bransholme.

    The letter just reinforces what those who have lived in East Yorkshire have always known, nothing good (except Mick Ronson) comes out of the shit hole which is Hull.

  5. more and more working-class and ethnic minority youth find themselves in a world with vastly diminishing opportunities

    That’s what happens when they keep electing socialist governments. The last thing socialist politicians want is for their captive voters to have opportunities to improve their lives on their own; if they had them, they might stop voting for socialists.

  6. When will these people get that the problem is “social democratic values” rather than “neoliberal restructuring”. It’s social stuff not neoliberal stuff that puts the state in the father’s place.

    Let’s be blunt. The way things used to work were that dad would stick around and contribute to the raising of his children in return for sex. The ladies had to offer said sex to keep him keen, and keep their children fed.

    Now the state fulfils all the paternal roles for these women’s families, they can just borrow a bloke for sex and reproduction when they want it at their sole discretion. They have no incentive to keep the bloke around (financial) and the bloke has no incentive to stick around (easy access to sex).

  7. There are plenty of opportunities out there – there’s just no incentive to look for them.

    This guy is comedy gold.

    Though anyone who uses the phrase ‘notions of’ or the word ‘dangerous’ in a context other than of actual danger needs a good shoeing.

    I know Charlie is a man’s name, but I blame the women (actually, in this case I really do – though not the powerful Puritan women in their Oxfordshire drawing rooms, the slags).

  8. What they need is traditional opportunities in better ages past: mass conscription into the army to die abroad; death from easily preventable diseases and infections; even death from starvation if you go back far enough.

    A state education system which educated them and gave a shit would be a start, but I don’t think our Trot friend wants to go there.

  9. Translated, is what he says actually anything we’d disagree with? I think it’s pretty true that single motherhood is not in itself a terrible evil, and that the bigger picture is that we have plenty of problems with those from similar backgrounds who are not from a single-parent home as well. We do basically have an underclass with zero opportunity.

    The sociology-speak aside, he’s not wholly wrong. It is of course amusing to see the phraseology, but that doesn’t mean the meat of the message is incorrect.

  10. When I was young (in Norway) you could chip rust at sea or dig ditches at home for a living, work demanding no more intelligence or education than eating bananas. Now merely getting a train ticket or paying the doctor seems to demand that you have been playing computer games, successfully, for a few hundred hours. – Well, yes that’s hyperbole because I’m growing old, but just maybe some parts of the population have trouble keeping up with increasing demands?

    Those calling themselves libertarians and the like are generally quick to admit inequality in ability and in praising the market’s efficiency in distributing work according to this unequal ability – and perhaps the market is effective and the right incentives are at work, but that regrettably manual labour, and its nearest equivalents, has now become pretty worthless? I saw a TV documentary on a French mining town with closed mines once; they had these experts to research work-opportunities for the laid-off miners, and their conclusion was that “these people are unemployable.”

  11. “nef consulting” says that “In fact, 81% of young people 16-21 years old who are long-term workless have parents with low qualifications, and 77% live in social rented housing.” This implies, if one ignores the higher proportion of pensioners living in social housing, young people living in social housing are 15 times more likely to be unemployed than those whose parents are owner-occupiers or private sector tenants. With social housing rents only 50%* of market rates and ethnic minorities being under-represented in social housing (despite whatever the Daily Wail says), the facts don’t permit any *honest* man to say this is down to low disposable income or ethnicity. Indian and Chinese parents bring their children up, whether they are rich or poor.
    * for pre-2010 tenants

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