Ben Jones - CRESC
I am a social historian based at CRESC with interests in the British working class, memory studies and the history of social research. I am particularly interested in the intersections between class, gender, life-cycle and individual socio-spatial trajectories, and wider cultural representations of place in understanding the ways in which memories of particular communities are articulated. In recent work I have been looking at the roles of slum clearance, residualisation and stigmatization in popular understandings of ‘community’ and social change in working class neighbourhoods in England. I have argued that assertions that social and spatial dislocations produced by slum clearance and social mobility produced nostalgia for the old communities are insufficiently nuanced. I have argued that such narratives may be more fruitfully understood as the product of a radical attempt to recover working class experience, which contested dominant representations of the working class as deficient. However, I’m now wondering if this is sufficient. I’ve recently been reading around ‘transactive’ remembering and thinking about how particular audiences shape what gets told. This is perhaps a key missing element in my analysis of community publishing. The relationship between time and community is another important element in shaping social scientific readings/social policy in the post-war period. I am thinking particularly about assertions of ‘traditional’ patterns of working class family life and understandings of lifestyles or environments which seem ‘out-moded.’ Particular (mis)understandings of time and community also seem to have informed area-based regeneration initiatives such as the New Deal for Communities.
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