Sociological Talk Review

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The speaker that I'm going to review is Tom Slater, who works at the University of Edinburgh and spoke at the Urban Marginality and the State Conference in Paris, France. The conference had speakers such as Javier Auyero, Kate Swanson and Loic Wacquant and all had to do with the discrimination with races and classes within urban settings. Tom Slater studied politicians and the media, and their portrayal about individuals on welfare. Because of the recent recession, a series of reforms were put in place in Britain to lessen the state's help for those on welfare. Tom Slater argues that these are not reforms, but assaults on the welfare state. Many of the benefits of welfare were halted or reduced and as a result many people were evicted from their homes and were put on even financial strain. However, the public responded with support for this policy and the media has not responded with any sympathy. These people on welfare have been demonized as scroungers who get way too much money from the government and welfare dependency is seen as a growing disease. As a result of these reforms, thousands of people protested outside a police station, the protest escalated and turned into a riot, and set four buildings on fire. 1,500 people were prosecuted and the politicians instructed the lawmakers to be especially harsh, which resulted in one person getting sentenced to six months in prison for stealing a bottle of water. Prime Minister David Cameron blamed the lawlessness and bad behavior that is promoted in these poor neighborhoods for the riot. He focused on the people who participated in the riot instead of their motivations for rioting in the first place. Slater talked about how the idea of "family breakdown" caused the mentalities towards the riot. The characteristics of family breakdown are dissolution, dysfunction and dadlessness and this is what the British government blames for the riot. However, the book "Reading the Riots" talks to over two hundred people who participated in the riot and they all say the same thing: they participated in the riot because they had felt invisible and excluded from the opportunities that most British people have. This talk was very enlightening about the discrimination that working class people face and the lack of understanding that the society has about them.

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This page contains a single entry by chalm029 published on May 6, 2013 3:49 PM.

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