Critically analyse, how contemporary Neoliberal configurations of class, race, gender and citizenship are, embodied and enacted in an urban neighbourhood of your choice.
Neoliberalism is a reference to the shaping influence of capitalism on modern life. This movement typically begun in the 1920s at the rise of a capitalist mass society which included mass production and a mass consumer market. Its often defined as being a political movement, that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth. It is a small-state economic ideology based on promoting “rational self-interest”.
As part of this module, Ive chosen to apply Neoliberalism to the Hill Fields area in Coventry. Hill Fields is a residential suburb in Coventry with plenty of history. I’ve often heard of how rough Hill Fields used to be from local Coventry citizens and how it was once fuelled with gang violence not so long ago. Hill Fields also has a notoriety for homing Coventry’s very own red light district. It is located northeast of the city centre. Several factories involved in Coventry’s once-booming motor industry were based in Hillfields, which was heavily damaged in the Coventry Blitz and redeveloped into housing.
Typically Hill Fields is a working class area. However, research has shown me that between 1841 and 1861, the time which the majority of houses in Hill Fields were built. The area became the home of upper class freemen weavers and the other parts of the city were for the lower classes, and factory workers. This was due to the fact that the standard of living of those moving to Hill Fields was much higher than those remaining in the city slums. Immediately, this showed me a ago or difference which is noted in todays modern society. The dividing of the upper classes to the poorer classes. Neo-liberalism lies about a ‘free state for all’. If the state was truly free surely there would be no ruling class and the residential areas would be mixed with the privileged and less privileged. During, this period it is apparent to note that Neo-liberalist ideologies were already implemented as there was a shaping influence of growth into modern life for Coventry locals. The building of new houses and a booming car manufacturing industry right at their door steps, Hill Fields residents were probably excited at the new opportunities arising.
However, such is not the case now, when looking at Hill Fields. An area mainly populated by immigrants Hill Fields is now a working class area. After the second world war destroyed many of the buildings and houses in the area there was a massive rebuilding scheme to build more housing for people, so they built tower blocks. Redevelopment of the area began in the early 1960s with the intention of housing a population of 6,000 people in high-density areas. Halfway through the decade, three mid-rise tower blocks had been completed, with two more larger ones being under construction and in planning. Upon the completion of the construction, thirteen tower blocks had been built.
During its redevelopment Hill Fields had already been branded by the state. Tower blocks are a symbol of the working class and the division between rich and poor. Neo-Liberalism is the mask that covers this up. Typically tower blocks are sociated with people of colour/ immigrants mainly because these are the people that have come the country to work.
Tony Blaire stated in 1999 that “the class war is over. But the struggle for true equality has only just begun”. In a culture where neo-liberal ideas represent wealth as the dominant force and impetus of everything, its hard to believe that there can be such a thing is true equality. The above pictures shows us the unfairity of the state to quickly build a block of flats were, theres so many people squashed in one area which causes turmoil and hostility in that area there by becoming dangerous. These are the areas you later hear about not be in at night etc. It also important to note the way in which people are classed in areas like Hill Fields. As if being branded working class wasn’t enough but also to be given a racial slur refereeing to the type of person you are, Chav! Typically, tower blocks is where you’re going to find people who are represented as being problematic, long term benefit claimers, and welfare dependant.
Coventry Society. (2013). Hillfields. Available: http://www.coventrysociety.org.uk/coventry-neighbourhoods/hillfields.html. Last accessed May 2014.
Hall, S. (2011) “The Neoliberal Revolution.” Cultural Studies 25(6): 705-728.