Ragworth : the emergence and development of a disadvantaged estate : a study in the residualisation of public sector housing in a de-industrialising conurbation
The primary objective of this thesis is to explain how a particular council estate in Stockton-on-Tees became run-down and disadvantaged. However, the pursuit of such an explanation demands a historical, social, political and economic perspective embracing the conurbation within which the estate is located. In fact, it is necessary to go beyond the confines of Teesside and take account of national and international processes and forces. With regard to national influences, these have played a crucial role in the urban growth of Stockton and in the progressive diminution of its public housing sector to create an increasingly residualised welfare tenure. Moreover, central mechanisms and decisions taken by international capital have de-industrialised the Teesside conurbation and led to high and long-term unemployment. So disadvantage has increased for this and other reasons, and the minority of the population suffering it are largely housed in council accommodation. Local characteristics and factors also play a crucial part in the way that central forces impact on a locality, mediating and modifying their consequences depending on the particular configuration of industrial, social, etc., features that impart to local areas their unique traditions and identities. Yet, significant as this interaction is between central forces and local factors in creating a poorer stock of council housing and the disadvantaged families who live in it, to explain how and why particular run-down areas arise can also demand a closer focus on individual estates to explore specific causes. A further theme of this study concerns the possibilities and mechanisms of change on disadvantaged estates. One such period of change on Ragworth is examined in the light of before-and-after survey research, as is a new regime of decentralised management which followed. Finally, the effects of current policy initiatives are measured against the immense problems posed by the shifts in the social class structure represented by the growth of disadvantage and the emergence of what has been described as an underclass.