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Title: The making of a British 'underclass' in the 1990s : a geography of power/knowledge
Author: Haylett, Christine M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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Following a critical discussion of the theories of knowledge developed in the work of Michel Foucault, Bruno Latour and Nancy Fraser this thesis shows the spaces of 'underclass' to be produced by the workings of power/knowledge, practices by socially embedded individuals and situated within networks of relations. The contemporary configuration of those networked spaces is examined via three case studies each of which is the subject of a chapter. They are: a comparative ethnography of an international policy conference on 'Stakeholding' and a number of DSS waiting rooms in the South of England; an interview based analysis of prominent feminist speaking positions in the field of political and cultural commentary on 'underclass'; and a popular cultural cartography of 'underclass' based on two contemporary films. These three case studies are generically diverse but are shown to be connected by relations of power/knowledge in a process of contestation over contemporary notions of welfare. The delineation of new relationships between gender and economy, and between the 'independent' and the 'dependent' (primarily 'non-working' parents, children and long term benefit recipients) is argued to be central to 'underclass' discourse. This thesis shows how the discourse has partly developed through the work of the mainstream political Left on notions of 'Stakeholding' and 'Welfare to Work', and partly through prominent feminist commentaries on poor, working class masculinities and the 'needs' and 'wants' of single mothers. These knowledges are problematised specifically in terms of their class location and contested through both my own and two filmic narratives of working class poverty. In this thesis those narratives are presented as subjugated knowledges of the discourse of 'underclass' which refuse and accuse traditional theories and practices of authoritative knowledge. They are argued to challenge the power-laden binaries of fact and affect, of work and care, of public and private, of the professional and the unqualified; and to suggest a need for the strategic engagement of a socialist-feminist politics that is attuned to the classed and gendered complexities of 'underclass' discourse.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available