'Left behind places': unequal social trajectories of progress

Katherine Smith (University of Manchester)
Katherine Smith (University of Manchester)
Gillian Evans (University of Manchester)
Jeanette Edwards (University of Manchester)
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Short abstract:

This panel interrogates the concept of 'left behind' places by exploring ethnographic examples of when the freedom to control one's own conditions of experience is restricted, when it is opened up and how local calls for equality reflect this distinction.

Long abstract:

The concept of 'left behind places', at least, and for example, as deployed currently in the UK in commentary on Brexit, suggests locations, people and experiences that have suffered most from economic decline, cultural isolation and political disengagement. It evokes progress that is not shared equally across economic, social, and political contexts. Inherent in the idea of being 'left behind' is inequity in social trajectories of progress. However, questions remain about the extent to which individuals may affect their social positions, and are responsible to do so. Amartya Sen (1992) argued that individuals willing to give up certain rights for the greater social good, and individuals who have no control over giving up such rights, points towards issues of 'equality'. The ways in which individuals actually enjoy a freedom to choose, rather than the notion that, in principle, they already have the ability to choose the conditions of their existence, involves 'taking note of all the barriers' (1992: 149). This panel interrogates the concept of 'left behind places' by exploring ethnographically barriers to social progress that leave a sense of stuckedness and stagnation amongst groups of people. We aim to open up discussion of what calls for economic, social and political equality look like on local and interpersonal levels. Papers will explore ethnographic moments when the freedom to control one's own conditions of existence are felt to be restricted, as well as moments when they are opened up.