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What do you consider to be the main causes of social conflict in Britain's cities in the last ten years?

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Introduction

MA Town Planning Year 1 Urban Society Essay 1 What do you consider to be the main causes of social conflict in Britain's cities in the last ten years? Stephenie Thourgood What do you consider to be the main causes of social conflict in Britain's Cities in the last ten years? This essay aims to introduce types of social conflict that prevail in today's society and identify possible causes to the social conflict that has occurred in British cities within the last decade. Social conflict is the struggle between individuals or groups of people within a society that have opposing beliefs/ interests to other groups. From these struggles, tensions are produced and are expressed in a variety of ways often through anti-social behaviour such as theft, drugs, riots, attacks, demonstrations, strikes, hooliganism and vandalism. The main focus of this paper will be the causes behind the riots in British cities in the last ten years, as riots are a form of social conflict easier to measure than the other forms; Riots occur sporadically and last for a certain duration. Crime for example is an ongoing process in all areas of the country. The essay will conclude by suggesting changes to be made to reduce social conflict in Britain. Britain has a history of city riots that were probably most prominent in the 1980's in areas such as Brixton and Manchester. There have been thirteen recorded riots between 1991 and 1992 where the police temporarily lost control over the violence. All of the riots occurred in council estates on the periphery of London in low-income areas with long standing socio-economic problems. Unemployment levels were far above the national average. The participants were predominantly young white British males aged between 10 and 30 years old. There tended to be a high concentration of young people, in some areas over half of the residents were under 24 years of age (Power, A 1997.ppix). ...read more.

Middle

The Government created massive programmes that entailed investing money to improve housing, transport and urban renewal. An estate based housing office, a tenants association, health projects, community development trusts, policing projects are examples of the types of programmes initiated. They aimed to improve the immediate vicinity of the poorer estates, but the programmes had a short-term impact. It is true that the projects improved the quality of life for the residents, but nothing was done to increase education or job prospects. The government provided the estates with no means to continually support themselves and sustain their improved lifestyle. After time the services became run down again and the unemployed resident is still poor and frustrated. Government resources were scarce as they tried to divide the budget between all the different needs of the sub-communities within the community (Hogget, P 1997). "The cost of growing dependency by community organisations on such programmes in any areas became apparent....community groups often found themselves in a struggle for scarce resources...which exacerbated existing lines of tension between communities of difference" ( Hoggett, P 1997 pp10). Residents were previously not involved in the decision-making process on how funding was to be spent; they had no control over what was done in their community space. Had they been consulted they would probably have opted for a scheme that aimed to obtain businesses reinvestment in the area. "Most externally funded programmes were driven by outside constraints and did very little to change the prospects for young men or their stake in what happened" (Power, A etal 1997. ppx). Social aspects are considered to cause social conflict. All of the aforementioned reasons for social conflict lead to an accumulation of pressure upon a family. Home is perceived as a haven where people can take shelter from society, if the home is of poor quality and overcrowded with family breakdown there is no escape for those residing there; they are constantly faced with their deprivation and problems (Dickens, P, 1990). ...read more.

Conclusion

There are however, some more deprived areas where rioting has never occurred. This may be because there is stronger police control, or the age of the population may be evenly dispersed. All the areas that witnessed riots had large groups of young unemployed males living in a similar deprived geographical location (Crowther, C 1997). These men are "more vulnerable to group solidarity with other, similarly excluded, vulnerable, disorientated and poorly prepared young men" (Power, A etal, 1997.pp51) These men were socially excluded and so rioted to release aggression, to be noticed, and to attempt to break the vicious circle they were born into. Riots are perceived by many as the 'revenge of the socially excluded' (Crowther, C. 1997). Riots can produce results. The people involved in the riots are very rarely reprimanded for their actions, instead more money and programmes are set up to improve the infrastructure, services and support. Positive action needs to be taken in order to prevent further outbreaks. For a stable future young people should be taught that there are other non-violent ways to voice their opinions and recognise that an interest in their education can lead to better job prospects. A population mix should be generated in order to diversify the types of people living together. Activities within the community to relieve boredom and give people a shared interest should be initiated. Improved support should be given to parents and families and to community development groups. These ideas should be taken into account when planning future housing development and regeneration (Power, A etal, 1997). It is also argued that planning decisions from the past have contributed to the racial tensions and exclusion of certain groups by creating 'ghetto' type areas through the housing policies (Solomos, J 1993). There are many aspects as discussed previously that when integrated lead to social conflict; the major cause being the long term exclusion and deprivation that the so-called 'underclass' are made to suffer. They endeavour to change their situation but with so many limitations upon them, they are rarely successful other than through rioting. Multiple deprivation has dangerous consequences. ...read more.

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