Liquid modernity as an analytical framework: a study of isolated northern towns

BRIGHT, Janis Blackmore (2010). Liquid modernity as an analytical framework: a study of isolated northern towns. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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To live in an isolated town in recent years has been to experience contradictions. The quality of life in such towns can be high, and their popularity is shown by often strong in-migration. But this can co-exist with low wages, a ‘hollowed out’ and ageing population, high house prices and deprivation. This study examines the situation of isolated towns in the North of England. It seeks to fill a ‘gap’ in knowledge concerning such towns, which are an underresearched academic area. It contends that the towns have been subjected to competitive forces without the tempering social action that other areas attract. The thesis uses Zygmunt Bauman’s liquid modernity concept to examine the case of selected towns in the context of New Labour’s ‘third way’ politics. It focuses on the towns’ governance authorities and their relationship to regional and central government. Housing and prestige projects are used as exemplars. Bauman contends that we have moved into a new phase of postmodern capitalism in which the ‘winners’, whom he calls tourists, dominate by controlling time. The ‘losers’ – vagabonds – are trapped in the old paradigm of space, meaning location and distance. In a world of globalisation and opportunity taking, the vagabonds must act as consumers but the choices they make are futile. An interpretative approach with semi-structured interviews and three case studies is applied. The findings offer significant insights into the recent experience of town authorities. The conditions of liquid modernity and the competitive political ethos are found to be significant driving forces for respondents. Geographical isolation is significant, but is also interpreted as a social construct in which isolated towns are characterised as ‘far away’. Analysis using the tourist and vagabond ideal types is extended to apply collectively to the town authorities, revealing unequal relationships of power. The study seeks to establish a conceptual location for town authorities within liquid modernity, and offers developments to Bauman’s concept in terms of methodology, typologies and analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Hickman, Paul [0000-0002-3062-0003]
Thesis advisor - Hall, Stephen
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sheffield Hallam University
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2012 11:36
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:05

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