There have been significant changes in political social and economic
life in the UK over the last 50 years with particular reference to
identity and the resulting ordering of our lives in terms of family,
work and welfare together with the resulting impact on our health.
Within the themes of structure and agency, uncertainty and diversity
together with knowledge and knowing, this essay explores the
consequences of some of these changes and how they may be beneficial
for some and deletarious for others, depending upon which social
category a person falls into.
One of the consequences of these changes is that we now have greater
agency over what kind of quality of life and life chances we have. To
understand what is happening in the world around us today, Kath
Woodward sites two social scientists, Goldthorpe and Saunders to
illustrate the idea of “instrumentalism”, i.e., working solely for
financial reward. Instrumentalism demonstrates how occupation plays a
much smaller role in the “new” working class sense of identity.
Therefore, this “consumerism” gives us the ability to “label”
ourselves and buy our identity. (Woodward, 2004)
Identity is a social construction; it’s not something we are born
with, it’s something that forms and changes shape over time. Identity
is “something we do” as opposed to “something we are”.
Negotiation, by aligning ourselves with a particular status or party,
is the key to class membership. Action is taken to achieve this, for
example, by studying. The consumerist approach suggests we can buy
identity because we can ...
... middle of paper ...
who are finding it increasingly difficult to receive benefits they are
perhaps entitled to. (Hughes, Fergusson, 2004)
This review has shown that the changes in social, political and
economic life since the 1950s have had a significant impact on the
social life of the citizens of this country.
Woodward, K. (2004) (ed.2) Questioning Identity: gender, class,
ethnicity, London, Routledge/The Open University
Hinchliffe, S. and Woodward, K. (2004) (Ed.2) The Natural and the
Social: Uncertainty, Risk, Change, London, Routledge/The Open
Goldblatt, D. (2004) Knowledge and the Social Sciences: Theory,
Method, Practice, London, Routledge/The Open University
Hughes, G. and Fergusson, R. (2004) (ed. 2) Ordering Lives: Family,
Work and Welfare, London, Routledge/The Open University
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