Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Gilding the Ghetto

This post is all about a publication called Gilding the Ghetto that came out in 1977. It is something of a classic in the urban/social policy literature because of when it was written, who it was written by, and what is in it. It's also quite difficult to track down and even harder to get hold of a copy of your own (there are no more 85p copies available from The Home Office Urban Deprivation Unit!).

Since I'm currently writing about policy interventions in urban areas in the UK and elsewhere, I couldn't really overlook it; in fact, I've become quite taken with it. The report tries to make sense of urban interventions from the late 1960s to 1976 by looking mainly at the Community Development Projects (CDP) of which there were twelve, throughout Great Britain. The tone of the document is very critical but it does get to the root of the problem in many places and resonates with interventions in operation today...

"Their brief rested on three important assumptions. Firstly, that it was the 'deprived' themselves who were the cause of 'urban deprivation'. Secondly, the problem could best be solved by overcoming these people's apathy and promoting self-help. Thirdly, locally-based research into the problems would serve to bring about changes in local and central government policy." (p. 4)

Perhaps the balance between critique and solutions/recommendations could have been better, but overall this is a must-see piece of work for people working in this area. The section on 'Social pathology' on page 54 is particularly relevant in relation to how the problem is conceptualised at a national and local level.

Finally, I've scanned the front and back covers. If you click on them you will see them close to real size.