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Project Overview

This research project was carried out over three years and sought to develop an understanding of:

  • how the experience of households living on low incomes in Britain varies according to space and time
  • the salience of ‘place’ in the perceptions, actions and decisions made by different types of household, in different contexts
  • comparisons and contrasts between the experiences of households in deprived neighbourhoods with divergent geographical, social and economic characteristics, and
  • the implications of households’ experiences and perceptions as captured in the research for the assumptions behind policies designed to tackle deprivation at both the household and neighbourhood level.

This research project has therefore sought to explore the interaction between ‘poverty’ and ‘place’ by focusing on how poverty is experienced and what prompts subsequent action and behaviour, in different geographical settings, and over a specific period of time.

Some of the distinctive characteristics of the programme of research were that:

  • it was based on large-scale, predominantly qualitative research in six locations
  • its geographical focus was primarily at the neighbourhood level and it covered areas in England, Scotland and Wales
  • it involved the use of audio-visual techniques as a core component of the project, and
  • it was undertaken over a three year period, with interviews undertaken on an iterative basis with some respondents in three waves with around one year’s interval between waves 1 and 2 and then waves 2 and 3. 

Six areas were selected as case studies:

  • Amlwch: a small town on the northern tip of Anglesey, which has suffered rapid economic decline in recent years
  • West Kensington: an ethnically mixed area comprising two social housing estates in inner west London
  • Oxgangs: a social housing estate located next to one of the most affluent suburbs in Edinburgh
  • West Marsh: an area of predominantly private housing located close to the centre of Grimsby
  • Wensley Fold: an ethnically and tenure mixed area in Blackburn; and
  • Hillside: a social housing area in Knowsley, Merseyside.

For the case studies three methods were used for primary data collection, though the balance between them varied in different areas:

  • preliminary and in-depth face-to-face interviews with participants
  • solicited participants’ diaries and photo-novella exercises; and
  • participatory art projects.

These methods were selected to provide a different ‘grain’ of research information to build up a narrative of change over the study period.  In addition, researchers spoke to a variety of stakeholders in each case study area, such as community activists and housing officers and regeneration managers.

Written outputs from the research include 12 research papers, two JRF published theme papers and a final report, all of which can be accessed from this website.  In addition, a wealth of audio-visual material has been produced, including a number of films, images and audio commentaries.  A selection of these is provided on this website.

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