Secure employment and affordable housing: the two most desired goals of many millennials in the UK. Yet so often they are out of reach. Young people consider their own attitudes a key to success, although there is little evidence that a winner’s mentality helps ‘generation rent’ to move into their own homes. Social mobility is proposed as a solution to society’s ills and a way to level the playing field, but too often policies place the responsibility to rise up with the individual and overlook structural challenges.
These are some of the issues that we discuss in this episode with Thomas Rochow, post graduate researcher at the University of Glasgow. Thomas researches young people’s interactions with the welfare system in the UK, and how this interacts with their work, housing and life experiences. He does so using data from the Welfare Conditionality research project, with lots of information on how the push towards greater use of conditions and sanctions in welfare provision has muted people’s outlook on life.
This is the second episode in our series on aspirations. The first episode on this topic explored the potential of aspirations in motivating positive action, and how poverty reduction policies can use this to their advantage but also need to be careful about promoting it as a magic bullet. This second episode zooms in on how context shapes aspirations, and how too much of a focus on personal attitudes drives harmful narratives about why some may not achieve ‘success’.
In the episode, there is reference to the work by Barbara Ehrenreich (mistakenly pronounced as ‘Einrich’), and this especially relates to her book ‘Smile or Die’. Thomas also mentions Tony Chapman and his call for ‘dull outcomes’ when it comes to establishing policies that can really make a difference.