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Living and working in urban working class communities

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Much has been written on the apparent urban renaissance in UK cities and the new lifestyle arrangements, working time patterns, economic activities and the more general reordering of work and life that appears to accompany it. Certainly, recent decades have witnessed a range of economic, social and cultural changes in the lives of those living and working in cities and surrounding suburbs. Much of the attention in this work has focused on those groups for whom the changes have appeared most profound: the high-income earners returning to live in the city – the gentrifiers – or those who suffer multiple deprivations as a result of economic restructuring. Seemingly absent from many accounts of urban change are those places where, at first glance, the effects of change have been less pronounced: low-income, working class neighbourhoods where most people continue to get by, albeit in the context of a harsher, and less secure political economic context. In light of this apparent silence, this paper draws on interviews from Wythenshawe in South Manchester, to examine how low-income mothers cope, live and labour, in a rapidly changing city, as they perform paid work at the same time as ensuring the social reproduction of the household.

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