There has been something of a storm about the Last Whites of the East End show on BBC. Staying clear of the argument about racism, my own observation is that in an individualistic era, the solidarity that made poor folk able to overcome their lack of resources is a thing of the past. In my own childhood, we all lived – brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles – within a few yards of each other. Most of my classmates lived within walking distance of the school.
The advantage was a form of intimacy in the neighbourhood that is lacking today. We knew each other’s business. The same thing was also a disadvantage at times. We knew too much about each other and were quick to judge based upon gossip and generalisation. I really don’t know which is best homogeneity or variety? Surely it cannot be easy to teach a class where 40 languages are spoken? But many teachers do just that.
Connecting this to my recent posts about inequality, there is no doubt that a homogenous society found it easier to band together to combat adversity than one where barriers of culture and language make it difficult to exchange ideas and reach agreements.