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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Wednesday, March 31, 2004
    Deviance amplification
     
    A problem with Liverpool's image is its long history of deviance amplification. In other words as we well know it's long been represented as an ugly, crime-ridden place. With some justification but by no means entirely fairly. I'm reading a rather dry tome (albeit with a great cover), Ronaldo Munck (ed): Re-inventing the City?: Liverpool in Comparative Perspective, and I'm encouraged that it goes a little way to counteracting deviance amplification in academia.

    It's not another of the many, many studies which focus on the city's social problems and perennial regeneration schemes; instead it invites writers of many disciplines to take a wider view of the city, looking at where it sits globally (neither 'global' nor 'postmodern' so outside the narrow boundaries of most urban theory), studying its culture, economics and sociology with eyes open, and - especially good, this - giving the closing chapters over to local people, young and old, and their perspectives on the place and its future.

    Muenck generously gives over the last paragraph of his introduction to some of these. He sets out to challenge the perception that 'disorderly places' breed 'disorderly people', a perception which has bred 'a whole underclass industry' examining urban ghettos, Third World shanty-towns or inner-city estates 'through what Edward Said has referred to as the new 'urban orientalism', an exoticising of the Other.'
      In fact, the attitudes of the young people ... were remarkably 'ordinary' for people living in an area where one-third of the working population were unemployed:

      "They think we are all dead common and rough. They say don't come here because they rob your car ... If they go to places where they hire stuff they won't let you ... People think we are all druggies ..."

      "I want to get a good job really and just be happy. I don't want to be on the dole."

      "If they did up all the houses, yeah, make it look pretty ... people aren't afraid of pretty things ..."
    I've been reading this book while listening to my new cd. Playing Squarepusher loud, I guess you could say, is a very particular form of amplification deviance.