Family and Class in a London Suburb

Family and Class in a London Suburb

Family and Class in a London Suburb

Family and Class in a London Suburb

Excerpt

Bethnal Green and Woodford have never been compared before, and, unless we can persuade other sociologists with different prejudices to repeat our journey across the Hackney Marshes, they probably never will be again. We should explain how they came to be joined. In gathering material for a series of three books on Bethnal Green, . we discovered a village in the middle of London. Established residents claimed to 'know everyone'. They could do so because most people were connected by kinship ties to a network of other families, and through them to a host of friends and acquaintances. Ties of blood and marriage were local ties. When they got married, couples did not usually move more than a few steps to set up a new home. They remained close to their parents, close to their brothers and sisters and close to the street markets near which they had been 'bred and born'.

This was rather different from a popular view of what a modern metropolis is like. Bethnal Green is not so much a crowd of individuals -- restless, lonely, rootless -- as an orderly community based on family and neighbourhood groupings. There is some evidence that the same style of life exists elsewhere in Britain. But the other areas that have been studied are in one important respect like Bethnal Green. They are peopled almost exclusively by manual workers and their families -- in other words, they are 'working-class' districts.

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