This essay will provide examples of inequalities and differences using information from City Road (The Open University, 2014) and the observations I have made which are similar on my street and how they affect society. Class, age, wealth, education, disability and even sexuality are seen as differences among those who lack access to these resources and therefore experience inequalities.
Inequality is when a person is unable to do the same as someone else due to barriers. As seen in Connecting Lives (The Open University, 2014a) the inequalities that Stephen Sweetman (who uses a wheelchair) endures are due to the design of the built environment and due to this I see the physical exclusion this has on his life. One of the main issues on my street is most shop entrances have steps. This makes it inaccessible for people who have a disability and these impact their choices and their access to resources.
The recent location change to our Bus Station which use to be located in the town centre where easy access to the high street and all the shops was quick and virtually obstacle free, now it has been moved outside the high street and to get to the main shops you now have to walk along way and it is harder on the elderly, disabled and families with young children in pushchairs. The new location is a lot smaller but has the same volume of people using the area, currently the pathway is being used as a waiting area bringing disorder and people’s safety is at risk the pathway is crowded and you have to walk in the road to get by. Local councils can help to ensure differences do not develop in to inequalities by clearing rubbish frequently and making sure the streets are clean from things like dog mess, chewing gum and that the street lights are maintained and bollards, signage and road markings are visible.
John Arthur’s story The Life and Times of the Street: Part 1 [Video], (The Open University, 2014a) is another clear example of inequalities and differences on City Road. He is a homeless person but his life experiences connect with other people in similar circumstances. Looking at these connections I see patterns of inequalities and differences but also on a wider scale within the homeless, unemployed and people on a low wage in British society. On my street homeless people are often seen in doorways, sleeping rough, begging for money or food. What, how and why have their individual experiences led them to live their lives this way and make them feel excluded from society? The Mackintosh Centre, The Life and Times of the Street: Part 1 (The Open University, 2014a) explains that the sports centre is perceived by some local people as an exclusive place and they know its history, how it was transformed from the home of a wealthy landowner to a community sports centre.
However the stigma of the wealth surrounded by the history of the building and the financial inequality barrier has lead to people assuming they would not be welcome. Changes in individual circumstances can lead to variations in differences which also affect how they see themselves within the society. The Food Bank (The Open University, 2014a) offers people help while they have financial misfortune. The people that use the food bank do so out of necessity and do not have a choice in the food they are given. This is in great contrast to the people who go to the supermarkets or the farmers’ markets and choose what they like. City Road has many different businesses and over time as on my street these businesses have changed making and remaking the street introducing different ethnic groups.
One building on my street was once a bank, now it is run as an American themed restaurant and sells food and beverages based on America. Their clientele who frequent this establishment do so as a choice, whereas people who are less fortunate and have limited or no income have to use food banks. This essay has covered Differences and Inequalities on City Road (The Open University, 2014) and how these are comparable or diverse to my street. I have found patterns in social life regarding individual stories and how people’s life experiences change how they perceive their belonging to the street. I have looked at Inequalities and how the order and disorder on the street can influence how people go about their everyday lives.
Blakeley, G. and Staples, M. (2014) ‘The life and times of the street’, in Allen, J. and Blakeley, G. (eds) (2014) Understanding Social Lives, Part 1,
Milton Keynes: The Open University. The Open University (2014a) ‘The Life and Times of the street: Part 1’ [Video], DD102 Introducing the social sciences. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/veiw.php?id=443760§ion=2.3 (Accessed 4 November 2014). The Open University (2014a) ‘Inequalities on the street’: Part 2’ [Video], DD102 Introducing the social sciences. Available at https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/veiw.php?id=443760§ion=2.2 (Accessed 4 November 2014).