Magoosh GRE

Inequalities on HIlltown Main Street

| April 7, 2014

Drawing on what you have learned about City Road, outline some of the inequalities on a street that you know.

Hilltown’s Main Street is typical of a small town, and is where most of the towns businesses are situated.  Consisting of six bars, three hairdressers, and three take-aways with only two grocery stores and a small butchers shop, it is perhaps a reflection on how contemporary society’s consumption has shaped this street.  Some of the key issues I wish to discuss are the structure of the street, traffic flow, parking, disability access and some local businesses.

The main part of the street is built around the joining of three T-junctions, in the centre is a large parking area called ‘The Square’.  With traffic coming in five directions the only means of traffic control are two islands to try and make crossing the road easier.  Cars using the street as just a through-road generally win the competition for use of space, as they have priority, with little to stop them.  This is in comparison to the drivers trying to join the main flow of traffic from the three roads that form the T-Junctions, who lose out with long waits, like the pedestrians trying to cross.

It is on this end of the street that the bigger more successful businesses are situated and the main reason seems to be the ease of access due to plentiful parking and good footpaths.  The other half of the street is on a steep hill full of drainage shunts, uneven pavements and high kerbs into every entrance. This means that access is very restricted for those with children in prams or those with limited mobility.  Those who can access it easily are residents of nearby houses and the able bodied pedestrians.  Due to the limited parking on this half of the street, drivers find it difficult to access these businesses.  Therefore they are smaller and lose out because they have a limited consumer base.

The ratio of premises offering non-essential commodities compared to essential is almost 3:1.   This is a reflection of Zygmunt Bauman’s (1988), theory of the seduced and the repressed.  The hairdressers, for example, draw in clients on a daily basis. Some choose to return weekly in order to try and effectively consume a service which allows them to maintain an image they deem socially acceptable.  Bauman would refer to these as the seduced.  Those with limited means however, cannot participate in this form of consumption – the elderly on limited pensions, the unemployed and the younger generations for example.  These are seen as the repressed.

Bars are not a new commodity to the Main Street, some dating as far back as the 18th century, they are however maintained by the current consumer demand.  Most of them have modernised, in particularly Minnie’s where the 20 something’s like to socialise.  It is because of this reputation that a lot of the older generations feel excluded.  The loud music and pool tables appeal more to the young employed people who aspire to a strong identity and social acceptance within the bar.  Lowry’s however is known locally as the working man’s bar, a bar which, before the smoking ban, smelt of cigar smoke, and even had a ‘men’s room’ where the men would gather and talk undisturbed around an open fire.  Like the Men’s Municipal Club on City Road Cardiff (Visual Material), perhaps Lowry’s hangs on to an imagined past leaving the men with a wonderful sense of belonging but which means that women, young people and new members often see it as a that is quite exclusive to its recognised clientele.  The Hotel caters for the middle aged consumers, again because of reputation.  Here teenagers and young people feel this is not the image they wish to be associated with.

No matter what happens in Main Street; from navigating the junctions, to socialising, to consumers having their hair done there are inclusions and exclusions.  Whether one has a large surplus income or lesser means, the winners and losers in consumption are not always obvious, but there are always divisions and inequalities to be seen. Whilst the traffic inequalities cannot be resolved without great expense (e.g. traffic lights…), people have learned to work around this.  Inequalities are not negative when the street is viewed as a whole.  When people feel excluded from one establishment they are generally included in another i.e. Lowry’s, Minnie’s and the hotel all have a specific and different custom.  However the issue of disability access to the lower half of Main Street may not be resolved any time soon.  It is because of situations like this that there will always be a percentage that are repressed and excluded from our society.

 

References

Text Making Social Lives Textbook Page25

Visual Social Sciences DVD

Tags: ,

Category: Free Essays, Social Science