Cohesion in Bradford: disadvantage, solidarity and recession

Funded by: Joseph Rowntree Foundation


January 2010 to November 2010

PSI researchers:

Rosemary Davidson

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

Community cohesion continues to be a contested concept but there is growing consensus around the links between material disadvantage and the quality of community relationships. Those relationships are complex; cutting, for example, across ethnicity, faith, gender, generation, class and institutions. Recession and growing disadvantage potentially worsens community relationships, including via competition over material resources fuelling racialised resentment. Both ordinary people and local and national institutions and policy makers have a contribution to make to identifying solutions.

As part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s ‘Living with change’ programme of work in Bradford, this project seeks to improve understanding of the current and longer term implications of recession in Bradford for community relationships. The research questions include:

  • In what ways is the recession a) bringing communities together to find collective solutions; or b) exacerbating tensions across ethnic religious, generational or other boundaries?
  • What are the views of local people and agencies on the likely longer-term social implications of recession on community relationships in Bradford?
  • What initiatives and policies are in place to support community relationships through recession?
  • How is the Third Sector involved in supporting community relationships and is it being adequately supported?
  • What practical actions and policies could be developed to tackle the longer-term implications of recession in relation to community relationships?

Project Design

The research will deploy a qualitative, iterative research design with an emphasis on bringing people and institutions (within and beyond Bradford) together in dialogue, as follows:

Stage 1 - Key informant interviews will be undertaken with key actors and stakeholders, including the community and voluntary sector and Bradford Council. The main aim will be to explore the local context.

Stage 2 - A one-day community event will involve ordinary residents and community groups in focus groups. The discussions will explore and engage with personal and collective experiences and views of recession, community relationships and social cohesion.

Stage 3 – Following analysis of the focus group data, and identification of key themes, a deliberative workshop will be run discussing those emerging themes. Practical actions and policies will be considered. Representatives from each focus group will join invited stakeholders at the workshop.

Stage 4 - A follow-up half-day feedback seminar will be organised to discuss findings from the previous research stages. Participation will be widened, including key organisations and agencies beyond Bradford. The feedback workshop will therefore facilitate early dissemination of the findings to Bradford Council, other practitioners, policy makers and ordinary residents.

The research will be undertaken by the Policy Studies Institute working in partnership with the BME Third sector organisation Voice4Change England.

Importance of Research

Given strong evidence of the links between deprivation and community relationships, the recession increases the imperative for mapping the commonalities between disadvantaged groups and identifying how positive relationships can be creatively supported in local authority areas and national policy. A process of dialogue between people and institutions in Bradford will be one of the outcomes of the research. A key aim will be the identification of practical measures and evidence-based policy recommendations for community relationships relevant to good and bad economic times.