A shared ‘somatic crisis’:[i] enough common ground?

A shorter version of this paper was presented at the INTAR (International Network Toward Alternatives and Recovery) international conference, University of Liverpool, UK (25-27 06 2014), Power to Communities: Healing Through Social Justice, on Day 1 (25 06 2014).

  • The ‘disappearing’ of gender as structural dis/advantage
  • The impact of feminist methodology and women’s peer process
  • Power, politics and casualties: gender, mental health and academic practice
  • Neoliberal fallout
  • A necessary chorus of dissent and co-creativity.

In response to the publication of Thomas Piketty’s latest book,[ii] Sean Baine, Chair of the Equality Trust writes:

Evidence of the devastating social and economic consequences of inequality has been growing for years. What we now need is for the corridors of power to take the issue of inequality much more seriously. As such, the Equality Trust is calling on all political parties to adopt our inequality test – an explicit commitment in their manifestos that the net impact of their policies will be to reduce the gap between the richest and the rest.[iii] Emphasis added.

Other Guardian letters on the same day refer to: “the problem of rising inequality and declining social mobility”; the ethical assumptions involved in economics (as suggested previously by Ha-Joon Chang,[iv] as well as “psychological expressions of differing beliefs about what constitutes human nature (sic)”; and one letter writer declares that “Equality is not the ‘natural’ state of man (sic); inequality is the persistent state of man (sic)”.

“Inequality”, “social mobility”, human nature”, “man” – my feminist heart sinks, my brain boils.

The ‘disappearing’ of gender as structural dis/advantage.
’The Spirit Level[v] evidence on inequality is encouraging many men on the Left (academics, politicians, journalists, activists) to define inequality as economic disadvantage or poverty.[vi] This position has historical and theoretical roots in C19 Marxism. In 2014, however, this stance can be seen to ‘disappear’ structural disadvantage consequent upon power differentials rooted in racism, homophobia and misogyny, which are patently not explained by social class and/or poverty.[vii]

In the public domain, masculinity and male identity are too often glossed within/by aggregated data and ‘generic’ media reporting, for example in relation to knife crime,[viii] drug-related gun crime,[ix] criminalization, incarceration, social conflict, ‘riots’, terrorism and war.[x] ‘People’, ‘spectators’, ‘demonstrators’, ‘hooligans’, ’criminals’, ‘terrorists’, are actually labels used to report on men’s behaviour and actions (usually in all-male groups, crowds, gangs), on the street, in other public spaces, and in organisational or institutional settings. [xi]

This gender-neutral language leaves the evidential role of gender un(re)marked. This removes gender and masculinity from scrutiny, understanding and critique; and by extension from intellectual (e.g. sociological) and political analysis. This is the default position: normative practice across most of the media, politics, and other areas of professional and business practice, including much academic practice.[xii]

The position of academia as part of this ‘consensus’ is significant, as the prevailing culture provides more than the backdrop to mental health discourses and practices, not least because it both straddles and attempts to theorise the boundary between academia and society; between academics, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, social workers, other health practitioners and specialists, as well as service users in the mental health field. It attempts to constitute as well as critique what is complex and contentious, as lived experience, not simply abstractions or speculation. There are apparent and hidden elements of power struggle in these relations, which can have material consequences for clients (a point I will return to).

It is therefore not surprising that there is evidence of cognitive and intellectual continuity with aspects of these wider social and cultural contexts, pressures and practices in recent descriptions and analysis of psychological and social approaches to ‘psychosis’, even as critical and oppositional discourses and practices promote their academic credibility and professional status (while – like aging rock stars? – practitioners simultaneously hold on to their ‘radical’ / alternative / anti-authoritarian identity).

Causes of depression are listed as:

  • family, relationship, loss, isolation, childhood and work.[xiii]
  • psycho-social factors include “unusual or traumatic experiences” and “childhood adversity”.[xiv]

“Stressors” are identified as:

  • “major unpleasant emotional experiences” (USA 1987)
  • “family conflicts”
  • “unusual or traumatic experiences” (London)
  • “psychosocial stress” (West Germany and East Germany)
  • “problems in interpersonal relationships” (Japan)
  • “childhood events” (East London)
  • and “psychological traumas” (Italy).[xv]
  • “Childhood adversities are associated with maladaptive functioning, such as parental illness, child abuse and neglect”.[xvi]
  • “The causal role of childhood adversity” is highlighted,[xvii] as is “childhood trauma”.[xviii]

This is gender-neutral language that serves to mask the realities of girls’ and women’s lives and the impact of those lives on their mental health and wellbeing. Even when “belonging to a disempowered group”[xix] is mentioned as a factor, it is linked to poverty and racism, with no mention of gender and the positioning of girls and women. And the generic term “social causation”[xx] gives no indication it might encompass gender issues or racism. Gender differences may be mentioned as ignored, but there is no gender analysis; the issue of gender / gender power relations is not simply a matter of noting / assuming gender differences. Highlighting the putative role of life experience “in shaping brain structure and function” produces another list:

  • “including attachment relationships
  • varieties of trauma and adverse social experience
  • social isolation and defeat
  • poverty and urban living”.[xxi]

Whether mainstream or specialist, language such as victim, survivor, criminal, patient, spectator, demonstrator, skiver, perpetrator, people; abuse, childhood adversity, social disadvantage, trauma and power, is gender-neutral, and needs contextualizing to serve women, rather than rendering us invisible within its discourses.[xxii]

The impact of feminist methodology and women’s peer process.
By contrast with these generic discourses, the executive summary of the Women’s National Commission report in 2010, on the health aspects of violence against women and girls, states:

 Since 2003 the Department of Health (DG) has acknowledged that women’s experiences of     domestic violence and other forms of abuse are linked to long-term mental illness (sic) and with      physical and sexual health problems.[xxiii] In 2007, the cross-governmental sexual violence action          plan recognized that the impact of recent and historic sexual abuse includes anxiety and panic    attacks; depression; problematic substance use; eating disorders; post traumatic stress; self harm   and suicide.[xxiv]

Here, mental health issues are explicitly linked to women’s lives and experience of sexual violence and abuse, and ‘symptoms’ are understood as consequences of those experiences.[xxv]

In 2014, 11 years after the Department of Health statement, 7 years after the cross-governmental sexual violence action plan, and 4 years after the publication of both the Women’s National Commission’s A Bitter Pill To Swallow and Southall Black Sisters’ Safe and Sane document, Liverpool’s What Women Want Group set up a Task & Finish Group to produce an evidence-based report, with recommendations for local, voluntary and statutory mental health services, based on national research findings and local women’s experiences of domestic abuse and use of mental health services”.[xxvi] It was produced via a peer group process that brought together women from different backgrounds, with various combinations of relevant experience and expertise (as service providers, service users, researchers, academics, activists, etc.). Findings include:

  • Women described various forms of psychological, emotional, financial, sexual and physical control used by partners to subordinate, threaten and isolate them.
  • Psychological control and emotional abuse were experienced as the worst aspects of the abusive relationship, with the lasting psychological impact of that abuse being a loss of identity, confidence and self esteem, anxiety, depression, social isolation, eating problems, harmful use of alcohol and substances, self-harm and suicidal ideation.[xxvii]

These experiences could be seen to fall within several of the categories already mentioned, such as:

  • major unpleasant emotional experience
  • family conflict
  • traumatic experience
  • psychological trauma
  • psychosocial stress.

Or these four psychosocial causal beliefs:

  • problems from childhood
  • day-to-day problems
  • death of someone close
  • traumatic event.[xxviii]

These summative categories demonstrate the significance of the questions researchers or practitioners actually ask; i.e. the categories their questionnaires and/or focus groups implicitly construct, and by default, the experiences they exclude, suppress or marginalise.

By contrast, Liverpool’s Domestic Violence and Mental Health report, is explicitly rooted in the lives and experiences of actual women, and acknowledges at the outset that gender-based violence against women, such as partner abuse (the most prevalent form of abuse) has its roots in unequal power relations between women and men.[xxix] While vital to the development of functional and empowering processes for both service users and service providers, this stand nonetheless understates the significance of the nature and role of heterosexism, homophobia and misogyny in societies, and within women’s relations with conventional / traditional heterosexual men and their own families.[xxx]

Women’s experience of domestic abuse irrefutably re-iterates the significance of a predatory, unequal heterosexual relationship, in which the woman is subordinated, controlled, coerced and isolated, and by extension, exploited, violated and terrorised. This is not every woman’s experience, but it is too common, too widespread, and apparently spreading. The impact of “conservative attitudes and value systems which justify violence against women and are unsympathetic towards mental illness generally” and the pressure to conform to “traditional gender roles as good and dutiful wives, sisters, mothers, daughters and daughters-in-law” are still significant, and explicitly inform and frame the interventionist work of Southall Black Sisters, for example.[xxxi]

Research over three decades consistently found that Asian women, particularly those aged 15-34,     are up to three times more likely to kill themselves than women in the general population.[xxxii]

SBS counsellor, Shahrukh Husain, has developed a new ‘hybrid’ model of psychotherapy that “combines established humanistic, cognitive-behaviourist and psychodynamic therapies in a fluid way. . . using when necessary, some directional elements drawn from Life Coaching”.[xxxiii] SBS have found this model effective in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and recommend that domestic violence as experienced by BME women should be added to the DSM-IV-TR diagnostic criteria for PTSD, either as a sub category within the Battered Women’s Syndrome (sic) or in a category of its own, “so that the impact of religious and cultural pressures such as notions of ‘shame’ and ‘honour’, and of racism, are taken into account.[xxxiv]

The Southall Black Sisters (SBS) model provides holistic specialist services for abused BME women by combining advice, advocacy and support services with counselling and psychotherapy. “It helps prevent the medicalisation or over-medication of BME women by recognizing and eradicating or reducing the social causes of their mental health problems.”[xxxv]

Women’s focus group testimony forms the powerful heart of the Liverpool report, and “the direct, causal connection between the abuse they had experienced and their symptoms of mental distress was a strong, recurring theme throughout the discussions.[xxxvi]

But women report that many health practitioners, including GPs (women or men), ignored, negated, minimised or played down the impact of abuse, referring, for example, to “relationship problems”. As one woman commented: “I do not have ‘relationship problems’. I am not in a relationship. It was domestic abuse.”[xxxvii] Too often, ”GPs, even when made aware of domestic abuse, did not offer support other than medication.”[xxxviii] This suggests a level of denial rooted in ignorance and bordering on contempt, which in turn, I suggest, implicates heterosexist and misogynist values and attitudes.

The problem evidently goes deep. There is alarming testimony in all three of these reports about women’s experiences at the hands of mental health practitioners, in particular GPs and psychiatrists:

  • their lack of understanding of gender issues, domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women, and the social causes of women’s distress
  • the emphasis on medication
  • unhelpful and judgemental attitudes.[xxxix]
  • “And psychiatrists are always men.”[xl]

The women in the [Liverpool] focus groups spoke of:

  • not being listened to or believed by family courts, police, social services and health professionals.[xli]
  • Above all, services did not ask the question about domestic abuse. And as one woman commented: “It’s not something you bring up without the question being asked.”[xlii]
  • Another woman reflected: “We have all (here) experienced horrendous things. My personal experience is that I had to be raped for the relevant agencies to kick in.”[xliii]
  • And only 2 out of 42 of the women we engaged with had been given information about or directly referred to a specialist domestic abuse support service by a health professional.[xliv]

The disconnect between services and different health practitioners, perhaps reflecting power differentials and unhelpful power relations and status conflicts, clearly presents obstacles to responsive and effective support and care. It seems to reflect, not just a lack of professional contact, co-ordination and mutual respect, but the gender ignorance / prejudice noted at the beginning of this paper: internalized sexism, and the fruits of a society increasingly saturated with pornographic, heterosexist and misogynist values and assumptions, which constitute not just disadvantage or inequality for girls and women, but real and (ever) present danger. A stifling, not just of opportunities, but of being and breathing.

As women’s activism and feminist theory have confirmed over the years, ‘context constantly threatens to make emotional and behavioural problems intelligible’:[xlv] thereby open to critical scrutiny and political engagement.[xlvi] The three reports drawn on here were all produced by mixed teams of women variously working in the field of women’s mental health. The WNC Report recommends support for women via “empowerment towards recovery” (rather than medicalization and medication), and that:

Mental health professionals should be required to be trained in the social model of mental ill-               health and in women’s mental health needs, using the experience from specialist violence against      women services to inform its development and delivery.[xlvii]

Southall Black Sisters stress the importance of:

  • minimum standards, guidance and compulsory training (being) developed by the NHS and other health and social care bodies in consultation with specialist, secular BME women’s organisations
  • the implementation of policies and practices which meet human rights standards, such as those required by CEDAW, within the health and social care services”[xlviii]
  • and the importance of “culturally competent” staff, capable of addressing issues of gender as well as race inequality.[xlix]

This last point clarifies how a social model of mental health in a diverse society that prioritises respect for difference, attention to social justice issues and a human rights framework,[l] requires health practitioners with a multi-disciplinary background, together with relevant expertise by experience. In 2014, social, cultural and political awareness and sensitivity are professionally vital.

These 30+ neoliberal years, with their heterosexist, hyper-sexualised, consumerist, competitive and violent culture, have rendered girls and women more vulnerable in both the private and the public domains, as media and business have intensified and exploited gender differences and divisions for power and profit. A recent product of this culture, British-born American student, Elliot Rodger, went on You Tube and “raged that he was a virgin and would exact vengeance.”[li]

I don’t know why you girls haven’t been attracted to me, but I will punish you, for it is an injustice.       I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am the superior one, the           true alpha male.[lii]

This case will stir up old debates about male perpetrators as “mad” or “bad”. The ‘lone male’ boast of misogyny as justification for premeditated femicide is a reminder that:

There is no such thing as a lone misogynist. They are created by our culture, and by communities          that tell men that their hatred is both commonplace and justified.[liii]

But perhaps in 2014 this debate is better served by the greater prominence of feminist commentators and activists of all ages, particularly in the wake of the virulent misogynist attacks on women in the public domain in the UK in 2012/13/14, such as academic Mary Beard, MP Stella Creasey and feminist campaigner and journalist, Caroline Criado-Perez, and the continuing stream of historic abuse cases going through the UK courts since the death of Jimmy Savile.[liv]

If VAWG (including domestic abuse, partner abuse, and rape) is now the single most significant social determinant / causal factor for women’s mental distress, psychological chaos and ill health, should we not expect it to be more prominent in contemporary mental health discourses and practices? More embedded within current critiques and theories. Less marginalized.

Power, politics and casualties: gender, mental health and academic practice.
Mental health critique of the medical model recognises that service users are not just bodies, to be done to, in a process that amounts to objectification and commodification. Yet, as has been shown above, the problematic nature of the generic language and assumptions of psychosocial discourses and the testimony of women survivors of abuse / service users, as well as women service providers, suggest there remain serious, largely unacknowledged, gender issues within the profession that serve to compromise progressive mental health philosophy and practice.[lv]

The declared “focus on recovery not pathology”,[lvi] and on “a human rights and social model”[lvii] is welcome, but needs to demonstrate awareness of and action on the gender issues raised by women’s concerns and evidence, as well as critical self reflexivity regarding structural issues attendant on the profession’s current and longstanding demographic: its gender imbalance and the consequences of this for appropriate, good service provision for girls and women clients.

I return to a question I asked 10 years ago of a plenary speaker at a mental health conference, an ‘innovative’ psychiatrist running a mixed residential mental health service: “Given that we know that the biggest factor in women’s mental ill health derives from their negative (and abusive) experiences within heterosexual relationships, involving power and control, how could their recovery be effected within a mixed ward or environment?” [lviii] He observed, with a smile, that it was a very good question, but that he “pre-dated political correctness”. He declined to respond, and handed over to two service users / residents he had brought with him.

In the intervening years, women’s specialist, women-only services have established their expertise and effectiveness in the field of women’s mental health.[lix] These projects emerged from the culture created by women’s activism from the 1970s: and they were grassroots, feminist-inspired and community-based. The result in 2014, is a sort of parallel universe with regard to mental health service provision: male (overwhelmingly white?) psychiatrists on the one hand, and diverse (in terms of age, ethnicity, social class, sexual preference, for example) women activist practitioners on the other. This separation and disconnect comes through in the testimony of women victims and survivors.

The only reason I’m still alive is because I got out of the mental health system. It is a dangerous             place for abused women to be. (FGN)[lx] Emphasis added.

If you complain or ask to see a woman they write on your notes ‘aggressive non-compliant        patient!’ You learn as a kid to shut up and not complain and you’re treated the same by the NHS.   (FGN) [lxi] Emphasis added.

Psychiatry does nothing but harm women who have been abused in a profession where they are              supposed to alleviate distress. In my experience, they have no understanding of violence against     women, of child sexual abuse, and of the impact this has on women. (FGN)[lxii] Emphasis added.

I think psychiatry today is an essentially patriarchal institution that reproduces situations of lack of     dignity and powerlessness contained in the original abuse. (FGN)[lxiii] Emphasis added.

And, as in society at large, older women[lxiv] and disabled women[lxv] can find themselves particularly disadvantaged and ill served by mental health services and practitioners. The misogyny and ageism encountered in society are too often intensified away from the public gaze, within institutional settings meant to support and assist recovery.[lxvi]

I just can’t believe the things that I just was not taught. As a qualified nurse the social model of             disability was never even mentioned in my training. (FGK)[lxvii]

Is this also a hierarchy? Salaried professionals on secure contracts v the insecure and uncertain funding of women-only services over these many years, despite the specialist services proving their value to their client group: women damaged and derailed by their relationships with traditional heterosexual men. The material conditions of their lives, supposedly central to the social model of mental health.

Asking a woman client, ”What has happened to you?” serves to expand the category of trauma beyond the gender-neutral lists cited earlier. Girls’ and women’s trauma-induced distress, disintegration and psychological chaos are gender issues, feminist issues. Trauma-informed service provision and trauma-sensitive therapeutic practices are necessarily feminist practices, tailored to girls’ and women’s needs and aspirations. Depression and anxiety, for example, are not attributed the status of first causes, but consequences.[lxviii]

For conventional male academics, politicians and psychiatrists (i.e. the majority), the basic fact of the role of VAWG for women’s mental health is presumably indigestible, because it implicates them as (heterosexual) men. It muddies, even threatens to undermine, their professional status. Ignorance and resistance is still deep rooted and widespread, for example amongst male police officers, GPs, psychiatrists and judges: in some cases a woman has to be dead before agencies take notice, and are willing to consider the man as perpetrator, a risk to a woman or child’s life.[lxix] The charisma of being another heterosexual man seems to act like a built-in protection. But the heterosexual frame can also make women service providers complicit with this resistance and denial. They too have a vested interest in seeing all heterosexual men as basically good guys. But, as feminist blogger, Melissa McEwan tweeted:

Dismissing violent misogynists as “crazy” is a neat way of saying that violent misogyny is an   individual problem, not a cultural one.[lxx]

For male practitioners, confronting the issue of VAWG and misogyny as at the core of women’s mental distress and psychological disarray, could dilute their professional credentials, purpose and capabilities, rendering them less powerful, even unemployable. After all, within this gendered dyad, with his masculinity a potential disadvantage, what possible roles and relational possibilities are open to (or to be avoided by) the conventional, male mental health practitioner (Counsellor? Mentor? Father figure? ‘Romantic’ interest? Predator?). All of these ‘positions’ echo the heterosexist relationship at the root of the girl, woman or trans person’s [lxxi] dis-ease / mental health crisis after sexual violence and/or domestic abuse. It is likely to be experienced (on both sides?) as an unsustainable, ‘inappropriate’ relationship, with scant therapeutic value. And the Nursing and Midwifery Council are likely to be less forgiving than the Liberal Democrat Party.[lxxii]

At the same time, some mental health practitioners already feel the heat of service-led movements for change, which they fear could derail their professional identity and status, as this psychiatrist’s outburst reveals:

 “I get sick and tired of being attacked all the time – from clients, families, professionals. So you              would get rid of all psychiatrists would you?”[lxxiii]

In these circumstances, to be asked to critically reflect on the nature and consequences of their own masculinity and sexual identity for their professional practice could presumably be a ‘last straw’, triggering identity crisis. Like academics, in the wake of years of neoliberal advances and their impact on the university sector (less secure contracts, erosion of tenure, increasing uncertainty around career paths, increasingly unsustainable workloads, and authoritarian, managerialist regimes), they are becoming newly vulnerable anyway: potential clients for their own services.

Neoliberal fallout.
Dr Clare Gerada, former president of the Royal College of General Practitioners, made it clear in interview that:

  • The number of doctors becoming affected by mental illness or addiction is a frontline issue that could have catastrophic consequences.
  • NHS occupational health services have been drastically cut in recent years, which coincides with increased workloads and stress.
  • For GPs, it’s the pressure of the workload, the denigration of what they are trying to do. For others, it is the loss of team structure.
  • An atmosphere of fear and uncertainty pervades the NHS, adding to doctors’ anxiety about being perceived as weak or unwell.
  • (Doctors’) problems are deep-rooted, psychological and social, part of a stigma in the NHS attached to weakness, addiction or mental illness.
  • There is absolutely no pastoral support, no help for doctors with mental illness, no post-traumatic stress counselling.[lxxiv]

A “50 year old consultant at the top of his profession, . . recently diagnosed with bipolar II disorder” who reckons he has had it for 20 years of his career, revealed the intense pressure on him not “to be found out”.[lxxv]

I lose a child, I lose a 20-year-old, and I go round the back of the hospital and have a fag and then          it’s straight back to work. There’s no debrief, no pastoral support.[lxxvi]

At the other extreme, unpaid carers (mostly women), who have been in role for many years, and who have no union, agency or support group to mitigate mental health crises or represent their interests, are themselves succumbing to ill health, desperation and collapse.[lxxvii]

Compare these examples of overload, isolation and lack of institutional care and support, with another expanding cohort with mental health issues in 2014. Combat Stress, the charity set up to provide for the mental health needs of war veterans, has recorded a 57% surge in those seeking help in 2013, its current caseload of 5,400 comprising veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.[lxxviii] General Sir Richard Dannatt comments:

The Ministry of Defence will always try to talk the figure down for budgetary and compensation              reasons. But psychiatric injuries should be widely recognized and talked about.[lxxix]

He said that former soldiers were often caught up in a “culture of coping alone” and that it needed to be recognised that there were too many former combatants who ended up in jail as murderers, or as suicide victims.[lxxx] Meanwhile, it appears that more and more medics (salaried professionals) and carers (unpaid ‘volunteers’), both devoted to providing the very best care, struggle to survive and cope in their own private ‘combat zones’, and remain largely abandoned: invisible, unless identified (scapegoated?) as being culpable (for a ‘mistake’ or ‘failure’).

In 2014, the mental health movement also finds echoes in critique by beleaguered academics (‘exhausted, stressed, overloaded, suffering insomnia, feeling anxious, experiencing feelings of shame, aggression, hurt, guilt and out-of-placeness’[lxxxi]) of the impact of neoliberalism on the university sector.[lxxxii] The ‘disciplinary technologies’[lxxxiii] of neoliberalism, New Public Management practices and audit culture have been described as inducing ‘psychosis’ in modern public universities:[lxxxiv] an institutional exemplar of the social determinants of mental health: ‘Bad things happen and can drive you crazy.[lxxxv] And all this because, like other former public sector services (such as the NHS, social work, probation, socal care), “the university has become a place of work rather than a vocation”.[lxxxvi]

The diminution or loss of a working environment in which academics, medics, and others, experienced personal / professional agency and efficacy; could practise critical enquiry; and exercise co-creativity without fear or caution, has been replaced by heightened risks and surveillance, as a consequence of top down managerialist controls and government Cuts; and a loss of self esteem and status.[lxxxvii] None of these should count as privilege, rather as human rights. Professor Ronald Barnett, an acknowledged expert worldwide on higher education systems, reflects on the changes to the character of academic life in C21:

There is much to be pessimistic about . . . . Its super-saturated character, being dense with tasks         and expectations; its extending into the life-world and so affecting the life-world balance; its audit             and surveillance regimes; the ‘commodification’ of student learning; and its sheer      instrumentalism, as every activity in academic life is required to have an outcome or impact               beyond itself: these are just some of the sources of pessimism.[lxxxviii]

The public sector post 1945 created a wide range of opportunities (e.g. education, training, travel) and jobs that provided many people with not just a secure income and career path, but with job satisfaction: personal and professional purpose, daily meaningfulness and social conviviality in the workplace. Women especially benefitted from these changes. This is what has been under political attack in these long neoliberal years, and it has been experienced as a violation of the person, with integrity as a casualty; see Andrew Sparkes and Mary O’Reilly (16 05 2013).[lxxxix]

It is clear that mental health is not just ‘a whole population issue’,[xc] but in the wake of 30+ years of neoliberal coercion and control, a whole society crisis, as we stare down ravaging inequalities and consequential personal and social damage.[xci] We have a common enemy and it is not each other. Together we can pool skills and expertise, bear witness across difference, and build alliances that will effect the paradigm change, not just in mental health services, but in society, that will foster human dignity, equality and environmental sustainability.

A necessary chorus of dissent and co-creativity.
These further examples of the social determinants of mental distress and the evidence of widespread injury and damage (to students, workers of all kinds, creatives and professionals alike), lend urgency to the critique of mental health services:

  • that decontextualize the individual[xcii] and human distress;[xciii]
  • that identify ‘control by the powerful, for their own self-interests, of the relatively powerless’;[xciv]
  • a model of ‘control and coercion, not support and care’.[xcv]

The politics of health implicates and has consequences for us all. As has knowledge production: What counts as evidence? Who gets to speak? Who listens? Like academic critiques of neoliberalism, mental health activism, theory and critique go beyond identifying the needs and aspirations of a specific constituency. For example, the recent draft SWAN Mental Health Charter[xcvi] highlights values as well as practices, and implicitly addresses the question of power relations and responsibility, thereby engendering a vital conversation about what counts as good practice. In contrast to psychosocial practices that can (unavoidably?) serve to individualise misery and damage, it is part of a movement that advocates greater service user participation[xcvii] (i.e. partnership and collectivity), as well as self-advocacy,[xcviii] and collaboration, for example involving trade unions.

Moving away from demarcation and divergence, and the tensions and conflicts these have engendered within mental health services in the UK, the service-led group reVision[xcix] facilitates mutuality and reciprocity, beginning to establish a convergence of interests and values between service users, service providers, academics and activists, for example, without loss of face or individual identity. This is peer group process in action beyond the medical environment, and counters entrenched white western, masculinist cultural assumptions about the primacy of the autonomous individual (historically non disabled, white and male), and the virtue of hierarchy.[c] Mutuality, reciprocity, sociability, conviviality are no mere add-ons. Neoliberalism discounts and ridicules these values as beyond and irrelevant to the scope of market consumerism and corporatism.

It is clear that experiencing disadvantage as a function of racism, homophobia, misogyny, bullying, mental health issues, for example, is not simply a function of social class or poverty, although both these are likely to exacerbate mental health crises. Racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, social class prejudice, have been politicizing experiences for many of those at their sharp end, moving us beyond victim status and identity politics, to offer critiques of power in society: organizational, cultural, political and economic. Equality, human rights, sustainability and democracy are entwined projects.

Since 2010 and the ConDem onslaught, many single issue campaigns have sprung up, for example against the bedroom tax, the council tax, benefits cuts, NHS privatization, etc.. These have involved many older and/or vulnerable people unaccustomed to public speaking or action, who have no experience of political campaigning (discourse, language, strategy and communication). In the wake of the Con Dem Cuts and break up of public sector services and values, inexperienced activists may resist identifying their actions as ‘political’. They just want “better services”.

Moving suddenly from a position of social and experiential powerlessness and subjugation, into collective action, personal participation, and self advocacy is a steep learning curve, exposing differences and inequalities between the least and the most experienced activists, that can result in tensions and conflict, arising out of feelings of inferiority on the one side, and superiority on the other. But pain, anguish, anger do not suffice as political heft. Sharing experiences, testifying to disadvantage, bemoaning misery, venting anger, while important features of rising awareness, will not on their own effect the change campaigners need and want.

If you are to build effective alliances with other victims and enemies of the neoliberal project; if you are not to continue to be represented and done to by others / ‘experts’, a process of consciousness raising and politicization is vital. This is a hard call if you feel isolated and without hope or energy, as a result of mental health issues. And as with the claims of previous subjugated constituencies or uprisings, there is the inbuilt paradox of simultaneously claiming disadvantage (specialness, victim status) and agency (the ability to function ‘normally’, to be ‘hardworking’, contribute to other lives and to society). So wanting recognition of how debilitating depression or PTSD is, for example, accompanies the desire to be accorded full human rights and status. And it’s not an either/or.

Political awareness comes on the back of subjugation and injustice, and its endurance. The development of resistance follows. And in turn, we build collectivity and alliances. This process of politicisation is a movement outwards, from privacy into the public domain, from silence to voice, from fear to agency and co-creativity / co-production.[ci] A well-worn, historical path.

But Thatcherism and neoliberalism stigmatised and criminalized protest and political organisations, such as the unions. Neoliberal culture also had its sights on democracy itself, and has worked hard to convince people that politics was for ‘élites’ or ‘losers’, and that political debate was old-fashioned, unfashionable (unless packaged for BBC1’s Question Time) and pointless.

I have long argued that agency and creativity function for humans as both self-care and politics. This understanding has particular resonance in 2014 for the mental health movement. It has been claimed that:

Fighting for the rights of people deemed mad, who have already suffered more than enough, is               the last great civil rights movement.[cii]

This bold (over)statement implies, not just self-advocacy, but alliance and representation; a dissolution of boundaries as well as hostilities and prejudice, in recognition that previous liberation and sustainability movements have never been simply rooted in vested interests, but brought together diverse and hybrid individuals and communities of interest, to identify and address broad human rights, social justice and environmental issues. Vested interest politics, after all, belongs to the Right.

Acknowledging our shared “somatic crisis”[ciii] and the need to move from bullying and authoritarianism, control and coercion; from psychiatry (like universities) identified by women service users as an ‘essentially patriarchal institution’,[civ] towards ‘nurturing mental capital and wellbeing’,[cv] returning empathy and compassion to the public domain, on the basis of a human rights framework,[cvi] and a commitment to social justice, is the necessary, collective undoing of the neoliberal project, for all our sakes/souls. Common ground for urgent but long term cultivation.

val walsh / 25 06 2014

[i] See Andrew C. Sparkes (2013) Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health in the era of neoliberalism, audit and New Public Management: understanding the conditions for the (im)possibilties of a new paradigm dialogue. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health: 13.

[ii] Thomas Piketty (2014) Capital.

[iii] Sean Baine (02 05 2014) letter to The Guardian.

[iv] Ha-Joon Chang (01 05 2014) Article in The Guardian. Also (2011) 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism.

[v] Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2010) The Spirit Level. Why Equality is Better for Everyone. London: Penguin Books.

[vi] See CLASS,                                For a qualitative, nuanced analysis of inequality, see Danny Dorling (2011) Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists.

[vii] As Derry Hunter’s gendered autobiographical narrative of sexual violence, oppression and psychosis testifies (18 11 2013): Madness and uncivilisation. ISP UK event, Liverpool Quaker Meeting House.

[viii] teacher killed in classroom

[ix] See Val Walsh (15 01 2014) ‘Picking up the pieces: men and masculinity in an outsourced world’. LJMU. In category ‘Conference papers 2014’. togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[x] Fergal Keene talk 2013. University of Liverpool.

[xi] See Owen Gibson (12 05 2014) Premier League chief under fire for sexist emails. The Guardian. And Rani Abraham (21 05 2014) Why I blew the whistle. The Guardian.

[xii] See Val Walsh, selection of unpublished letters to The Guardian at togetherfornow.wordpress.com: (02 07 2010) Opening a dialogue on rape, violence and gender [posted 19 09 2013]; (06 07 2011) Rape, violence and gender: the new normal? (posted 19 09 2013]; (07 04 2013) The Philpott case and the media: sensationalism, denial, obfuscation, irresponsibility. [posted 19 09 2013]; (17 05 2013) Daniel Cohn-Bendit: children of the ‘revolution’ [posted 19 09 2013]; (02 06 2013) Gender, violence and the media: free speech or irresponsible speech [posted 19 09 2013]; Anachronistic conduct [posted 21 01 2014]; Gender-neutral language ‘disappears’ men and masculinity [posted 20 04 2014]; Murder in a UK classroom [posted 02 05 2014].

[xiii] John Read & Jacqui Dillon (eds, 2nd edition) (2013) Models of Madness: Psychological, Social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis. London & New York, Routledge, published for ISPS (The International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis: 3.

[xiv] Ibid.: 2.

[xv] John Read (05 04 2014) University of Liverpool handout. 196

[xvi] Judi Clements & Emma Davies (2013) Prevention of psychosis. Creating societies where more people flourish. Read & Dillon (eds.): 296

[xvii] Judi Clements & Emma Davies (2013) Prevention of psychosis. Creating societies where more people flourish. Read & Dillon (eds.): 300/3002.

[xviii] John Read & Jacqui Dillon (2013) Creating Evidence-based, effective and humane mental health services. Overcoming barroers to a paradigm shift. Read & Dillon (eds.): 400.

[xix] John Read, Lucy Johnstone & Melissa Taitimu (2013) Psychosis, poverty and ethnicity. Read & Dillon (eds.): 191.

[xx] John Read, Lucy Johnstone & Melissa Taitimu (2013) Psychosis, poverty and ethnicity. Read & Dillon (eds): 200.

[xxi] Bryan Koehler, Ann-Louise Silver & Bertram Karon (2013) Psychodynamic approaches to understanding psychosis. Defences against terror. Read & Dillon (eds): 243

[xxii] Department of Health (2003) Women’s Mental Health: Into the Mainstream, Strategic Development of Mental Health Care for Women. Cited Women’s National Commission (January 2010) A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Report from WNC Focus Groups to inform the Department of Health Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Girls: 4.

[xxiii] Women’s National Commission (01 2010) A Bitter Pill to Swallow: Report from WNC Focus Groups to inform the Department of Health Taskforce on the Health Aspects of Violence Against Women and Girls: 4.

[xxiv] HM Government (2007) Cross Governmeånt Action Plan on Sexual Violence and Abuse. Home Office: London. Cited WNC (2010) A Bitter Pill To Swallow : 4.

[xxv] Recent evidence of numerous historic abuse cases, perpetrated by prominent men in the public domains of entertainment and politics (many carried out over a period of years) have amply demonstrated the lingering mental distress, ill health and damage caused by these violations.

[xxvi] (03 2014) Domestic Abuse & Mental Health.

[xxvii] Ibid.: 4.

[xxviii] Cited J. Read, N. Haslam, L. Sayce & E. Davies (2006) Review article. Prejudice and schizophrenia: a review of the ‘mental illness is an illness like any other’ approach. Acta Psychiatr Scand: 114: 307.

[xxix] See Refuge 2007; Home Office 2010.

[xxx] See Jessica Valenti (25 05 2014) Elliot Rodgers’ California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills. The Guardian.

[xxxi] Hannana Siddiqui & Meena Patel (2010) Safe and Sane. A Model of Intervention on Domestic Violence and Mental Health, Suicide and Self-Harm Amongst Black and Minority Ethnic Women. Southall Black Sisters Trust: 12.

[xxxii] Raleigh et al cited Siddiqui & Patel (2010): 9.

[xxxiii] Siddiqui & Patel (2010): 7.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Siddiqui & Patel (2010): 11.

[xxxvi] What Women Want Group (03 2014) Domestic Abuse & Mental Health: 19.

[xxxvii] What Women Want Group (03 2014): 28.

[xxxviii] Ibid.: 25.

[xxxix] See WNC (2010) Psychiatry and mental health services; and Adult social Care Services for ‘vulnerable adults. A Bitter Pill To Swallow: 86-96.

[xl] Ibid.: 87.

[xli] Ibid.: 31.

[xlii] Ibid.: 40.

[xliii] Ibid.: 34.

[xliv] Ibid.: 42.

[xlv] M. Boyle (2011) in Rapley et al De-Medicalizing Misery, cited Read & Dillon (2013) Creating evidence-based, effective and human health services. Overcoming barriers to a paradigm shift. Ibid: 398. See for example, WNC Report (2010) A Bitter Pill to Swallow, and Hannana Siddiqui & Meena Patel (2010) Safe and Sane. A Model of Intervention on Domestic Violence and Mental Health, Suicide and Self-Harm Amongst Black and Minority Ethnic Women. Southall Black Sisters Trust.

[xlvi] See Val Walsh (2005) ‘Into the sunlight’: Gender, narrative, mental health. Resources for a missing conversation. togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[xlvii] A Bitter Pill To Swallow (01 2010): 14.

[xlviii] Hannana Siddiqui & Meena Patel 2010) Safe and Sane. A Model of Intervention on Domestic Violence and Mental Health, Suicide and Self-harm Amongst Black and Minority Ethnic Women. Southall Black Sisters Trust: 8.

[xlix] Ibid.: 113.

[l] See Human Rights Act 1998; the Beijing Declaration and Platform Action 1995; the Convention for the Eliminaton of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 1979; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989.

[li] Rory Carroll (26 05 2014) US gun culture and mental health system under fresh scrutiny after shooting spree. The Guardian.

[lii] Cited Carroll (26 05 2014).

[liii] Jessica Valenti (25 05 2014) Elliot Rodgers California shooting spree: further proof that misogyny kills. The Guardian.

[liv] Matthew Taylor (02 06 2014) Savile abused 500 children, says report. The Guardian. A study by the NSPCC, commissioned by BBC Panorama in conjunction with The World At One. (02 06 2014) provide the latest evidence.

[lv] See Val Walsh (2005) ‘Into the sunlight’: Gender narrative, (mental) health. Resources for a missing conversation. togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[lvi] John Read & Jacqui Dillon (2014) Creating evidence-based, effective and humane mental health services. Overcoming barriers to a paradigm shift. Read & Dillon (eds.): 405.

[lvii] R. Kogstad (2012) Towards a paradigmatic shift in mental health care? cited ibid.: 404.

[lviii] See Walsh (2005).

[lix] Pat Craven’s The Freedom Programme, first available in Tranmere, on the Wirral, has proved influential and useful as both resource and process for women survivors, and has since been adopted across the country and made available as a book.

[lx] Cited WNC (01 2010) A Bitter Pill To Swallow: 89.

[lxi] Ibid..

[lxii] Ibid.: 90.

[lxiii] Ibid.: 92.

[lxiv] See ibid.: 93.

[lxv] See ibid.: 95.

[lxvi] As shocking secret filming inside institutions has shown.

[lxvii] WNC (01 2010) ibid..

[lxviii] See Boyle (2011) Making the world go away, and how psychology and psychiatry benefit. In M. Rapley et al (eds.) De-Medicalising Misery: cited Read & Dillon (2014) Creating evidence-based, effective and human mental health services. Overcoming barriers to a paradigm shift: 397/8.

[lxix] See for example, press cutting / murder

[lxx] Melissa McEwan, cited Jessica Valenti (25 05 2014).

[lxxi] See Jane Fae (30 05 2014) Is this a trans moment? The Guardian.

[lxxii] In 2009 the Nursing & Midwifery Council struck off a male psychiatric nurse, as a result of his five month “inappropriate sexual relationship” with a much younger female client, whose mental health issues (including suicidal ideation) were consequent on her experience of sexual abuse as a teenager by an older man. Contrast this with the drawn out process of denial and non-enquiry into, for example, the (now admitted) sexual harassment of younger Lib Dem colleagues by Lord Rennard. Fellow Lords are now “glad it’s all over” (Lord Steel, 29 05 2014) and demanding his re-instatement after his suspension from the House. See Rowena Mason (31 05 2014) Party grandees call for Rennard’s return to fold. The Guardian. See also Val Walsh (21 01 2014) Anachronistic conduct. Unpublished letter to The Guardian. Posted in togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[lxxiii] New Zealand nurse, John Clarke, personal communication to JR, 2012, cited Read & Dillon(2014) Creating evidence-based, effective and humane mental health services. Overcoming barriers to a paradigm shift: 398.

[lxxiv] Cited Louise Carpenter (17 05 2014) Bad medicine. The Guardian Weekend: 50.

[lxxv] Ibid..

[lxxvi] Ibid..

[lxxvii] See Judith Varley (08 04 2014) on the crisis of mental health for carers. Merseyside People’s Health Assembly Report: 3-7.

[lxxviii] Nick Hopkins (12 05 2014) Mental illness surges among war veterans. The Guardian. Dr. Nicola Sorfleet (12 05 2014), in charge of psychological therapies at Combat stress’s treatment centre in Leatherhead, Surrey, reported: Veterans are seeking help quickly. This gives us hope. The Guardian.

[lxxix] General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff when British forces were fighting in Iran and Afghanistan. Cited Nick Hopkins (12 05 2014).

[lxxx] Ibid..

[lxxxi] R. Burrows (2012) Living with the h-index? Metric assemblages in the contemporary academy. The Sociological Review, 60 (2), 355-372. Cited Sparkes: 4. See also Stephen Ball (2003) The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity. Journal of Education Policy Volume, 18 (2), 215-218.

[lxxxii] See Sparkes’ chilling exposition and summary (2013). Mary O’Reilly (16 05 2013) searingly testifies to the current crisis in mental health care in ‘Human cost – Where does personal and professional integrity figure on a spreadsheet?’ BASW conference, London. The parallels between the analyses of Andrew and Mary are telling. As is the underlying (on the one hand) and explicit (on the other) pain, anguish and anger of their testimony. And their courage.

[lxxxiii] R. Craig, J. Amernic & D. Tourish (in press) Perverse audit culture and accountability of the modern public university. Financial Accountability and Management. Cited Sparkes: 7.

[lxxxiv] Ibid.: 8.

[lxxxv] John Read, Lorenza Magliano & Vanessa Beavan (2013) Public beliefs about the causes of ‘schizophrenia’. Bad things happen and can drive you crazy. In Read & Dillon: 143.

[lxxxvi] Ronald Barnett (2014) Conclusion. Academia as workplace: A natural pessimism and a due optimism. Lynne Gornall, Caryn Cook, Lyn Daunton, Jane Salisbury & Brychan Thomas (eds.) Academic Working Lives: Experience, Practice and Change: 302.

[lxxxvii] See Lynne Gornall et al. (2014) Introduction: Starting the day fresh: hidden work and discourse in contemporary academic practice. Gornall et al.: 1-9. Also Rod Kelly & Rebecca Boden (2014) How management accounting shapes academic lives. Gornall et al.: 94-101; Lynne Gornall & Brychan Thomas (2014) Professional work and policy reform agendas in a marketised higher education system. Gornall et al.: 110-118; Sandra Acker & Michelle Webber (2014) Academia as the (comp)promised land of women? Gornall et al.: 199-206.

[lxxxviii] Ronald Barnett (2014) Conclusion. Academia as workplace: A natural pessimism and a due optimism. Lynne Gornall, Caryn Cook, Lyn Daunton, Jane Salisbury & Brychan Thomas (eds.) Academic Working Lives: Experience, Practice and Change: 296.

[lxxxix] refs to Andrew Sparkes, Mary, et al.

[xc] Judi Clements & Emma Davies (2013) Prevention of psychosis. Creating societies where more people flourish. in Read & Dillon: 296.

[xci] See Val Walsh (09 09 2013) ‘Why set up a blog now’ and ‘Democracy in turmoil: Lies, exploitation, corruption, damage, division, conflict, abuse. . . Is that all there is? (With a nod to singer Peggy Lee.)’ togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[xcii] John Read & Jacqui Dillon (eds.) (2013), 2nd edition) Models of Madness: Psychological, social and Biological Approaches to Psychosis. East Sussex, Routledge: 399.

[xciii] John Read & Jacquie Dillon (2013) Creating evidence-based effective and humane mental health services. Overcoming barriers to paradigm shift. In Read & Dillon, ibid: 394.

[xciv] Ibid: 393.

[xcv] Mick McKeown, Fiona Jones & Helen Spandler (2013) Challenging austerity policies: democratic alliances between survivor groups and trade unions. Mental Health Nursing 33(6): XX.

[xcvi] (04 2014) SWAN Mental Health Service Charter.

[xcvii] See Jacqui Dillon, Peter Bullimore, Debra Lampshire & Judi Chamberlin (2014) The work of experience-based experts. Read & Dillon (eds.): 314.

[xcviii] See ibid.: 310.

[xcix] The mental health organisation, reVision, aims to be “an alliance of critically aware thinkers”. Its statement of intent and purpose refers to empowerment through research and education, the connections between individual experiences and structural oppression and disadvantage, facilitating collective empowerment, and speaking out against the medicalization of inequality. For more information: revision.liverpool@hotmail.co.uk

[c] See Boyle cited Read & Dillon: 397.

[ci] See The Resilience Space 2014. Surviving Work: the Activists’ Survival Guide. http://www.survivingwork.org

[cii] Dillon , Bullimore, Lampshire & Chamberlin (2014) ibid.: 315.

[ciii] Cited Andrew Sparkes (2013) ibid.: 13.

[civ] WNC Report (2010) ibid: 92.

[cv] Clements & Davies (2013) ibid: 297.

[cvi] Mary O’Reilly (2013) points out that the NHS constitution, part of the Health Act 2009, makes clear that healthcare and human rights go hand in hand. See also Hannana Siddiqui & Meena Patel (2010) Safe and Sane. A Model of Intervention on Domestic Violence and Mental Health, Suicide and Self-Harm Amongst Black and Minority Ethnic Wome, citing the importance of human rights obligations as a framework for best practice. Southall Black Sisters Trust. And Women’s National Commission Report (January 2010) ibid.







Submission to Mayor of Liverpool’s Commission on Environmental Sustainability. Val Walsh[i] s

Reflections on climate change, sustainability and democracy:

prioritizing renewal, equity and justice in the Liverpool city region.

  • Governance and leadership
  • Inequality / Inequalities
  • Research and innovation
  • On not speaking for others
  • Health, wellbeing and community
  • Sustainability and non market values
  • Living with individualism: “this storm we call progress”[ii]
  • Quality of place: harbour/port; home/springboard; sanctuary/hive; childhood/livelihood.

Achieving sustainability as a driver within lives, communities, culture and economy in Liverpool city region will not be the result of a series of technical fixes. Embarking on the next stage of the long-term process of cultural change involves an ambitious, qualitative shift, as local researchers and campaigners Pete North and Tom Barker note in their excellent report:

A low carbon Liverpool will have to use multiple approaches. . . . It is obvious that a holistic approach is necessary to make real progress”.[iii] Emphasis added.

 In this spirit, and in response to the invitation to make a submission to the Mayoral Commission on Environmental Sustainability as a member of LFoE, and taking a lead from the key themes flagged up at the Liverpool Green Partnership (LGP) event at Blackburne House (01 07 2014), selected themes are presented here, not as discrete, but to emphasise their interconnections: how they echo, combine and reinforce each other in a tapestry of meaningfulness and practical actions: and always as a work in progress.

Governance and leadership.
These are not technical and/or organisational matters only, but from the outset must exemplify the Commission’s stated/agreed purpose and values.

  • The Commission’s governance must demonstrate due consideration of process and methodology, which embody values, relationships and protocol that explicitly counter, challenge and seek to undo the neoliberal curse: its infrastructure, relational patterns and assumptions, and above all its consequences / outcomes for individuals, communities, society, the built environment, and the natural world. The damage, the despair, the injustice; the violence and violations; the planned deterioration and dismantling of our social fabric and the public sector values that have done so much to sustain this in the years that preceded the Coalition government in 2010, constitute a raft of obstacles to social and environmental sustainability in 2014 and beyond.
  • The challenge of sustainability requires this necessary ethical and practical revolution, rather than various technical adjustments: a heartfelt cultural politics, not ‘polite’ game-playing or timid bureaucracy. And it has to start immediately.
  • By this I mean we have to enact change now in order to achieve change in/for the future. We have to embody remembered and/or imagined values now, first through the Commission’s membership, processes and practices: its own embodied governance.
  • To do this, familiar, conventional patterns of power and control must cede to the ‘experimental’, such as mixed membership and participation: not all (older), ‘powerful’ men in positions of seniority and authority; not all white; not all non-disabled; not all affluent, etc.. Only one woman on the Commission so far: did no-one notice? Did no-one think this an insufficiency, a disadvantage even in 2014?
  • Any sustainable (i.e. just) society / community / city will not be, emerge from, or be realised by, a monoculture. Monocultures are fragile and unbalanced in their exclusivity and narrowness, and unfair in their embodiment of inequalities, dominance and subordination. Commission members and participants must be drawn from the City’s diversity, including young people and community activists, for example.
  • Understanding of the task by the Commission has to be thorough and authentic, as opposed to rhetoric, sound-bite or ‘green-wash’. Commitment to the challenge and change process must be genuine and unrelenting, not spin for tourists and inward ‘investors’.
  • To demonstrate such understanding and commitment, the Commission has to be seen to be connecting with, consulting, drawing on and constituted by, existing expertise (experiential as well as technical and professional) in the city region: its universities, businesses, communities, mental health sector, public health sector, specialist services, cultural and activist organisations, and individuals. Facilitating a peer group of participation, rather than a hierarchy of vested interests.
  • The level and quality of citizen and community participation recognized as key ingredients and outcomes in Bristol and Nantes demonstrate the significance of democratic capacity building and participation as intrinsic to enhancing sustainability consciousness within the city region (they go together), and achieving practical, social and cultural change informed by sustainability values. These examples (presented at ESRC-funded seminars at the University of Liverpool in 2012) of cities working towards, and achieving, EU Green City status, were inspirational as well as instructive for those of us in cities, like Liverpool, aspiring to become a healthy and sustainable City, but with little of the political and economic infrastructure in place at the time. Just years of community activism and action / intellectual efforts / knowledge production / frustration.

    Inequality / inequalities.   

What types of economic actors (workers, taxpayers, shareholders) make contributions of effort and money to the innovation process for the sake of future, inherently uncertain, returns? Are these the same types of economic actors who are able to appropriate returns from the innovation process if and when they appear? That is, who takes the risks and who gets the rewards?[iv]

To be sure, venture capitalists and other private-equity holders take risks, although even then mostly with other people’s (primarily workers’) money. . . . (And) venture capital looks to exit from                   its investments in at most 5 years.[v]

Lazonick & Mazzucato’s framework, called the Risk-Reward Nexus (RRN), studies the relationship between innovation and inequality, and their arguments and theorizing are highly relevant both to the reframing of economics and its role within the economy and within political discourses, as well as the reframing of the relationship between economics, politics and sustainability / the low carbon economy. They note how:

Research is now conducted on the basis of a largely segmented division of labour in which labour              economists work on inequality, and industrial economists on technology – with both these groups        typically ignoring the role of finance in the economy . . . . If we do not have a theory of value       creation, how can we differentiate value that is created and value that is simply extracted (what             some have called ‘rent’)? This is precisely what the RRN approach aims to analyse.[vi]

This segmentation is also an obstacle to sustainability understanding and action. Philosopher Michael Sandel, analyses the relationships at the other end of the market economy, in terms of two objections to markets: fairness, which asks about the inequality that market choices may reflect, and the corruption objection, which asks about the attitudes and norms that market relations may damage or dissolve.[vii] The fairness objection points out that:

          Market choices are not free choices if some people are desperately poor or lack the ability to      bargain on fair terms. So in order to know whether a market choice is a free choice, we have to ask    what inequalities in the background conditions of society undermine meaningful consent.[viii]

Or participation more generally. For example, to state the obvious:

              The attainment of gender equality can be greatly affected by women’s lack of participation in decision-making.[ix]

  1. Domain of power: gender imbalance in decision-making remains an important challenge at EU level for all Member States.[x] (Chapter heading.)

The European Institute for Gender Equality reports “low levels of gender equality in political decision-making”, and that “the lowest gender equality score can be found in economic decision-making.”[xi]

I draw attention to these issues, which also raise the question of intersectionality (intersecting inequalities) as it pertains to the membership and work of the Commission, in the light of the opening comments on governance and leadership above. Gender equality is not just about numerical presence, but the qualitative difference diversity brings into decision-making and social action. From the outset the Commission needs to be aware of the consequences of existing and entrenched power imbalances, in society at large, in the city region, and within groups, inasmuch as these have a bearing on the Commission’s remit, and also within the Commission itself. It must not make the mistake of ‘unwittingly’ or willfully reproducing these, as has been the norm in Liverpool.[xii]

  • At the LGP (Liverpool Green Partnership) event (01 07 2014), ‘Shaping our city’s future’, attendees were asked to think about and comment on “What’s missing?”
  • But it is not just a question of what’s missing? But who is missing from this knowledge exchange?
  • For example, how will the Commission attract and involve those communities and constituencies who are routinely ignored and marginalized, and who in turn absent themselves from such civic projects in Liverpool? BAMER communities, economically deprived, working-class communities, people with disabilities, women, for example. (See intersectionality comment above.)

“Community Development is not a service but an approach”, observed a leading Community Development Consultant recently,[xiii] and I suggest this insight is relevant to the work of the Sustainability Commission, as it seeks to develop and model an ethos and practice that is not top-down, authoritarian and controlling, but about engagement, peer process, knowledge exchange and co-production.[xiv] (See below.)

Research and innovation.

 Innovation is a learning process that unfolds over time. . . . Investment in innovation is a direct                    investment that involves, first and foremost, a strategic confrontation with technological, market,        and competitive uncertainty.[xv]

Lazonick & Mazzucato highlight the normatively overlooked roles of both government (representing the collectivity of taxpayers), in relation to high fixed cost investments in physical infrastructure and knowledge bases, and the exertion of individual workers which is “critical to the process of organisational learning that is the essence of the innovation process”.[xvi]

Besides being uncertain, the innovation process is therefore collective, and it is the collectivity of taxpayers, workers, and financiers who to different degrees bear the risk of innovative           enterprise.[xvii]

 Lazonick & Mazzucato argue that:

The collective character of the innovation process provides a foundation for inclusive growth; the            participation of large numbers of people in the innovation process means that inherent in the innovation process is a rationale for the widespread and equitable distribution of the gains of    innovation.[xviii]

 In addition, they point out: “markets do not create value”.[xix]

It is organisations, not markets, that create value in the economy. Historically, well-developed                   markets are the result, not the cause of economic development that is driven by organisations in the forms of supportive families, innovative enterprises, and developmental states.[xx]

 This in turn, highlights the importance of human capital: of investing in human beings and the development of their skills and knowledge base.

On not speaking for others.
In research, as in public health, there is no such thing as ‘people’, just various overlapping constituencies and cohorts, which makes disaggregated data a vital tool in the pursuit of good evidence and equality. Reiterating the importance of critical awareness of power and power relations within research process and knowledge production; developing an equality-aware methodology, sociologically and ethically fit for purpose (i.e. part of the ‘solution’, not perpetuating the problem), depends on the following framing assumptions:

  • human rights perspective and values: we are all ‘subjects’[xxi]
  • to hold rights and to act those rights[xxii]
  • mental health as generally a human rights issue[xxiii]
  • resources as human rights issue[xxiv]
  • supported decision-making. “Decision-making requires support.”[xxv]

Mindful of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 28, in relation to climate change/justice, a rights-based agenda “requires fair and equitable burden-sharing mechanisms”.[xxvi] Similarly, in line with the Expert Group, Commission on the Status of Women, 2008, key messages include:

Climate change policy and financing must seek to promote sustainable development as the          grounding for gender equality, women’s empowerment and poverty eradication. Emphasis added.

Gender analysis, gender perspective and women’s effective participation must be assured at all                  levels of the climate policy and climate change financing architecture.[xxvii]

The quality and relevance of the information base used to inform and justify low carbon and sustainability policies and practices will be a function of such ethical considerations, which actively support inclusion in practice, as opposed to re-enforcing hierarchy and inequality. Reporting on some of the consequences, spin-offs and life-changing experiences arising from time spent at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) during its 40 years, via the oral history project he has been conducting, Allan Shepherd notes that:

 CAT’s open approach was particularly beneficial for many of the women I interviewed, some of                   whom experienced a profound sense of empowerment during their time here, either because the           spirit of CAT encouraged them to participate more fully in jobs that would normally be the                   preserve of men (hard physical labour and practical outdoor jobs such as building and engineering)          or because the flat management structure enabled women to play central roles in a way that               traditional male-dominated hierarchies did not. I remember being the only man on the                 management board with four women. CAT was a socialist feminist enterprise (with a small ‘s’ and      ‘f’, for it was never draconian in either attitude.[xxviii]

And living and working in an environment and organizational culture that disregarded those male-dominated, hierarchical models in the world beyond, must also have had an impact on the men (as well as the children on site). The Critical Voices Network Ireland serves as another example of “a democratic space with no hierarchical structures”:[xxix]

An environment has been created where different and sometimes conflicting voices and agendas            can be heard and respected rather than silenced”.[xxx]

 This kind of sensitivity to power differentials and imbalances can be markedly absent within more traditional working environments, where power bases and territoriality take precedence, to the detriment of a group’s purpose and outcomes. These skills are developed via practice, critical reflection and good will. Harry Gijbels (Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing & Midwifery, University College Cork) and Lydia Sapouna (Lecturer, School of Applied Social Sciences, University College Cork) speak of how “roles within the group are there to serve the group”, and the desire/aim is “to espouse and encourage creativity and spontaneity”.[xxxi] (Emphasis added.) This is an explicit methodology, demonstrating awareness of the politics of knowledge production and epistemology, and as such has relevance for knowledge production generally, as much as in healing and recovery.

Since the 1970s there has been a wealth of research demonstrating the importance of storying, life histories and narrative in/as knowledge production. For example:

  • narrative as research methodology /democratic resource / empowerment / ethics
  • focusing on stories not symptoms = holistic and integrative
  • what happened to you / me?
  • not what is wrong with them / her / him / you / me / it?

This movement has provided qualitative approaches to lives and experience previously hidden, marginalised or stigmatized, so it has democratic relevance. (See Health, wellbeing and community below.) But it has also proved its value in other contexts, where complexity and/or uncertainty are to the fore, and where creativity and innovation are therefore needed.

Vicky Pryce, commenting on the film Erin Brockovich (2000) as an economist, alludes to this problem:

The film highlighted a real economic issue: the difficulty the markets have in putting a price on the impact of a company’s core activity on the wider environment. In economics speak, this is the problem of measuring “externalities”. Pollution, medical consequences, congestion, noise, climate change, community displacement and unrest fall into that category. What isn’t measured tends to be ignored.[xxxii] Emphasis added.

 And, as Tom Barker notes, “it’s what is not counted that tends to matter most”:[xxxiii] those externalities Pryce refers to. Her observation highlights the importance of collecting data in the first place (no data, no collective/public understanding, no subsequent, evidence-based action), but also the importance of qualitative approaches, such as narrative and stories, which don’t measure or count, but rather explore / exemplify / indicate / demonstrate / assess experience and significance. Pryce implicitly alerts us to the problem of markets and neoliberal, wall-to-wall marketization of the last 30+ years, which the Commission now has to confront.

Pete North and Tom Barker’s report (2011), Building the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside, demonstrates the value of qualitative research, in particular in chapter 4, ‘Supporting new and existing SMEs’ (pp29-56) and chapter 5, ‘Supporting new and existing social enterprises’ (pp57-76). These chapters provide extensive experiential evidence; testimony from those interviewed, not as sound-bites or ticking the interviewer’s question boxes, but as flowing, discursive description, analysis and reflection. Invaluable, rich data for the Commission’s task: not just data collection, but glimpses of conversations about sustainability in our City and beyond, that result in consciousness-raising, knowledge exchange and production; a sense of mutuality and reciprocity that benefits everyone involved. This also effects the culture shift from uncertainty, frustration and despond, to can do. Tim Gee has analysed the importance of this process of mustering the political will needed to achieve environmental transformation: “from cultural preparation to power-shifting”.[xxxiv]

CAT, set up in 1974 in a disused slate quarry in Machynlleth, mid Wales, by a group of environmental and social activists, has always placed dialogue, conversation, knowledge exchange and experimentation at the heart of its relationships and work. A CAT graduate (male) testifies to the impact of this ethos:

I found the attitude of the people at CAT very liberating, which emboldened me to change to a                                                      new lifestyle. . . . I am now utilizing the woodland to engage in environmental education through                    hosting of Forest School sessions, with the aims of developing the social skills of children and                                           inspiring them through nature.[xxxv]

Health, wellbeing and community.
Looking back on the early years of CAT, Paul Allen, long term CAT staff member writes:

The concept of ‘alternative technology’ signalled a huge shift in our socio-technical evolution. . . . as                         technology began to confront the limits of the ecosystem, questions had to be asked about the limits to material growth, damage to natural systems and depletion of resources. . . . CAT’s Peter Harper coined the phrase ’alternative technology’ (AT) (but) more than just harvesting energy from alternative resources, it meant opening up technology to both comprehension and control by citizens and communities, challenging market dominance and focusing on benefits to living things, not just the economy. Emphasis added.[xxxvi]

 So from the off, 40 years ago, CAT was a holistic, creative, multi-disciplinary, co-operative, socio-political project, that became identified as ‘environmental’. In retrospect, this naming can be seen as problematic in that it has produced what George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach and Information Network (coinet.org.uk), has called “selective framing that creates the maximum distance”.[xxxvii] This new category, ‘environmental’, would face a lot of rejection and denial along the way, partly because it was an unfamiliar, whole new uncategorisable thing, seen as separate from existing categories and politics.

 If we take a step back we can see that the impacts of climate change are so wide-ranging that it could equally well be defined as a major economic, military, agricultural, or social rights issue.[xxxviii]

 Such cognitive and practical complexity presents problems for minds being trained by neoliberal turbo consumerism to demarcate and think in terms of fragments, market segments, etc.. In 1991, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Zygmunt Bauman, judged that:

The central frame of both modern intellect and modern practice is opposition – more precisely, dichotomy. . . . . Dichotomy is an exercise in power and the same time its disguise. [xxxix]

 In 2010, Marshall challenged a senior campaigner with Amnesty international, the world’s largest human rights organization, “to explain why Amnesty did not mention climate change anywhere on its website.”[xl]

He agreed that it is an important issue but felt that Amnesty “doesn’t really do environmental issues”. In other words it was outside their ‘norms of attention’.[xli]

It would take a while, even within environmental circles, for environmental, social justice, health and wellbeing issues, for example, to be understood as intimately entwined. And as useful as the Stockholm Sustainable Development Goals (2013) are, mapping six major and interconnected themes, I see no evidence of gender analysis or awareness of the relevance of feminist issues and feminist theory to the sustainability project. Women are mentioned (obliquely) regarding combatting HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child care’![xlii] So women as wombs/sex/reproductive organs. . . . that sounds familiar. How can we sensibly, fairly and insightfully discuss local or global sustainability issues (including poverty) without gender awareness and feminist (and postcolonial) theory?

With regard to the links between health, wellbeing and community, in 2014 there are many examples of good and best practice in research, knowledge production (including the arts), peer process, community organising and co-creativity, from which we can learn and be inspired by.[xliii] Local examples I have encountered or been involved in recently, which variously exemplify equality awareness, creative process, democratic decision-making and capacity building, include:

  • The Communiversity and the Alt Valley Community Trust
  • North End Writers workshop (26 06 2014) ‘Our Kind.’ INTAR conference
  • VoiceBox Inc – Voices from The BRINK: “our values and commitment to empowerment and ‘Curious Connected Co-Creation”. INTAR conference
  • Mick McKeown, Helen Spandler & Mark Cresswell (25 06 2014) Can we be Spartacus? Solidarity, survivor movements and trade unions. INTAR conference
  • LWN (Liverpool Women’s Network) working together to influence and improve women’s position in the city region, for example working with the City Council to produce dedicated VAWG policies and practices
  • MPHA (Merseyside People’s Health Assembly) inaugural event (30 03 2014) & Report (09 04 2014); part of the international PHM (People’s Health Movement)
  • What Women Want Group, a mix of service users, survivors, service providers, researchers, practitioners, academics, activists, collaborating to improve mental health services for women in Liverpool.

LFoE is party to these broad values and approaches, but as a movement it lacks diversity, being overwhelmingly white. All of the innovative collaborations mentioned above variously embody awareness of the social determinants of health and wellbeing, such as poverty, inequality and social injustice (for example, gender power relations, misogyny, racism, homophobia, ageism); violence and abuse; homelessness and environmental degradation; and the synchronicity between health and wellbeing, creativity, human agency, equality and democracy, for example. The latter are indivisible human rights, not privileges, and fundamental to sustainable communities, societies and the natural world.[xliv]

It is perhaps worth noting that all of these projects and groupings (and there are many more) are ‘uprisings’, rather than top-down, organisational or bureaucratic projects. Their power, vitality and relevance are rooted in people’s lives, relationships, dissatisfactions, hopes and desires: their determination to do things differently and better, rather than wait; to develop and exert personal and social creativity, through collective action, rather than give up in silence or screaming. Trust and hope figure prominently, not as abstract nouns, but as forged realities on the ground. The extent and quality of such gatherings and initiatives testify to the social creativity already prominent in the city region.

The Commission’s work could inspire and draw on similar energy, commitment and creativity in Liverpool’s residents and communities, if it is seen as convincing, urgent and relevant: tackling preventable conditions that people recognise as obstacles to a fair and decent life, and as depleting the planet’s resources further and faster.

Life will be different in 2030 whether we decarbonise or not. The choice is between planned and                              orderly changes designed to limit climate change, or unplanned emergency measures in reaction to                                    unpredictable and escalating climate effects.[xlv]

 This is plain speaking from Peter Harper, and points to the importance of the language used to communicate the nature of the crisis we face.[xlvi] North and Barker highlight this challenge in relation to businesses and social enterprises in Liverpool:

The message needs to be optimistic, a message around efficiency, quality and meeting new                                             opportunities from new markets; not one of control, regulation or austerity.[xlvii] Emphasis added.

 They stress the importance of avoiding “mixed messages”,[xlviii] which create uncertainty and ambivalence, and “strategies that focus on emphasizing doom and gloom”.[xlix] Adrian Ramsay, Lecturer in Environment, Politics and Economics at CAT’s Graduate School of the Environment, has to grapple with these political comings and goings.[l] And this is not a superficial, ‘marketing’ point, but very specifically a problem arising in the wake of these neoliberal years:

Climate change is invariably presented as an overwhelming threat requiring unprecedented restraint, sacrifice, and government intervention. The metaphors it invokes are poisonous to people who feel rewarded by free marker capitalism and distrust government interference.[li] Emphasis added.

These consequences cannot be ignored or brushed aside. Ways have to be found to reconnect with and communicate both the human values that lie at the heart of sustainability, social justice and community, as well as the increasingly urgent ecological imperatives:

 Despite the message promoted by political leaders, economists and the mainstream media, developed world economies are unsustainable economically, let alone ecologically and culturally. They must fully embrace environmental sustainability or face ruin.[lii]

Showing rather than telling will be vital, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre makes good use of visual mapping.

Sustainability and non market values.
In 2009 FoE published a commissioned report as part of its national Get Serious About CO2 campaign, in which it mixed stats and information about practical initiatives across a number of target areas, such as insulation, retrofitting, energy, and transport.[liii] Five years later, examples of other positive strategies that could be effectively promoted and speedily implemented, confirm the potential of this approach, combining information, inspiration and practical action, for example:

  • Making the argument for building on brownfield sites, as British architect, Richard Rogers has done,[liv] and for the City Council to start tackling the issue of land use within a sustainability framework, instead of encroaching further into the countryside and creating satellite towns severed from the cultural resources, employment opportunities and social stimulus of existing city populations .
  • Procurement and divestment are two other potentially fast tracks and long-term approaches to change, that could run alongside other new policies and practices. Putting our money where our sustainability hearts are, City Council and other big budget organisations could deploy their financial clout by favouring those companies and organisations that commit to low carbon policies and practices.
  • The fossil fuel divestment movement offers an additional strategy:

If we want to stop climate change, we have to stop paying for it. At a time when stemming the flow of fossil fuels is ‘do or die’ for the planet we depend on, the call to divest has never been more                                       important. Join us.[lv]

  • And might adaptation “be the fastest path to effective mitigation?”[lvi] Another plank of a low carbon strategy locally, which would also contribute to the development of a sustainability mindset and culture in communities and across the city region?

Discussing adaptation appears to help people see that climate change impacts are real.[lvii]

Such a raft of environmental changes clearly constitute more than tinkering at the edges of the low carb challenge, yet they could be embarked on without triggering a sense of doom and gloom, fear and powerlessness, which immobilise rather than motivate. In fact, such discussions and changes empower participants through the expansion of awareness, understanding and conceptual skills, as words/concepts, such as adaptation, divestment and mitigation, move from being unfamiliar abstract nouns/academic concepts, to practical possibilities, with the potential to change individual behaviour and engender positive, social and collective action. And environmental literacy expands general literacy and articulacy, self-confidence and self esteem, as well as a sense of collective responsibility and benefit. As visible results roll out, people’s understanding of and commitment to the sustainability project would expand, becoming the new ‘natural’, the new ‘right’. Examples of this process abound in, for example, Germany:

It may sound like a utopian dream, but planners and residents in Freiburg, Germany have succeeded in creating a pleasant, liveable space in the midst of the city. Allan Shepherd shows how this district came to be a showcase for co-operation, diversity and renewable energy.[lviii]

 Noting the historical rise of the term ‘incentive’ in the 1980s and 1990s, Michael Sandel has critically examined “incentives and moral entanglements”,[lix] asking whether financial incentives, for example, “will corrupt attitudes and norms worth protecting.[lx] This too applies to the sustainability project, given the importance of values and behaviour change for its realization. Challenging the received notion that economics doesn’t traffic in morality, Sandel argues that:

The more markets extend their reach into noneconomic spheres of life, the more entangled they                              become with moral questions.[lxi]

He considers the “crowding out of nonmarket norms”, and asks: “How do market values corrupt, dissolve, or displace nonmarket values?”[lxii] Sandel recommends we recognise that “marketising a good can change its meaning”.[lxiii]

George Monbiot critiques environmental discourses that, instead of threat and terror, have turned to money to incentivise,[lxiv] arguing that “nothing better reinforces extrinsic values than putting a price on nature, or appealing to self-interest.”[lxv] In other words, you cannot fight neoliberalism and its consequences, with its own motives, values and methods, such as commodification, monetisation, marketization, consumerism and competitiveness. And after 30+ years of the neoliberal project, our heads are full of this stuff: internalized as ‘normal’, ‘natural’, ‘right’ and inevitable.

As extrinsic values are powerfully linked to conservative politics, pursuing policies that reinforce them is blatantly self-destructive. . . . One of the drivers of extrinsic values is a sense of threat.[lxvi]

In a poignant shift, Monbiot has recently admitted the error of his own ways:

For 30 years I terrified people, banging on about threats. . . . The language we use could scarcely be                          more alienating. Environment, even, is a cold word that creates no pictures. . . . Terrify the living                           daylights out of people and they will protect themselves at the expense of others and of the living                        world.[lxvii]

Threat will always be a weapon of the Right, of fascism, militarism, and authoritarianism (Right or Left).

On the contents page of his most recent book, Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity, Andrew Simms, one of the UK’s leading environmentalists, a chief analyst for Global Witness and a Fellow of nef (the new economics foundation), cites writer and cultural theorist, Raymond Williams, who poses the alternative:

 To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

This is the artist/creative in Williams speaking, as much as the political man. Too few traditional male activists understand this insight, preferring the familiarity of the comfort zone of ‘protest’, blame, sectarianism, and victimhood as heroism. These entrenched positions do not require problem-solving and creativity, do not invite you to rethink power relations in a constructive and ethical way, do not involve learning, and do not help you build social and political alliances at a time when we are all served up and pitted against each other as market segments.

Living with individualism: “this storm we call progress”.[lxviii]

Ours is the era of unadulterated individualism and the search for the good life, limited solely by the                          demand for tolerance (when coupled with self-celebratory and scruple-free individualism, tolerance may only express itself as indifference).[lxix] Emphasis added.

Here, Bauman evokes the consequences of the economic and political changes producing what he referred to as postmodern ethics (in 1993), involving “the substitution of aesthetics for ethics”,[lxx] in what would prove to be in the years since, an overwhelming market driver for neoliberal economies

Jacques Peretti’s recent TV series, The Men Who Made Us Spend,[lxxii] serves as a reminder of just how extreme and shocking the facts of this turbo consumerist reality are in 2014, how we got here, and the severity of the consequences for both the natural world and for us humans, including children. He mixes stats with interviews with the leading men in this ‘drama’, together with experiential evidence of the visible, social and psychological consequences, for example, built-in obsolescence and disposability, ill health, obesity, poverty. Peretti’s investigative programmes invite us to reflect on what kind of society we are now as a consequence of the hyper capitalism of the neoliberal years, and at what cost has this been achieved. Again, Bauman is relevant here:

Modernity prides itself on the fragmentation of the world as its foremost achievement. Fragmentation is the prime source of its strength. The world that falls apart into plethora of problems is a manageable world.[lxxiii]

Fragmentation means: markets / market segments / ‘choice’ / brands / individualism, managerialism, manipulation and growth via outsourcing and privatization. Excess and surfeit. As Peretti’s investigations show, marketing strategies seek to coerce, seduce and determine: their familiar purpose is to sell us something we didn’t know we wanted or needed, and can’t afford; as well as routinely inculcating fear, shame, stigma, and a general sense of deficit.[lxxiv]

But marketing has also become content, not just the means by which a product is promoted and sold. Perhaps the most disturbing of these investigations is the last, in which Peretti tracks how children have been first targeted, then marketised since the 1980s through the promotion of toys and games, most crucially via the creation of brands; and how adults have been deliberately infantilised, to accentuate, for example, emotionality, impulsivity, instant gratification, greed and disposability, as ‘autonomy’, ‘self-determination’, ‘modernity’. Has ‘femininity’ become the emblematic neoliberal/consumerist identity, posture and target?

These neoliberal years have realised Bauman’s early analysis in spades. At the same time, public communication has been corrupted, media relations and trust in public figures (including scientists) are at an all time low. The sense of manipulation and exploitation for excessive profit by the top 1% (?), to increase sales and market share, is familiar to consumers, and as a consequence, neoliberal values and coercions have become normalised, uncontested, overpowering. It is clear that consumerism stands in the way of sustainability and low carbon practices.

As a consequence, the fact that the neoliberal emphasis on deregulation and growth at all costs was instrumental in bringing societies and the natural world to this cliff edge can be overlooked. North & Barker found that since the downturn in 2008, for some of their interviewees in SMEs and social enterprises in Liverpool city region, “growth is the overwhelming priority. This is mistaken.”[lxxv] Likewise, French economist, Thomas Piketty’s “utter failure to take seriously the ecological limits to growth”[lxxvi] in his study of wealth and income inequality in Europe and the US since the C18, reflects the reflex of conventional European economists inside their free market, neoliberal box:[lxxvii]

A central component of Piketty’s answer to the crisis is: more of the same. More growth, the                                         proceeds of which can then allegedly be “redistributed”. The truth, however, is that growth is an                          alternative to egalitarian redistribution, an alternative to any serious effort to create a more equal society. The promise of growth is a replacement for the need to share.[lxxviii] Emphasis added.

Learning from the social and environmental disasters of the neoliberal years is vital for survival, sustainability and social justice (including a new economics and new business models[lxxix]), as a recent harrowing example demonstrates.

The common story is one of female emancipation turned horrifically sour in light of corruption and bad governance, multiplied by western corporate and consumer greed.

After the multi-storey Rana Plaza clothes factory in Bangladesh collapsed in 2013, killing 1129 and injuring 2,515 (mainly women), a previously ambitious young manager, with his mind set on getting rich and buying an expensive fast car, found himself utterly changed by the experience. As a result, he set up a co-operative in a single storey building (as one of his women workers said, “nothing above or below”), with an emphasis on high standards of health and safety, respectful relations with his co-workers, and decent pay.

The clothing industry in Bangladesh had been central to economic expansion and jobs for people who moved into the city from their villages, especially girls and women. This new co-op aims to show that together, workers and managers can retain and develop the industry, which supplies exclusively to western countries, while upholding human rights standards and ethical practices in the workplace; what we might call industrial decency. Leaving behind avoidable risks and exploitative industrial practices that dehumanize workers in the rush towards dominance, inequality and profit, creates a more sustainable working environment.[lxxx] Kinder all round.

Lessons here for UK business and industry too.[lxxxi] Citing a range of international, cross cultural examples, economist Ha-Joon Chang makes the case for change: “End this privatization dogma: public ownership is better”.[lxxxii] Economists, Professors Mariana Mazzucato and Carlota Perez, are also making significant contributions to the debate about the relationship between public and private sector policy and practice, specifically in terms of economic growth that is not only ‘smart’ but also inclusive and sustainable.[lxxxiii]

New Internationalist, an award-winning, not-for-profit publisher, and “one of the most trusted publications reporting on poverty and inequality”[lxxxiv] for the last 40 years, provides another relevant case study:

The publisher switched to a co-operative a few years after it had been created, once the employees                         realized they should be practising what they preached. . . . .

Becoming an equal pay co-operative was a difficult decision to take, explains James Rowland [a                                                       member since 1985], as the highest paid had their salaries frozen so that the others could catch up.                                     Ever since, all decisions have been taken collectively, between the 18 members of the worker co-                            op.[lxxxv]

Quality of place: harbour/port; home/springboard; sanctuary/hive; childhood/livelihood.

These are not binary distinctions, but connected ‘places’: emotional, social, economic, imaginative, metaphorical, psychological and physical. Cities are variously viewed as toxic or as hubs of creative entrepreneurial flair.[lxxxvi] Economist, Professor Henry Overman, on a recent visit to Liverpool, took the latter view,[lxxxvii] declaring that cities attract the best people, the biggest talent. Full stop. He clearly meant people like himself, who, he said, grew up in Folkstone, got out, and now lives and works very happily in London as an academic. This stance is a function of the values and politics he has forged on his own auto/biographical journey from childhood to ‘manhood’.

South Korean, Cambridge economist, Ha-Joon Chang, however, notes the realities of unemployment for those not like himself, such as the men represented in the film, The Full Monty (1997):

The point is that workers cannot freely move across different jobs, because their experience is specific to their line of work – there are few skills that are equally valuable in all industries. The alternative that most unemployed workers face is to get a new job that does not require much skill – in this case stripping – that pays far less.[lxxxviii]

Overman’s social, economic and professional trajectory is clearly not the norm or even common, especially for industrial workers, and not least in the context of Austerity and cut-throat neoliberalism since 2010. Also countering happy-go-lucky neoliberal individualism and the narrative of associated upward mobility,[lxxxix] economist Paul Mason discusses the joys of the film Some Like It Hot (1959), but also applauds it as a warning:

The movie was made by people who remembered the Depression, so for all its crazy humour it is also a sombre lesson in the futility of boom-time societies in which the sources of income are gambling, speculation and casual sex, but never actual work for wages and production.[xc] Emphasis added.

In the aftermath of Liverpool’s European City of Culture year in 2008, these are real local risks, as tourism has moved up the City’s agenda. North & Barker note how Liverpool has begun to embrace urban theorist, Richard Florida’s [xci] agenda to some extent: aiming to attract knowledge workers and tourists with the increasing emphasis on fun and games and entertainment, cafés, coffee shops, restaurants, cultural and tourist attractions, etc.. (The expanding sex industry in the City will be another feature of this liberated ‘fun city’.) This risks being an address mainly directed at the already affluent, whatever their age, nationality or culture; and in Liverpool, those who are affluent and mobile are still overwhelmingly white and male.

By contrast, George Monbiot has identified the plight and needs of children in our society and in our cities as a modern crisis:

The collapse of children’s engagement with nature has been even faster than the collapse of the natural world. In the turning of one generation, the outdoor life in which many of us were immersed has gone.[xcii]

Enclosure, accompanied by a rapid replacement of the commoners’ polyculture with a landlord’s                                                 monoculture, destroyed much of what made the land delightful to children. . . . and banned them from what it failed to destroy.[xciii]

       The commons belonged, inasmuch as they belonged to anyone, to children.[xciv]

This is a memory and vision of the natural world as a site of surprise and adventure, of wild play, and benefits that may extend beyond the physical. Some studies appear to link a lack of contact with the natural world to an increase in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder” (ADHD),[xcv] and other studies suggest the benefits of playing out of doors, especially among trees and grass. Monbiot says he would like to see every school take its pupils, for one afternoon a week, to run wild in the woods.[xcvi] But there are not enough woods, so he asks: “Could every new housing development include some self-willed land in which children can freely play?”[xcvii] In 2009 The Cambridge Primary Review found that:

Pessimism turned to hope when witnesses felt they had the power to act. Thus the children who were most confident that climate change might not overwhelm them were those whose schools had decided to replace unfocused fear with factual information and practical strategies for energy reduction and sustainability.[xcviii]

How can we provide this combination for adults in the city region?


But can children in the City of Liverpool compete for attention and resources on the neoliberal playing field, with its profit-driven, marketised economy, focusing more and more on the adult interests of knowledge workers, tourists, visitors, and business and industry? Monbiot’s evidence suggests that children are merely the canaries in the mine; but very profitable canaries, as Peretti’s investigation shows.


Monbiot’s concerns conjure the vision of a city as sanctuary and solace, rather than emotional and sensuous ‘desert’, pressure cooker or threat. Shared green public spaces, allotments and gardens all have a role to play in this greening of our City, a process that is a far cry from the consumerism and control of the neoliberal engine, which prefers to license for-profit ventures for passing strangers. Might there be opportunities within the more devolutionary process that lies ahead, (post Scotland’s referendum on independence, and post the 2015 UK General Election) for metropolitan areas and urban local authorities to creatively develop economic / community / environmental strategies responsive and tailored to the needs of different local ‘places’, allowing distinctiveness within the overall umbrella of Liverpool city region, rather than top-down control?


The latest developments in Liverpool city centre highlight the serious contradiction at the heart of the sustainability project. North & Barker ponder the possibility / desirability of developing Dale and Renshaw Streets as “new quarters”, “as a significant driver of jobs and businesses, and improv(ing) the city visitor’s offer”,[xcix] in particular for “a more up-market clientele”, even if “pioneered by social enterprises”.[c] Such a development would attend to the desires of those already part of the mix, part of the city centre ‘success story’, including the researchers themselves and members of the Commission. This direction of travel therefore risks abandoning one of North & Barker’s key findings:


Low carbon restructuring must combine economic competitiveness with social inclusion to ensure that all of the city’s residents are able to take advantage of the opportunities generated.[ci] Emphasis added.


This requires concerted action, a proper plan. Peter Harper suggests that inverted tariffs, the opposite of the way bills normally work, could be used to alleviate the burden of decarbonisation on poorer households:[cii]


It is possible to provide a basic energy tariff very cheaply up to a particular level as a citizen’s right, after which the normal tariff applies for a while, and beyond that it becomes much more expensive.[ciii]

Harper counters the expected objections that this would ‘distort the markets’, and that it would need government intervention to make it happen:

But something of the kind will be needed to reconcile decarbonisation with social justice, and tariffs can be designed to incentivize both efficiency and frugality.[civ] Emphasis added.

This signals the line in the sand.


Similarly, North & Barker’s chapter 6, ‘The potential for low carbon forms of development to connect to socially excluded communities’,[cv] [emphasis added], implicitly acknowledges that there are structural forces at work. In chapter 8: ‘Towards a low carbon 2050 – what is, and isn’t realistic?’ they return to this issue with a biting quote:


Communities with reduced aspirations for what they can achieve, poor local leadership, a reputation that means others avoid them, and poor connections to the rest of the city, are a problem for the city as a whole.[cvi]


While there is evidence to support such a general statement, this is definitely a speaking about and not by, and as a verdict it flies very close to demonising disadvantaged populations as to blame for their own history and circumstances. The history of poverty, social class disadvantage and division in Liverpool is longstanding, extreme, entrenched, and apparently accepted, perhaps because historically those in power and control did not see it as a/their problem; and those affected by it were too ground down and demoralised, too bereft of social and cultural capital, economic resources, hope and status, to organise collectively to challenge and change their situation. But as North and Barker rightly judge, alluding to a more sinister agenda and scenario:


They cannot be just ignored and policed into quiescence, with the focus being overwhelmingly on                            growth-creating sectors.[cvii]

This could be the most telling sentence in their report: a warning shot across the bows of ‘polite’ and indifferent society, and the neoliberal project. Sandel summarises:


The economistic view of virtue fuels the faith in markets and propels their reach into places they don’t belong. . . . . Altruism, generosity, solidarity, and civic spirit are not like commodities that are depleted with use. They are more like muscles that develop and grow stronger with exercise. One of the defects of a market-driven society is that it lets these virtues languish. To renew our public life we need to exercise them more strenuously.[cviii]


Sustainability can be understood as the maintaining of non market values for living and loving, organizing and making, working and playing.


The bridge from destitution, despair and social isolation (from Otherness and subhuman status) is, apart from loving relationships, via the transformatory impact of good quality education, experiential learning, training and the sociability that accompanies these, and lives lived in the context of decent affordable homes, quality neighbourhoods, human dignity and sustaining and sustainable livelihoods.[cix] These are not technical tick-boxes, but in reality a function of the degree and intensity of inequality in a society, in particular the economic and social distance between those at the top and those at the bottom.[cx] Sustainability is unachievable without addressing this disparity and injustice. Key changes/improvements have to be designed in, not left to chance, then monitored and adapted.[cxi]


The course changed my life completely. I now have skills in something very different from what I did before, and a completely new group of friends. I’m now self-employed, refurbishing residential                                               property to low energy standards and advising others who want to do the same.[cxii]

This is the experience of one person, another CAT graduate (male), but it also points to what is missing in Liverpool: the mighty scale of the social, educational and cultural deficit, and the urgency of the challenge ahead. Sustainability is about lives worth living, not just economics, technical fixes or the natural world. Our response cannot be piecemeal, inept or grudging.


In conclusion.
The process of reflecting on the nature of the challenge of achieving a more sustainable city region has brought into focus four key theoretical, political and practical challenges; not a list to be worked through, but a conjunction to be acknowledged and worked with:

  • the problem of markets and marketization, and how these build in inequality / disadvantage / unfairness, exploitation, and the potential for corruption (in both senses discussed by Sandel, 2012)
  • power and its exercise: power differentials, the equitable distribution of power; the need to resist and mitigate the consequences of dichotomy and fragmentation, for example via non hierarchical relations and organisation
  • casualties: the natural world (including the air we breathe), children, communities and individuals (including those disenabled by age, disability, ill health, unemployment, loss and poverty, as well as prejudice, stigma and abuse); those marginalized and/or exploited by power
  • non market values: how sustainability process is necessarily a social, political, cultural, economic and technological project that uniquely(?) respects, protects and promotes the role of non market values in lives and societies, for example by encouraging awareness and caution regarding individualism and growth as unaccountable, duel virtues and drivers of markets and marketization, in the headlong rush towards greater inequality, inequity and social injustice. Avoidable pain, suffering, damage: ruin. A human rights perspective similarly encompasses and activates non market values.

val walsh / 12 08 2014

[i] Val Walsh is a longstanding member of LFoE and CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology; LWN (Liverpool Women’s Network); and MWM (Merseyside Women’s Movement). In February 2014 she became a founding member of the planning team for MPHA (Merseyside People’s Health Assembly), part of the (international) People’s Health Movement. She is an academic writer, journalist and poet.

[ii] Walter Benjamin (1979) Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn: 260, cited Zygmunt Bauman (1991) Modernity and Ambivalence: 11.

[iii] Pete North & Tom Barker, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool (2011) Building the Low Carbon Economy on Merseyside: future proofing the city for future climate and fuel price uncertainty. In association with The University of Liverpool, Liverpool Vision, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, Groundwork Merseyside & ESRC: 24.

[iv] William Lazonick & Mariana Mazzucatto (2013) The risk-reward nexus in the innovation-inequality relationship: who takes the risks? Who gets the rewards? Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 22, Number 4: 1094.

[v] Ibid.: 1111.

[vi] Ibid.: 1095.

[vii] Michael Sandel (2012) What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets: 110.

[viii] Ibid.: 112.

[ix] The European Institute for Gender Equality [EIGE], Director, Virginija Langbakk (2013) Gender Equality Index: Main Findings: 6.

[x] Ibid.: 24.

[xi] Ibid.: 25.

[xii] A public meeting organized by the Heseltine Institute, University of Liverpool, as one of its Policy Provocations series, reproduced this all-too-familiar pattern: a panel of 3 men + male Chair. At least The Guardian’s senior economic editor, Aditya Chakrabortty, was one of the panel, which is why I attended. See footnote lxxxvii below.

[xiii] Alison Gilchrist (27 06 2014) Community development in helping to reshape the relationship between the community sector and mental health services. INTAR (International Network Toward Alternatives and Recovery) conference plenary. The University of Liverpool.

[xiv] The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability: “Feasta (pronounced fasta) is taken from an old Irish poem which laments the decimation of the forests. It means ‘in the future’ and Feasta sees itself as a collective thinking process about that future. It is a leading international think-tank exploring the interactions between human welfare, the structure and operation of human systems, and the ecosystem which supports both. The Risk/Resilience Network is an initiative established in order to understand energy-induced systemic risk, the scope for risk management, and general and emergency planning. It is a network where those persons and organisations with interest in the area can learn from each other and engage with practical solutions.” Emphasis added to highlight its relevance to the concerns of this paper and Liverpool’s sustainability project. Feasta is based in Dublin. http://www.feasta.org

[xv] Lazonick (2010) The Chandlerian corporation and the theory of innovative enterprise. Industrial and Corporate Change, 19 (2), 317-349, cited Lazonick & Mazzucato (2013): 1097.

[xvi] Lazonick & Mazzucato, ibid: 1099.

[xvii] Ibid..

[xviii] Ibid.: 1103.

[xix] Lazonick, (2003, 2011) The Theory of the Market Economy and the Social Foundations of Innovative Enterprise , Economic and industrial Democracy, 24 (1), 9-44, cited Lazonick & Mazzucato (2013): 1105.

[xx] Ibid..

[xxi] Marianne Schulze, Australian-Austrian human rights advocate (25 06 2014) ‘Human rights and mental health’. Plenary, INTAR conference, ibid.

[xxii] Ibid..

[xxiii] Ibid..

[xxiv] Ibid..

[xxv] Ibid..

[xxvi] Climate Justice Briefs 12. (November 2010) Human rights and climate justice. Cancún

[xxvii] Climate Justice Briefs 13 (November 2010) Gender and climate change. Cancún.

[xxviii] Allan Shepherd (Spring 2013) Offshoots: life after CAT! Clean Slate, No.91: 11.

[xxix] Harry Gijbels & Lydia Sapouna, University College Cork (26 06 2014) ‘Critical Voices Networks in mental health: opportunities and challenges’. INTAR conference .

[xxx] Ibid..

[xxxi] Ibid..

[xxxii] Vicky Pryce (16 07 2014) ‘Flickonomics.’ Erin Brockovich (2000): how to measure environmental cost. The Guardian.

[xxxiii] Tom Barker (Spring 2013) Tree-hugging number crunchers. Clean Slate, No.91: 21.

[xxxiv] Tim Gee (2014) From impossible to inevitable: making change happen. Clean Slate No 92: 24-25. See also Tim Gee (2011) Counterpower: Making Change Happen. New Internationalist.

[xxxv] Andrew Price cited Clean Slate; The Practical Journal of Sustainable Living. No 92 Summer 2014: 25.

[xxxvi] Paul Allen, External Relations Department, CAT (Autumn 2012) Editorial. 40 years of ‘alternative technology’. Clean Slate, No 85: 3.

[xxxvii] George Marshall (Autumn 2012) Why we find it so hard to act against climate change. Clean Slate, No.85: 26. Marshall’s article provides a useful analysis of ‘what we do’, ‘why we do it,’ and ‘what we do about it’, with regard to attitudes, beliefs and actions: 26-28.

[xxxviii] Ibid.: 27.

[xxxix] Zygmunt Bauman (1991) Modernity and Ambivalence: 14.

[xl] Marshall (2012): 27.

[xli] Ibid..

[xlii] Stockholm Resilience Centre (27 03 2013) Redefining sustainable development. Available online.

[xliii] Andrew Simms (2013) Cancel the Apocalypse: The New Path to Prosperity brings together existing examples of progressive, eco-aware practices to provide the materials for a mind reset on the part of his readers. Simms’ earlier book (2005, 2009) Ecological Debt: Global Warming and the Wealth of Nations set out the environmental / ethical / political crisis created by western dominance and economics, and “the steps we can take to stop pushing the planet to the point of environmental bankruptcy”.

[xliv] Susan George (2010) Whose Crisis, Whose Future? Towards a Greener, Fairer, Richer World “explains with great clarity the forces that oppress us, the choices that face us and the action that needs to be taken. Please read this book: it will equip you better than any other to confront the injustices of a world run for the benefit of a tiny elite” (George Monbiot). Susan George spoke to a well attended, appreciative COMPASS meeting in Liverpool on 17 03 2011.

[xlv] Peter Harper (2014) Living day to day, the ZCB way. Clean Slate, ibid.: 28.

[xlvi] CAT’s (2010) Zero Carbon Britain. A New Energy Strategy must count as the gold standard for reference for cities and governments. See zerocarbonbritain2030 and http://www.zerocarbonbritain.org

[xlvii] North & Barker (2011): 55.

[xlviii] Ibid..: 103.

[xlix] Ibid.: 73.

[l] See Adrian Ramsay (Spring 2013) Crucial carbon target dropped from Energy Bill. Clean Slate No 87: 12-13.

[li] George Marshall (Autumn 2012): 27.

[lii] Barker (Spring 2013): 20.

[liii] Tony Travers, LSE & Political Science & Mark Watts, Director of Arup (2009) Cutting Carbon Locally – and How To Pay For It. How to get serious about climate change.

[liv] See Richard Rogers (02 12 2006) How to build intelligent suburbs. The Guardian. And Rogers (15 07 2014) Forget about greenfield sites, build in the cities. The Guardian.

[lv] Danielle Paffard (Summer 2014) Divestment: the route to a win on climate change? Clear Slate. No 92: 27. Danielle is the UK Divestment Campaigner for 350.org. The Mayor’s recent decision to authorise fracking in/under the city region is a serious cause for concern, both environmentally and democratically.

[lvi] See Ranyl Rhydwen, Senior Lecturer in environment & sustainability for the Graduate School of the Environment at CAT (Summer 2014) Should adaptation be the talk of the town? Clean Slate. No 92: 20-21. For references: ranyl.rhydwen@cat.org.uk

[lvii] Ibid.: 21. See also Ranyl Rhydwen (Spring 2013) Transformational adaptation: a time for big changes. Clean Slate, No 91: 12-15.

[lviii] Allan Shepherd (Spring 2013) Community case study: where low carbon homes meet social innovation. Clean Slate No.87: 20-21.

[lix] Sandel (2012): 84.

[lx] Ibid.: 91.

[lxi] Ibid.: 88.

[lxii] Ibid.: 113.

[lxiii] Ibid.: 89.

[lxiv] See for example, Paul Allen interviews Tony Juniper (Spring 2013) What price nature? Clean Slate, No 91: 32-33.

[lxv] George Monbiot (17 06 2014) Saving the world should be based on promise, not fear. The Guardian.

[lxvi] Ibid..

[lxvii] Ibid..

[lxviii] Walter Benjamin (1979) Illuminations, trans. Harry Zahn: 260, cited Bauman (1991) Modernity and Ambivalence: 11.

[lxix] Zigmunt Bauman (1993) Postmodern Ethics: 2/3.

[lxx] Ibid.: 2.

[lxxi] A jaw-dropping, double spread, full colour photograph of Lucy Neath, a girl of 12, lying down surrounded by her record-breaking collection of merchandise for the online children’s game Moshi Monsters exemplifies this phenomenon. She has more than 1900 items. She is visibly very happy and smiling. Photograph, Paul /Michael Hughes/SWNS.com The Guardian (31 07 2014): 18/19. Individualism, consumerism, marketization of childhood, where do we start?

[lxxii] See Jacques Peretti (12, 17, 24 07 2014) The Men Who Made Us Spend. BBC2.

[lxxiii] Bauman (1991): 12.

[lxxiv] See Peretti (12, 17, 24 07 2014).

[lxxv] North & Barker, ibid.: 27.

[lxxvi] Dr Rupert Read, University of East Anglia, Norwich (01 08 2014) Constant growth can only make most of us poorer. Guardian letter.

[lxxvii] See Thomas Piketty (2014) Capital in the 21st Century.

[lxxviii] Read (01 08 2014).

[lxxix] See the work of economists, Professor Mariana Mazzucato, Sussex University & Professor Carlota Perez, LSE, challenging the freemarket model, cited Paul Mason (28 07 2014) History tells us that the best innovations happen when the state gets involved. The Guardian G2: 5. And Mazzucato (2010) The Entrepreneurial State. Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths.

[lxxx] See BBC2 (21 07 2014) Clothes to Die For. Stories of the people who survived the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka.

[lxxxi] The co-operative movement has long embodied distinctive values as a basis for fair and sustainable organisations and businesses. See for example: ‘Worker co-operatives help connect the people’ The Phone Co-op celebrates its 15th birthday in 2013. Co-operative News. The voice of the co-op and mutual sectors: 8. ‘Retail co-operatives spread the word across the UK’. Ibid.: 9. ‘New Internationalist – a trusted co-op for 40 years’. Ibid: 15.

[lxxxii] Ha-Joon Chang (01 08 2014) End this privatisation dogma: public ownership is better. The Guardian: 36. See also Ha-Joon Chang (2014) Economics: A Handbook.

[lxxxiii] See Mariana Mazzucato (2010) The Entrepreneurial State. Debunking Public vs Private Sector Myths.

[lxxxiv] (18 06 2013) New Internationalist: a trusted co-op for 40 years. The voice of the co-op and mutual sectors: 15.

[lxxxv] Ibid..

[lxxxvi] See Richard Florida (2004) The Rise of the Creative Class. And how it is transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life.

              [lxxxvii] Speaking in Liverpool (17 07 20140) on an all male panel at a public meeting organised by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine institute, to                                 discuss ‘Capital Punishment: Is London too big and is it holding the UK back?’ Maritime Museum, Albert Dock, Liverpool.

[lxxxviii] Ha-Joon Chang (16 07 2014) ‘Flickonomics.’ The Full Monty (1997): the reality of unemployment. The Guardian: 11.

[lxxxix] See also the regular journalism of senior economics editor, Aditya Chakrabortty in The Guardian.

[xc] Paul Mason (16 07 2014) ‘Flickonomics.’ Some Like It Hot (1959): the trouble with rentier capitalism. The Guardian: 9.

[xci] Richard Florida cited North & Barker: 74.

[xcii] Monbiot (2014) Feral: 167.

[xciii] Ibid.: 168.

[xciv] Ibid..

[xcv] Richard Louv (2009) Last Child in the Woods, cited Monbiot (2014) Feral: 169.

[xcvi] Monbiot (2014) Feral: 170.

[xcvii] Ibid..

[xcviii] Julie Bromilow (Autumn 2012) Knowledge capture and storage: education for sustainability the CAT way. Clean Slate, No 85: 31.

[xcix] North & Barker (2014): 74.

[c] Ibid.: 75.

[ci] Ibid.: 7.

[cii] Peter Harper (Summer 2014) Living day to day, the ZCB way. Clean Slate, No 92: 29.

[ciii] Ibid..

[civ] Ibid..

[cv] North & Barker: 77.

[cvi] E Cox & K Schumuecker (2010) Rebalancing Local Economies: widening economic opportunites for people in deprived communities. Cited North & Barker: 93.

[cvii] North & Barker: 93.

[cviii] Sandel (2012): 130.

[cix] See Val Walsh (23 12 2013) ‘Credible Witness: Hearing, listening, believing, learning from ‘victim /perpetrator’ voices and behaviour.’ Conference paper, BSA Study Group on Auto/Biography conference, Epiphanies. British Museum conference centre. And Val Walsh (15 01 2014) ‘Picking up the pieces: men and masculinity in an outsourced world.’ Critical Research Seminar Series (CCSE) 2013/2014, Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation & Social Exclusion, LJMU. See conference presentations 2014: togetherfornow.wordpress.com

[cx] See Richard Wilkinson & Kate Pickett (2010) The Spirit Level. Also Danny Dorling (2011) Injustice: Why Social Inequality Persists. And Thomas Piketty (2014) Capital in the 21st Century.

[cxi] “Ideas for co-ops may flourish, but few people understand exactly how to make theirs real. The Co-operative Academy is providing answers. Founded in 2009 by Omar Freilla, the academy runs 16-week courses that offer intensive mentoring, legal and financial advice, and help designing logos and websites.” Yes Magazine, s.coop/1kp0c. (May 21- June 4 2013) Co-operative News, ibid.: 22.

[cxii] CAT graduate Andrew Gill (Summer 2014) Clean Slate: 35.