Phase 1 (6 months)
Within the four communities we will map the shifts and structural changes in public and free community provision in the target neighbourhoods brought about by austerity. The focus will be museums, public libraries, youth clubs and publicly funded open ground, including parks and playing fields.
The mapping of neighbourhood data, which will be obtained through a mixture of documentary analysis and local interviews, will be visually presented using neighbourhood ‘cultural mapping’ (see for example World Bank Poverty Mapping) with a clear commentary on what the mapping reveals.
We will use this approach to inform the shape and focus of the data collection in the second phase.
Phase 2 (6 months)
This phase will take the form of family and service/neighbourhood case studies set in the same communities as Phase 1. Using a purposeful sample approach we will select 6 low income families with under 5s from each of the four urban communities.
Selection of families will be based on cultural and family diversity where low income will be a key factor.
Working with these participants using life story techniques (Miller, 2000) we will cultivate a generational perspective through family group and one to one conversations, illuminative portraits and vignettes, looking in particular for historical narratives around what has existed, what exists now and what the consequences of changes might be for their family learning experiences and consequently children’s futures.
We will consider the impact of austerity on those most dependent on public spaces where the potential to foster informal family learning may have been lost and social and cultural impoverishment may have followed.
Within this phase we will also work with existing community workers and cultural/arts based services in each ward to explore and document through focused interviews their experiences of austerity on their services, highlighting in particular, examples of positive, enriching and creative responses to the impact of austerity on publicly funded community learning spaces and other environmentally based opportunities linked to informal family learning.
We will interpret the data by looking for key themes and ideas of both loss and hope for the future.