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1 A 2016 report by the Sutton Trust, an organisation working in social mobility and education, contains similar statistics and conclusions, and covers a wider range of leading professions (See Kirby, 2016).

2 Members of the white working class, having far less access to positions of power within leading public bodies and institutions, have very limited ability to change systems that are controlled by the elite and are implicitly racist. For example, disproportionate levels of stop and search by the police, six times higher for a black man than for a white man (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2010).

3 It should be noted that not every member of this group will end up controlling leading public bodies and institutions. Rather, this thesis works on the premise that this 7 percent of the population have far greater access to these opportunities than those from low-income groups. In addition, this thesis accepts that people from low-income and marginalised groups can also access and gain positions of control in leading public bodies and institutions, but at a much lower ratio than those in the 7 percent of independently educated people.

4 In general, white ethnicity is theorised through the prism of power and privilege over other ethnic groups (Webster, 2008, p294). However, this fails to take into account how ‘groups that are ostensibly ‘white’ can…also be racialized in majority white countries. In the British context, this has historically included Jews, the Irish Catholics and other Eastern European migrants’ (Garner, 2009, p48).


5 Discussed in more detail later.

6 Especially true in how the same media and political outlets tend to ignore inner-city school success stories. See Crane, 2013 for a rare article that focuses on the successes of Tower Hamlets’ schools rather than their failures.

7 The Young, Gifted and Talented Programme was a Government scheme that ran from 2002 to 2010 and aimed to enhance educational development for pupils in state schools. However, according to Lee Elliot Major, director of research at the Sutton Trust, ‘in our research, we've found that few children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds were identified as gifted and talented’ (Major cited in Murray, 2010).


8 Tower Hamlets in the 1980s and 90s also forms part of the backdrop to Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003) which will be discussed in the following chapters.

9 It’s important to note that Everitt had never been accused of racially motivated verbal or physical abuse against the Bangladeshi community. He was targeted in an unmotivated racial attack because he was white and not because of any prior altercation with any member of the Bangladeshi community (Spalek, 2008).

10 A case in point is the ex-mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who, according to the deputy High Court judge, Richard Mawrey, secured immigrant and minority ethnic groups’ votes by using perceived white working-class support for the BNP and the English Defence League (EDL) as ‘a very useful bogeyman with which to affright the citizens, especially the non-white citizens, of Tower Hamlets’ (Mawrey, 2015 cited in El-Enany, 2015).

11 A case in point is The Sun newspaper’s front page headline that stated ‘1 in 5 Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis’ (23rd November 2015), which was based on a biased questionnaire and a misinterpretation of the data. The Sun’s findings have since been widely condemned as inaccurate and a misrepresentation of British Muslims’ opinions (See Stone, 2015 for further discussion).

12 Out of a 34.7 percent turnout (European Parliament, 2014).

13 Under the then leadership of Tony Blair the Labour Party changed Clause IV of their constitution in 1995, which had the effect of moving the party away from their socialist, nationalising origins to a more centre-left position.

14 Chapter Two discusses these same tropes of working-class representation and how they are used in narrative literature.

15 On the 16th August 1819 in Manchester, local magistrates ordered military cavalry to charge a crowd of protesters, who were demanding reform to disproportionate parliamentary representation.


16 This thesis focuses on the traditional, and still dominant forms, of access to market (agents, publishing houses, book shops) rather than more modern forms such as self-publishing online.

17 Education Act 1944; The Beveridge Report 1942 that led to the National Insurance Act 1946, National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946 and the National Assistance Act 1948; The formation of the NHS in 1948 as a result of the National Health Service Act 1946.


18 There is not the scope for a full survey in this thesis so only a few select examples will be briefly discussed. For further reading see Orwell, 1968; Carey, 1992; Mount, 2004; Tew, 2007; Bentley, 2008; Jameson, 2010.

19 As Peter Keating suggests in The Haunted Study, ‘the dominant focus of late Victorian working-class fiction was the undifferentiated mass of the urban poor, typified by the image of the dreary monotonous wasteland of the East End of London that…[by] 1894 the familiarity of London’s East End as a shorthand identification for the working class was such that it had obliterated all other areas of working-class life’ (Keating, 1989, p314).

20 Demos was first published in 1986 and tells the story of the lower-class Richard Mutimer, who unexpectedly receives a large inheritance and uses it to found a socialist factory and movement. He is eventually killed by his own followers.

21 In a similar vein to Iris Murdoch’s purported socialism, Martin Amis has been labelled a ‘left-wing author’ by The Independent (Mortimer, 2015) and ‘a leading figure on the British left for three decades’ by The Sunday Times (Shipman and Lyons, 2015).

22 For further examples of feedback loops between Amis’s work and that of mainstream media, see Lionel Asbo by Amis, 2012.

23 In a Distant Shore, Phillips works consciously to interrogate and juxtapose representational codes and as such the novel requires further analysis that goes beyond the scope of this thesis. However, Phillips’s portrayal of the sink estate per se is not challenged. The reference to the South African executive capital, Pretoria, most likely works to question the historical legacy of racial segregation in the United Kingdom, rather than as an interrogation of representations of poverty and low-income environments.

24 It is worth noting that Kureishi does consistently uses irony to expose middle-class desire for authenticity in the other. One example can be seen in the Scottish working-class character, Heater, who is constantly asked to repeat stories about working-class violence even though he himself would prefer to discuss literature or philosophy. However, Kureishi still associates violent racism with the white working-class community, locating it in areas of poverty, yet never questions the underlying reasons for this aggression, or if it is truly representative of all white working-class people.

25 As suggested at the beginning of this chapter, literary fiction’s traditional status as a medium of the elite has permeated through to contemporary society where the assumed readership of the publishing houses is that of middle- and upper-class groups who will recognise and relate to the representational codes embedded in the texts. This may change with the advent of the internet and opportunities for self-publishing, but at the time of writing, the major publishing houses are still in the majority control of independently educated, white middle- and upper-class elites.

26 The Sutton Trust is an organisation that works for social mobility through combatting educational inequality. The Rowntree Foundation is an organisation that works to eradicate poverty and inequality.

27 In Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (2009), Mieke Bal describes focalisation as ‘the relation between the vision and that which is ‘seen’,’ (pp143-144). It is ‘the layer between the linguistic text and the fabula...The subject of focalisation, the focalisor, is the point from which the elements are viewed. That point can lie with a character (i.e. an element of the fabula), or outside it’ (p149).

28 For an overview of studies that link research into narrative to that of psychological and neuroscience work language processing and comprehension see Sanford and Emmot’s (2012), Mind, Brain and Narrative.

29 The distinction between third- and first-person narration as described by van Peer and Pander Maat (1996): ‘Whether a character speaks in his or her own name, as I-person, or is introduced as a ‘he’ or ‘she,’ whose words and thoughts are ‘quoted’ directly or indirectly [third-person], rather than rendered ‘immediately’ [first-person narration]…is something that emanates clearly and immediately from the surface structure of the text’ (van Peer and Pander Maat, 1996, p144; See also Chatman, 1980;) Schlenker, 2004; Bal, 2009).

30 In his article on the dual-voice of free indirect discourse, Joe Bray (2007) cites Pascal’s (1977) claim that the dual-voice of free indirect discourse subtly fuses the two voices of character and narrator though structure, lexis and intonation.


31 Bal (2009) sets out a series of characteristics to define free indirect discourse: ‘Indirect discourse is narrated at a higher level than the level at which the words in the fabula are supposed to have been spoken…The words of the actor appear to have been rendered with maximum precision and elaboration…’ (p54). He goes onto suggest that free indirect discourse is differentiated from the ‘narrator’s text when there are positive indications that there is indeed representation of words of an actor. Such indications are: 1 The signals of a personal language situation, referring to an actor.

2 A striking personal style, attributable to an actor.



3 More details about what has been said than is necessary for the course of the fabula’ (Bal, 2009, pp54-55; See also Schlenker, 2004 for a more in depth discussion of free indirect discourse).


32 The working-class character Keith Talent in Martin Amis’s London Fields (1989) would be an example. See Chapter Two for further discussion.

33 In 2016, New Zealand banned zero-hour contracts in their Employment Standards Legislation Bill, labelling them as an unfair employment practice (See Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2016).

34 This thesis focuses particularly on London and the South East of England in general, where there is a distinct lack of (white) working-class writers and novels, as opposed to the North of the UK where the voices of the (white) working class are represented by writers such as James Kelman, Irvine Welsh, Alan Sillitoe and Barry Hines (Lott, 2015).

35 See Garner and Bhattacharyya, 2011.

36 White City Blue (1999) and Rumours of a Hurricane (2002).



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