This chapter examines the impact of changing labour markets and social policies on the life chances and working lives of a group of economically marginal individuals, on the locality that they inhabit, and on their social relations. It explores ‘adaptive reactions’ of residents of one largely white, working-class housing estate in outer south London to wider societal changes, and how they attempt to maintain a positive sense of self and material stability in the context of local labour market conditions, low wages, and the workings of social policy. It observes that community studies have the potential to act as testing grounds for abstract theories of social change through illuminating local expression of large-scale social processes, and revealing active involvement of individuals in the shaping of their social worlds.
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