This is the second post in a series of blogs about Brexit by guest contributor Edd Graham-Hyde. (More about Edd below.)
As a result of Brexit, there are many people feeling disempowered. Whether they feel unheard or just angry at the situation, the outcome of disempowerment is the same.
I mentioned in my previous blog that there are sidelined demographics and I want to unpack that more now. When I refer to a sidelined demographic, I am referring to a group of people that feel isolated from established society; in sociological terms this would be the socially excluded. The reason I use 'sidelined', however, is because it describes more the phenomenon that has occurred with these demographics as much as it pulls away from potentially controversial sociological theory.
Sociologist Anthony Giddens suggests that social exclusion is a consideration included in modern policy-making and describes the phenomenon of social exclusion as:
"Social exclusion refers to ways in which individuals may become cut off from full involvement in the wider society. For instance, people who live in a dilapidated housing estate, with poor schools, and few employment opportunities in the area..." (2006)
He goes on to suggest that policy is created to try and rectify this and it varies in different societies.
I want to suggest an amendment.
While good intentions are to be found behind policy proposal in Parliament, implementation of such policy is in a political dead-lock. The upper echelon of society stands to only lose out from policy that brings equality, and those in power cannot deny their need for help from such types – they fund their campaigns (this obviously does not apply to everyone). I wouldn't mind betting that the premise of the 'Big Society' was David Cameron's way of bypassing political deadlock in a bid to do his best to bring more equality to the UK.
The political establishment will never be able to centrally accomplish social inclusion. The hope of achieving this is through the Church.
Coming back to my use of the term 'sidelined' – various things have caused these demographics (young, old, middle-class, working-class, etc.) to become sidelined. While I do not want to negate individual responsibility, I believe that these different demographics sideline each other and this is fuelled by the media, poorly constructed policy, and fear – all of which are disempowering.
I'm being on purposely vague as to what I am referring to as sidelined demographics because this will largely vary based on the micro-society you find your church in. Central Blackpool will have a vastly different sidelined narrative to those who live in Mid-Sussex. However, despite the differences, the remedy is the same. Empowerment.
Churches need to find unique ways to empower those who have been disempowered in their communities. Empowering individuals through the Church will enable them to re-engage with wider society, be more involved civically, and thrive as an individual too.
Seek some individuals from these sidelined demographics and include them in the decision-making process. Let them have a steer in what your Sunday meetings look like, or what an Alpha Course might look like. Ask them what they think is the most important need in their community and then provide a solution that puts that individual at the centre of it, leading it through.
In light of all the above, I think that it is more essential than ever before to seek out the disempowered. As a result of Brexit, up to 48% of the country's population will feel disempowered, while a significant proportion of the 52% have previously been disempowered. If we truly want to seek community cohesion, with the Church being at the centre as I'm sure you believe it should be, then we need to be active in this pursuit of the sidelined demographics.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by guest contributors are those of the author. Although broadly in keeping with the objectives of Jubilee+, the views and opinions of the guest do not necessarily represent those of the Jubilee+ team and directors and/or other contributors to this site.
Edd is a fully qualified RE teacher and currently teaches A-level Sociology and Politics; he is also currently lecturing ad-hoc at the University of Central Lancashire while completing his PhD in socially fringed groups and religious narratives with a focus on social policy. He is part of the Christ Church Blackpool church plant and is an advocate for planting more churches by the beach!
If you haven't yet booked in for Churches that Change Communities, there's still time. More info and booking here.