Dr. James Pattison an ESRC-funded postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr James Rhodes in the Department of Sociology at The University of Manchester. I have also held a teaching post at Nottingham Trent University. Before that I was a student in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham where I completed a BA in Sociology (first class) in 2014, an ESRC-funded MA in Research Methods (distinction) in 2015, and an ESRC-funded PhD in Sociology in 2020. My research interests lie broadly in urban sociology, particularly deindustrialisation, migration, regeneration, territorial stigmatisation, and changing forms of employment. My research is informed by debates on the relationship between race and class, racialised capitalism, and racialisation; and how these processes play out in smaller post-industrial towns that are not usually the focus of urban sociological analysis. I have experience and interests in qualitative research methodologies, in particular ethnography and visual research methods. I have collaborated with a range of organisations throughout my research, including a trade union, welfare rights centre, and community associations.

Project statement:

“Left behind? Precarity, stigma and migration in a post-industrial colliery town”

Britain’s post-industrial towns have been at the centre of popular and political debate during the last decade. This was particularly acute in the context of ‘Brexit’ and the political realignment of longstanding Labour-voting seats to the Conservatives in the 2019 election. Frequently such towns are described as ‘left behind’, but this characterisation implicitly refers to a narrowly defined working-class that is white and British, obscuring the extent to which structural inequalities associated with being ‘left behind’ are also faced by migrants and ethnic minorities. Focussing on the so-called ‘left behind’ reproduces an understanding that this group is the primary casualty of neoliberal restructuring, and effectively whitens the working-class. My PhD research employed a multimethod ethnographic approach to investigate class, race and migration in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, UK – a small and relatively isolated former colliery town. As part of the regeneration work intended to offset the impact of the colliery’s closure, the distribution warehouse of a large sportswear retailer relocated to Shirebrook and was at the centre of well-publicised controversies regarding poor working conditions for the predominantly Eastern European migrant labour force. Central and local government were complicit in constructing immigration as the foremost cause of social problems in Shirebrook, whilst disregarding broader structural issues such as precarious work and austerity. Similarly, local government interpreted issues in Shirebrook as local problems rather than manifestations of broader structural inequalities, and so proposed insufficient solutions such as the strengthening of social ties and the promotion of civic participation. From October 2020 I begin a postdoctoral fellowship focussing primarily on publishing these findings and developing a new research project on post-Brexit Shirebrook. The project will investigate the impact of a changing immigration regime effectively cutting off the supply of migrant relied upon by the town’s major employer and likely exacerbating problems rather than resolving them.