DO WE REALLY NEED MORE RESEARCH?
Patterns of marginalisation and exclusion are well established in Britain’s urban areas and the evolution since 2008 of an austerity politics is effectively increasing social and economic inequality. Many of those who find themselves on the wrong end of these trends are habitually portrayed in the media through negative stereotypes and representations, compounding the effects of marginalisation.
These developing patterns of marginalisation present serious challenges to the church, which finds itself most strongly represented in more prosperous neighbourhoods. Church members and those who wish to engage in mission are generally unfamiliar with the everyday experiences of those who suffer from chronic and serious multiple deprivations. The church typically perceives the problem as one of ‘needs’ and configures its response accordingly—as seen for example in the significant rise in the number of food banks run by churches and Christian organisations.
Whilst the meeting of people’s needs is certainly not to be discouraged, the configuration of mission as service provision could be called into question. In particular the presupposition that accompanies such approaches—that the needs of the marginalised are obvious—makes no room for the voices and views of those who are actually experiencing the effects of marginalisation.