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CRIT-GEOG-FORUM  November 2016

CRIT-GEOG-FORUM November 2016

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Subject:

Re: Visualizing Spaces of Unease - post Brexit, Trump etc.

From:

Reed Underwood <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Reed Underwood <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 24 Nov 2016 10:50:52 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (132 lines)

I agree with a lot of this commentary. But what concerns me is how many in the press, on the right and the left, here in the States insist on attributing Trump's rise to "economic anxiety" while remaining utterly incapable of demonstrating any sort of strong correlation between economic circumstance and the Trump tendency.

For my part, anecdotally, after spending a lot of time in rural Texas, most of the die-hard Trump support there is among people who are not highly educated but are nonetheless doing alright (or even great) financially. So my gut says this isn't really about "economic anxiety", at least not in the straight-forward sense set forth in a lot of the American news media.

And at some point, it seems to me, people who want to insist that the election was primarily or even largely about this mysterious "economic anxiety" have to stop moving the goalposts and demonstrate a strong correlation between concrete economic circumstances and electoral shift toward Trump. That may be something that can be done, and I think there have been some really interesting ideas about possible factors floated on the list, from access to capital to housing crisis aftermath to structural shifts in entitlements and so on. But I haven't seen it done, even as rhetoric which seems to take it as given -- be it from Breitbart or Jacobin -- continues to fly.

As for Brexit, I can't begin to speak to its electoral roots at all intelligently, though I am very interested in learning more (and have already learned a lot in reading commentary and discussion here).

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Regards,
R.

On Thu, Nov 24, 2016 at 02:52:46PM +0000, Gordon,IR wrote:
> Dear all,
> 
> At least outside CGF, the big debate, as I understand it   is now between an interpretation of the rise in ‘populist’ voting (across the UK, rest of EU and the US) as  more of a reaction against being left behind materially (and hence economically insecure) or culturally (feeling disempowered by new values/valued knowledge forms) – rather than about which aspects/indicators of economic insecurity can most credibly be correlated with the pattern of populist voting.
> 
> The clearest expression of this formulation of the explanatory issue  that I’ve seen so far is a paper by Inglehart and Norris:
> Inglehart, R.F. and Norris, P. (2016) ‘Trump, Brexit and the Rise of Populism: economic have-nots and cultural backlash’,
> Faculty Research Working Paper 16 – 026, Harvard Kennedy School, August.
> Having set the issue out, they then look at several relevant kinds of empirical evidence, including analyses of parties’ political agendas/offers.  But their key evidence comes from looking across Europe at individual level evidence from the European Social Survey on who is more/less likely to show support for populist parties/issues. Overall they find that such support is  primarily associated with a reaction against progressive value change by members of previously more dominant population groups -  and (though class etc. come into that) scarcely at all with any indicators of potential economic insecurity (the partial exception being subjective feelings of insecurity).
> 
> I think this is not inconsistent with the main findings reported from UK polling/survey evidence – and with the geographic pattern of Leave voting (outside Northern Ireland).  That pattern is  very strongly correlated with the pattern of qualifications achieved (though not simply highest-lowest, also something like academic vs. vocational) and/or concentrations of several particular occupational groupings (within a range of different social classes, of conventional kinds) – and secondarily (and much more weakly) with acceleration of local migrant arrivals post 2004.  Neither this pattern nor the residuals suggest/support any more straightforwardly material interpretation of the geography -  in terms of where particular employment shocks might be expected to have increased insecurity (except conceivably from migrant competition, though the poll indications again are that the objection to growing local numbers has had more to do with impacts on the ‘character’ of areas than on expected incomes).
> 
> Some of these suggestions/early analyses/possible implications are sketched in the attached (informal) presentation to an internal LSE seminar (alongside ones by Kevin Cox and Ron Johnston with other approaches to analysis of the Brexit voting map).  There’s a lot still to unscramble.  But I think it will be a big mistake to keep on looking for some simple and direct geographic  association with likely positive/negative impacts from either trade liberalisation or from national policy shifts as the key to understanding what happened and the kind of political cleavage which recent events have brought to the fore, but which must have been around (mostly unrecognised) for very much longer, and won’t be going away any time soon – so far as I can see.
> 
> Ian Gordon
> 
> Emeritus Professor of Human Geography
>  London School of Economics
>  Houghton Street
>  London
>  WC2A 2AE
>  Tel: +44 (0)20 7107 5384
>  Email: [log in to unmask]<javascript:main.compose('new',[log in to unmask])>
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> From: A forum for critical and radical geographers [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Hillary Shaw
> Sent: 24 November 2016 12:27
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Visualizing Correlations Between Unemployment and Electoral Shift in the U.S.
> 
> We probably need to study the pattern of several indicators at once, e.g. 2 or 3 together. I am preparing some choropleth maps to this end for the UK at the MLSOA level hopefully for 2017 - or in graph format, I did partial correlation ' social transect graphs for Birmingham re obesity and poverty, which were published in
> 
> 
>   *   ‘Food access diet and health in the UK: an empirical study of Birmingham’, British Food Journal, Vol. 114, Issue 4, (2012), pp. 598-616
> 
> We probably need to try several combinations of factors which affect the 'precariat', like, for the UK, level of CCJs per head, car ownership, unemployment etc etc, and see what spatial patterns we get. For the UK, this data is available on Neighbourhood Stastics, so we'll see for 2017.
> 
> Dr Hillary J. Shaw
> Director and Senior Research Consultant
> Shaw Food Solutions
> Newport
> Shropshire
> TF10 8QE
> www.fooddeserts.org<http://www.fooddeserts.org>
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: simone tulumello <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
> To: CRIT-GEOG-FORUM <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
> Sent: Thu, Nov 24, 2016 11:46 am
> Subject: Re: Visualizing Correlations Between Unemployment and Electoral Shift in the U.S.
> Thanks Reed,
> I tend to agree with Hillary that unemployment, given the post-crisis political economy of the USA, is not the most accurate variable to describe economic insecurity - while it would be much more in places such as Southern Europe. There is almost total employment in the US AND levels of poverty uncomparable in other Western countries. My personal, anedoctal maybe, experience in Memphis is that the average poor is not unemployed, but has one or more jobs. But, anyway, considering the polls, more than the "poor", the sensation is that shift toward Trump (or, better, missing votes for Clinton) are concentrated not among the poor, but among middle-class workers who have lost much of their purchasing power and tend to slip away from middle-class (something that, depending where you are and what your family is placed, can happen quite above 50k...).
> I've been thinking on one specific factor of this conjunctire that may explain some of the links between class and race in the election. Think of Obamacare, the way it created a group (or class) which is squeezed in-between the impossibility/difficulty to access market-rate insurance and the access to subsidized healthcare. Again, anecdotically, I've met many young, middle-class folks, in semi-precarious jobs, not poor enough to get Obamacare and for whom paying a normal insurance would had meant slipping toward poverty. Well, I mostly met educated liberal people in this condition; but what about white blue-collars seeing poorer (and often black) people getting something they cannot get?
> Is there any way to study voting shifts in relation to concentration of such "caught in" folks?
> 
> 2016-11-23 19:01 GMT+00:00 Hillary Shaw <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>:
> Interesting maps - certainly tends to erode the simple 'unemployment = Trump' idea. However maybe (low) wages could be a better indicator of 'Trumpiness' than simply (lack of)  jobs? Low unemployment can be produced either by a vibrant economy OR by a depressed one creating lots of low wage jobs which the reserve army of labour are then pushed into by Benefits Agencies applying sanctions under government austerity policies as they seek to cut spending rather than precipoitate higher inflation of higher interest rates through borrowing (a policy that depresses consumer prices whilst raising asset prices - houses, shares etc - that ultimately drives up inequality.  (some notes on S Wales austerity here - http://www.fooddeserts.org/images/CURA%20project.htm  ).  So a 'low-unemployment' area isn't necessarily an economically thriving one. In fact even as the Credit Crunch progressed from 2007/8, unemployment rates have fallen in many developed countries,   http://www.fooddeserts.org/images/KontentEcon.htm
> 
> As a purely personal, anecdotal, obesrvation, I am somewhat perturbed to see, in a supposedly wealthy hi-tech country like the UK, 'huyman billboards' people paid (Min Wage I guess) to stand at busy road juncstions - I see this a lot in Leicester for some reason - advertising some pizza restuarant or whatever. Surely the level of wages should not be at such a level that this is an economic means of advertising one's business. What does everyone else think here?
> 
> 
> 
> Dr Hillary J. Shaw
> Director and Senior Research Consultant
> Shaw Food Solutions
> Newport
> Shropshire
> TF10 8QE
> www.fooddeserts.org<http://www.fooddeserts.org>
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Reed Underwood <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
> To: CRIT-GEOG-FORUM <[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>>
> Sent: Wed, Nov 23, 2016 6:33 pm
> Subject: Visualizing Correlations Between Unemployment and Electoral Shift in the U.S.
> 
> Critgeopeople,
> 
> Much of the discussion around the recent U.S. Presidential election has centered on the thesis that economic anxiety motivated voters to gravitate away from the Democratic candidate and toward Donald Trump. In an attempt to visualize this, I created a couple of maps:
> 
> http://fm2279.xyz/visualizing-change-in-unemployment-and-electoral-spread.html
> 
> These were generated using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and election returns, all at the county level. Counties which registered below average (more negative) changes in unemployment rate are colored red. Those which registered above average (more positive) changes in unemployment rate are colored green. The intensity of the color (opacity) is based on the distance from the mean change in unemployment among U.S. counties. Shift in spread between Democratic and Republican candidates is indicated by increasing the blue component such that counties with above average (more positive) changes in unemployment and above average shifts in voting toward Trump are filled cyan while counties with below average changes in unemployment (more negative) and above average shifts in voting toward Trump are filled purple.
> 
> The county-level voting data for 2016 is of uncertain accuracy, but it appears to be reasonably correct at a glance. It comes from here:
> 
> https://github.com/tonmcg/County_Level_Election_Results_12-16
> 
> To be clear, I'm just working through this, and I haven't rigorously validated the data or maps themselves. But I think they're interesting, if they're at all accurate.
> 
> If one takes sharp negative unemployment shifts as a proxy for "economic anxiety" (obviously up for debate) one would expect to see, particularly in the swing Rust Belt states, lots of purple. That doesn't seem to be the case, which would mean these maps don't support the "economic anxiety" thesis. In fact, if the maps are correct, many of the counties in states that swung critically for Trump saw not worse shifts in unemployment but much better than the nationwide county average.
> 
> It's entirely plausible that the maps are flawed. But I'd love to hear what people think, about both the spatial aspects of the "economic anxiety" thesis and the visualizations themselves.
> 
> And, if it's of interest to any of the open source folks, these maps were generated using only open source tools with public data.
> 
> Best,
> Reed Underwood
> University of North Texas
> http://fm2279.xyz/pages/about.html
> 
> 
> 
> --
> Simone Tulumello
> Post-doc research fellow, ULisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais
> 
> latest publication:
> Tulumello S. (2017) Fear, Space and Urban Planning. A critical perspective from Southern Europe. Springer (link<http://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783319439365>)
> Tulumello S. (2016) Toward a critical understanding of urban security within the institutional practice of urbanplanning: The case of the Lisbon Metropolitan Area. JPER (link<http://jpe.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/08/20/0739456X16664786.abstract>)
> Tulumello S. (2016) Multi-level Territorial Governance and Cohesion Policy. Structural Funds and the Timing of Development in Palermo and the Italian Mezzogiorno. EJSD (link<http://www.nordregio.se/Global/EJSD/Refereed%20articles/Refereed62.pdf>)
> 
> webpage<http://www.ics.ulisboa.pt/pessoas/simone.tulumello> / blog<http://simonetulumello.wordpress.com/> / academia.edu<http://unipa.academia.edu/SimoneTulumello> / flickr<http://www.flickr.com/photos/simotulu/> / twitter<http://twitter.com/SimTulum>

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