The Rich as a Minority Group was an active research project with GCSE Sociology students from Little Ilford School in Manor Park. Over four months, we worked with the students and teachers to investigate and gather material about wealth, class and social and economic inequality. Together, we unpicked the complex relationship to and understanding of ‘the rich’.
The title is derives from an article by Anne Simpson in the teachers’ journal Contemporary Issues in Geography and Education, Vol. 1, No. 2, 1984, in which she states: “In order to understand poverty and deprivation amongst groups at local, national and international levels it is necessary to examine wealth and privilege. In order to understand powerlessness in some groups, it is important to focus on the ways in which power is maintained by others.”
For us, this proposition resonated with current economic inequalities in the UK, and activating this study in a state secondary school in East London aimed to re-evaluate questions of wealth and power in society, linking with one of the aims of the journal from which the study originates: “To encourage the realisation of the links between critical understanding and the active transformation of the world in which we live.”
We led a series of practical and research based workshops in the school, and organised two field trips in which the students visited and interviewed a wealthy individual and an economist. We invited the Head of Sociology department at LSE and author of the Great British Class Survey – Professor Mike Savage to lead a discussion at the school about wealth, power and class.
An exhibition and two events expanding upon some of the themes of the project took place at Rabbits Road Institute. The exhibition included a film made from a comparative photographic study of the student’s local neighbourhood and the sites visited during the field trips, edited together with the questions they asked the wealthy individual and economist.
Also showing as part of the exhibition was a documentary film of the two field trips titled ‘Fieldwork: finding out about the rich’, and a series of posters developed as teaching aides for future study.