We Are Ghosts is the result of a year-long qualitative research project and collaboration between the Runnymede Trust and the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS).
Conducted over 2018, interviews and focus groups with 78 people highlighted a growingly punitive culture of services experienced across working class, BME and migrant communities, despite such groups being repeatedly pitched against each other in mainstream media and political discourse. Rather than the ‘white working class’ and ‘ethnic or migrant working class’ living different or separate lives, we found significant overlap in everyday lived experiences, which we analysed by using 4 Ps: precariousness, power, place and prejudice.
The report makes the case that the working class is not white but multi-ethnic and has always included migrants. Working class communities, white or otherwise, struggle with precarious work (loss of traditional industries and the rise of the low-paid gig economy), with the minority ethnic working class also grappling with another form of precariousness – the struggle to prove their right to live and work here, as the Windrush scandal has highlighted.
The Runnymede Trust and CLASS call for:
- An inclusive working-class narrative, one that does not pitch everyday people against each other and acknowledges the legacy of colonialism in shaping modern-day Britain
- Policy-makers to re-embed dignity at the core of policy and re-build the safety net for all working-classes
- Ending the ‘hostile environment’ and designing universal public services with the basic premise that people deserve to be treated with care and dignity when navigating the system
- Strengthening working-class voice and participation across all institutions, including through co-production of services and fostering workers’ bargaining power