Friday, 4 May 2007

Advanced Western Capitalist Society, AHOY!

Right now at this moment in time, I'm trying to do some research - not for any academic purpose, but an attempt to prove to myself a statistical sociological fact. It's been bugging me for weeks and weeks, and I have to find some hard evidence.

I want to see if suburban New England's stance on having some commercial retail spaces open to 9-10pm on most evenings adds a significant boost to the local economy, while also lessening crime rates and anti-social behaviour.

See, I live in Surrey, UK at the moment -- most retail spaces are shut by 5pm every day, and most aren't open on a Sunday. Exceptions to this are restaurants and, of course, pubs.

So I am trying to do a comparison of statistics between to townships of similar size: Framingham MA (pop. 65,598, 2005) and Guildford, Surrey (pop. 66,773, 2001).


I wonder how advanced capitalist societies are supposed to grow; I would imagine along with more complex issues it would include:

A: assure the population has expendable income, via healthy employment
B: create public spaces with various retail outlets tailored to a wide class spectrum
C: encourage spending with retail opening hours of 9-to-9, for students, 9.2.5ers, etc.

With my personal experience of being a student in the UK, I find it really fucking difficult to become a good little active advanced western capitalist consumer, as I: Don't Have Enough Opportunity To Spend, & Don't Have Enough Disposable Income.

I go to skool weekdays, 10-5. When I leave, all the shops on the high-street are closing, including the book stores and cafes*, so the only opportunity I have for a social space outside of my (non-existent) living room is: The Pub, A Restaurant (Expensive! Bad quality!), A Park, Someone Else's Living Room.

Social aspects aside, it also limits my job opportunities: I could get a job at: A Pub or A Restaurant, but because I cannot work retail hours during the week, I am pretty unhireable anywhere else. Some stores will be looking for weekend help, but that would be working one single day a week at minimum wage. (Which I will add, is £4.45 for 18-21 y.os in the UK: see link.)

So lets say I get a job at the local greasy cafe getting £4.45 an hour, and on a Saturday the cafe is open from 9am to 4pm with an hour lunch break - I would be earning £26.70, not including tips -- but let me remind you that tips don't exist in the UK.

£26.70 is $53.05 as of today, yet that seems a bit extreme - living in England is different. £26.70 will buy me two weekly bus tickets to school, and leave me with 70p for a cup of machine coffee when I get there. I like to think it doesn't cost $26.52 in the States for a bus pass, but I can't remember.

Anyway, I get off track.
I don't yet understand why suburban England adheres to these retail hours. Is this my American adolescence showing through? Perhaps -- but I am not looking at this from a problem of retail spaces offering places to be for people on a social level - not just as consumers, but as a place where they can spend leisure time that aren't a pub. Cinemas, bookstores, cafes, stupid-random-shops, galleries, music shops, etc, etc, etc. Britain is having a huge problem with binge drinking and antisocial behaviour in teenagers and young-adults -- is it because there is nowhere else to go but the pub, or the local park at night?

I must investigate...

Or maybe I could go to the pub.

*Oh how I miss the book stores and cafes. ::weeping::

[[Edit: oh man, my blog homie Frank has some sweet things to say about England as a security state. I can confirm this all as true. I will be sending the tapes as evidence.]]

[[Edit II: if I lived in Tokyo, I know who I'd consider voting for. At least he is honest.]]


fp said...

Look out. Beth and I are planning a trip to England late summer and we may very well kidnap you and take you out for some food and a consumer shopping binge.

Kei Mars said...

You're in Guildford?? Is the Tudor Rose restaurant still there? half way up the high street. I used to have tea there when I went shopping in Guildford at weekends growing up.

There's a nice Viennese patisserie somewhere too.

Of course they filmd the church scene where Damien freaks out in The Omen there too, at the Cathedral. Ah memories.

Miss K xx

J.Black said...

Ah, Frank, I'd be honoured to have some tea with you and Beth! I'm not certain where I'll be location-wise with summer, but I'll keep you updated.

And K, I'm near Guildford, and get down there occasionally -- but I can't say I've dined there, mostly just, drank. Hah! I'll have to look out for it thought...

Island_boy_hsv said...

Hi I drive through Guildford now and again, do you know if there is a petrol station that offers 99ron fuel? I too had a difficulty getting a job as a student; I ended up selling things that helped the students I was studying with computer disks and other things they needed. I hope this helps, my other job suggestion is to work in a casino. This could be compatible with your studies.

J.Black said...

IBhsv; I totally thought you were a spam bot until I realised who you were...

99pence; and I totally bet it's petrol that's fallen off the back of a lorry. Blood 4 Oil yo.