A Politics of resentment: shopkeepers in a London neighbourhood

Wells, Karen and Watson, Sophie (2005). A Politics of resentment: shopkeepers in a London neighbourhood. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28(2) pp. 261–277.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870420000315843

Abstract

In this article we analyse the "talk" of shopkeepers in a multicultural London neighbourhood. These shopkeepers resent the loss of economic prosperity and sense of community that, in their nostalgic recollection, characterized their neighbourhood in an earlier era. They answer the classic question of politics, "who gets what and why" with "they get everything because we get nothing." We identify this stance as a politics of resentment, one that engages with government and media narratives against asylum-seekers to construct a highly exclusionary notion of British identity. In these shopkeepers' discourse being British means being Anglophone, Christian and white, with these signifiers being configured in different ways, depending on the social location of the speaker. They resent local and national government for what they perceive as the unfair distribution of resources, both to "asylum-seekers" below them and to corporate capital above them.

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