Understanding the anger of Britain’s Underclass

After getting into audiobooks back in May with Cal Newport’s Deep Work, I have continued to seek out and listen to books that help me think differently about my working practices or the projects I work on. Poverty Safari by Darren McGarvey has been the most influential book I’ve listened to in the last few months.

Podcast on smartphone

I had heard of Darren McGarvey (Loki the Scottish rapper) but hadn’t really followed his work until I saw him on stage at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was interviewing Akala about his book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire. It was such a thought-provoking event and so relevant to my work that I immediately bought copies of both books.

Poverty Safari cover art

Poverty Safari met all my expectations in terms of shining a spotlight on the class divide in modern Scotland. It is a topic I feel strongly about and an area where my lived experience and professional work meet, and occasionally collide. But where the book totally exceeded my expectations was in its relevance to our work in the cultural sector. Darren pulls no punches in his critique of the way that ‘community engagement’ happens in the cultural and arts sectors; his perspective is both refreshing and difficult to hear.

When things are difficult to hear, I believe it is a sign that we must listen harder. I recommend everybody in the cultural sector should read this book.