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Last on

Tue 23 Feb 2010 11:00 BBC Radio 4

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 23 February 2010

Luton-born Sarfraz Manzoor explores his home town as a subject of sociological fascination with Professor Fiona Devine, who studied the town's workers during the late 1980s. In the 1960s sociologists Goldthorpe, Lockwood, Bechhofer and Platt surveyed a sample of 'affluent workers' in Luton at Vauxhall Cars, Skefco Engineering and La Porte Chemicals. They studied the attitudes and behaviour of high wage earners in three mass production companies.

Luton was, at this time, a boom-town with the car industry being the dominant manufacturer. By the time another sociologist, Fiona Devine, revisited Luton in the 1980s, the place and the people were struggling in the economic decline of that decade and the car industry was half its size.

More than 20 years further on, Luton-born journalist, author and broadcaster Sarfraz Manzoor takes Professor Devine and Radio 4 back to Luton, which is now a very different place. It's no longer affluent and no longer as reliant on the motor industry - although the uncertainty surrounding General Motors still matters to the town.

Luton now has quite a substantial ethnic minority population and a much-changed employment landscape for those who live there. As to the affluent workers of past studies, many have long since retired and Sarfraz and Professor Devine aim to see what has become of their children.


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