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Sociological perspectives on the Grenfell Tower tragedy

The fire in Grenfell Tower on 14th June 2017 is, in many ways, a tragedy of such epic proportions that it is beyond comprehension and understanding. As the family and friends mourn the needless loss of life, the local community immediately affected by the fire seeks answers, solutions and help from seemingly ineffective local and national politicians. The wider community shocked by these events has also begun to reflect on how such a tragedy could have occurred in one of the most prosperous cities, in one of Europe's most affluent countries in 2017. Already many commentators are pointing to a range on contributing factors ranging from neglect, underfunding, austerity, gentrification, the experiences of living in high rise accommodation through to limitations of 1960s brutalist architecture.

Yet we have been here before - the 2009 Lakanal House fire prompted similar debates and, further back still, writing about housing in this very part of Kensington in her book 'A Troubled Area' (1964), Pearl Jephcott urged 'The prime need is for ACTION. Laodicean attitudes have prevailed for too long. Too much has been condoned. The attack must be on many fronts, its scale diverse. It is essential to provide new parliamentary powers if any radical inroad on the housing problem is to be made. . .' (Jephcott 1964: 143). As if prophetic, such half-hearted responses to local needs and the apparent indifference to the unequal impacts of poverty, austerity and gentrification have never disappeared for the residents of parts of the 'Royal Borough'. Why is this? How do we understand? How do we respond? Sociology does have something to offer here and can contribute to a broader understanding of how this tragedy came to be as the complexities of it continue to unfold.

This rapid response call invites papers addressing a wide-ranging number of themes and debates including (but not limited to): housing, social class, race, ethnicity, migration, inequality, poverty and austerity, social cleansing and gentrification, community, urban sociology, the development of high-rise housing, housing stock versus housing needs, homelessness, the funding of public services, citizenship and local representation/voice, charity and altruism, public sociology and so forth.

Articles should be submitted via this link. Rapid Response articles should be up to 3000 words in length. Please indicate that the article is in response to this call on your submission.

Authors are encouraged to submit articles as soon as possible after the call and papers are reviewed and published (if accepted) as they come in. The final deadline is 1st September 2017.

Steve Roberts and Charlie Walker, Editors

Henrietta O'Connor and John Goodwin, Guest Editors

Sociological Research Online