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The east end of London has for centuries been one of the poorest, most marginalised corners of Britain. A new book by researchers attached to the Young Foundation, The New East End, explores 50 years of social change in Tower Hamlets from the 1950s to the late 1990s. The story is one of heavy population turnover, conflict between newcomers and old-timers—relieved to some extent by personal ties and friendships—and above all the betrayal of poor people by those in positions of power over them.

Our story begins with the world explored by Michael Young and Peter Willmott in their famous…

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