The health of the population in Glasgow and the surrounding region is known to be poorer than the similar cities of Liverpool and Manchester. A key indication of this is Glasgow’s higher (or ‘excess’) mortality in comparison with these two cities despite their similar histories, population profiles and levels of deprivation. One of a number of proposed explanations for this is the ‘socio-cultural hypothesis’ which suggests the differences in health outcomes can be explained at the level of culture. The research reported here responds to this hypothesis through a qualitative investigation of the lives, outlooks and aspirations of nine communities across the three cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.
This study found the three cities, and communities within them, to have different experiences and responses to three core dimensions of change to which people and communities have had to adapt. Changes affecting communities include economic aspects, changes in the wider welfare landscape and the project of austerity, and finally, changes in how community and mutual support is understood, enacted and created. That the three cites appear to be on different trajectories in relation to these dimensions of change is interesting because the idea of Glasgow’s ‘excess’ mortality is premised on the idea that the three cities share similar histories and characteristics. These findings indicate their futures may be characterised more by difference than similarity.