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Living in an oasis: middle-class disaffiliation and selective belonging in an English suburb

Watt, Paul (2009) Living in an oasis: middle-class disaffiliation and selective belonging in an English suburb. Environment and Planning A 41 (12), pp. 2874-2892. ISSN 0308-518X.

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This paper aims to address the oft-mentioned dearth of research on the suburbs by examining processes of sociospatial segregation and middle-class disaffiliation in London’s eastern suburban periphery. By drawing upon aspects of Bourdieu’s theoretical framework, the paper shows how the home-owning, middle-class, largely white residents of the ‘Woodlands’ private housing estate attempted to shore up their threatened sense of exclusivity in relation to the nearby deprived ‘Eastside’ suburb. The empirical material is drawn from survey and interview research on incomers to Woodlands. For its affluent incoming residents, Woodlands’ dominant place image was that of an ‘oasis’ within Eastside, an area dominated by a large council-built housing estate. Although the Woodlands incomers were physically resident in Eastside, they symbolically and practically disengaged from ‘local’ places, notably shops, pubs, and schools, and their lower class and not-quite-white populations. The author argues that the Woodlands incomers adhered to a spatially selective version of what Savage et al refer to as ‘elective belonging’. Such selective belonging denotes a spatially uneven attachment rooted in residents’ schizophrenic relationship to the suburban area, embracing the Woodlands oasis whilst abjuring the ‘other Eastside’.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Geography, Environment and Development Studies
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2011 09:55
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18

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