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    Focus article: unravelling the narratives and politics of belonging to place

    Watt, Paul (2010) Focus article: unravelling the narratives and politics of belonging to place. Housing, Theory and Society 27 (2), pp. 153-159. ISSN 1403-6096.

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    Mike Savage’s empirically rich and theoretically insightful paper expands upon the earlier formulation of the concept of “elective belonging” in Globalization and Belonging (Savage, Bagnall & Longhurst 2005). As he says in the paper, this narrative of belonging to place was one of two he and colleagues identified in four middle‐class areas in Greater Manchester, the other being that of “nostalgia”. The latter narrative, one of decline of community, is very much the subaltern narrative, one that as he says was only a minority view both amongst his earlier and more recent interviewees. Instead the dominant narrative is that of elective belonging, a tale of departure and arrival, as newcomers put down roots in a place they weren’t born into, a place they have come to adopt as their own. To these two narratives of belonging to place, Savage’s current paper adds a third, that of “dwelling” in which those people who are “born and bred” “are strongly vested in their current location in which they are irredeemably thrown” (2010:130). Having undertaken several pieces of research on the inter‐linkages between class, “race” and place, I found much of value in Mike Savage’s paper. His spatialized re‐working of Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical architecture of field, habitus and capital does much to re‐energize it, as I have argued elsewhere (Watt 2009a). The mapping exercises that Savage undertakes in the current paper also represent a major contribution to extrapolating the conceptual legacy bequeathed by Bourdieu. In general, I recognize the significance of Savage’s and other recent work on the “spatialization of class” and the importance of attachment to people’s residential locale. Having noted these welcome features, what I want to highlight in the rest of this focus article is how other research findings, notably on London and the ROSE (Rest Of South‐East England excluding London), diverge from those of Savage, and also to consider what significance such differences might have for the analytical framework that he sets out.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the (BIMI)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2013 13:17
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:07


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