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    Place belonging in urban and suburban neighbourhoods

    Watt, Paul (2010) Place belonging in urban and suburban neighbourhoods. In: Georg Simmel Think & Drink Colloquium, 2010, Department of Sociology, Humboldt University, Berlin. (Unpublished)

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    This paper examines notions of place belonging in urban and suburban neighbourhoods with reference to research undertaken in London. It does so by drawing upon and extending the work of Mike Savage et al. (2005) in Globalization and Belonging. By providing a spatial revision to Pierre Bourdieu’s theoretical framework of habitus and field, Savage and colleagues have suggested that global flows of people have not rendered the residential neighbourhood insignificant for forms of attachment, even if the notion of neighbourhood-based communities (a la community studies) is nevertheless problematic (see also Blokland, 2003). Savage et al. argue that forms of place-based belonging can take two dominant forms, i.e. a ‘traditional’ form based on long-term residence (‘stayers’), and an ‘elective’ form of volitional belonging adopted by those new to an area (‘incomers’). In this paper I want to suggest that alongside these two existing forms of belonging, two further forms can be added, i.e. ‘spoiled belonging’ and ‘selective belonging’. The former ‘spoiled belonging’ refers to those situations when long-term residents demonstrate considerable ambivalence about their neighbourhood in terms of whether or not they belong there. This occurs when they articulate what can be termed ‘narratives of urban decline’ in which the tightly-bound nature of the past ‘community’ is said to have withered because of a range of ‘spoiling’ factors, either material (as in job or amenity losses) or symbolic (as in the sense that it no longer culturally feels like ‘their’ place). ‘Selective belonging’, on the other hand, refers to those situations when newcomers to an area adhere to a spatially selective version of elective belonging in the sense that they express belonging to the immediate part of their neighbourhood, but not to the wider surrounding area. This notion of a spatially demarcated selective belonging is illustrated with research undertaken in an affluent private housing estate in suburban London. The paper argues that class and ethnic/racial differences are key to understanding both spoiled and selective belonging. The paper concludes by outlining the potential applicability of the concept of selective belonging for urban sociology.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    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 15:11
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:07


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