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Exploring London's food quarters: Urban design and social process in three food-centred spaces.

Parham, Susan (2009) Exploring London's food quarters: Urban design and social process in three food-centred spaces. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis considers three food-centred spaces in London. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from sociology, geography, urban design and morphology, it explores the spatial and social transformation of the Borough Market, Broadway Market and Exmouth Market areas through the revival of their food markets. Using a mix of methods including interviews, observations, mapping and urban design analysis, the case study-based research situates these neighbourhoods along a continuum of food quarter development. The work reflects on the quarters not only as fast gentrifying locations in which renewal is grounded in new forms of conspicuous food consumption, but as places that also support changing - and potentially less alienating - relationships between sustainable urban form, urban design context and convivial social processes focused on food. It is argued that the aspatiality of much sociological research into foodscapes tends to underemphasise the connections between the physical and the social, which in the three food quarters are nuanced and complicated. On the one hand, food quarters are experienced by some, after Bourdieu (1984), as 'mini habituses' (Bridge, 2006) in which identity construction is linked to distinction based on food, and modelled on particular forms of food consumption. On the other hand, despite sometimes 'idealised narratives' (Butler, 2007) of community' formation, food quarters may also make a contribution to developing more sustainable cities, by supporting and nurturing convivial socio-spatial food practices that sometimes transcend commodification. In particular, the thesis explores how compact city design, founded on a strong sense of place, underpins local economic vitality, and informs the richness of experiences of food and eating. The thesis concludes that despite some gentrifying effects, the food quarters are in certain respects defying dominant spatialised trends evident in London, to develop in a more convivial, gastronomically rich and sustainable way.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Sociology, Social Structure and Development, Urban and Regional Planning
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Sociology

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