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A mile of mixed blessings: an ethnography of boundaries and belonging on a South London street

Hall, Suzanne (2010) A mile of mixed blessings: an ethnography of boundaries and belonging on a South London street. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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This thesis is an ethnography of how individuals experience urban change and difference on a south London street. My research focuses on the contemporary increase in cultural and ethnic diversity in London, and I explore what this means for social life and shared space on the Walworth Road. The purpose is to observe and interpret the forms of contact and distance people develop in living with difference in their everyday lives. I use a mixture of official, archival and ethnographic data to contrast how individuals transgress or re-inscribe social and spatial boundaries, and how systems of power authorise boundaries between people and places. I also combine ethnographic and visual methods to analyse and illustrate the layers of place, time and experience that are invoked by narratives of change on the Walworth Road. Although my thesis connects the global and local impacts of change, I select the small independent shops along the Walworth Road as the base of my exploration. Within a selection of shop interiors, I explore forms of social contact that are locally constituted through regular, face-to-face interaction, and through shared spaces and practices that engage people across diverse spectrums. I analyse the relationships between proprietors and customers: between workspaces and work skills and social spaces and social skills. Through this empirical process, I emphasise the social and political significance of ordinary spaces and informal memberships that emerge out of everyday contact in neither overtly public, nor overtly private space. This thesis has been edited into a book form to be released by Routledge in May 2012, the title of which is ‘City, Street and Citizen: The measure of the ordinary’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Suzanne M. Hall
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Foster, Janet and Tavernor, Robert

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