Ordinary Streets

An ethnography from local to global

‘Ordinary Streets’ is an ethnographic and visual exploration of the spaces, economies and cultures of ‘street’, and engages with issues of immigration, adaptation and urban multiculture.

The street is emblematic of the ordinary city, a common urban currency that transmits direct forms of exchange and expression. As a space constituted by ‘ordinary’ citizens, it has a volatile and a convivial capacity: a register for explosive protests as well as quieter, sustained transformations. We turn to the commonplace logic of street to explore everyday transformations and how these are differentially represented through small independent shops, local interest groups, and local government organisations. We aim to analyse the street in ways that have significance for policy and planning, as well as interests around immigration and the socio-spatial ‘scapes’ that spans local and global realities. Our current focus is Peckham Rye Lane, an intensely active retail strip in south London appropriated by successive waves of immigrants, and shared with established residents. The fieldwork began in January 2012 and a team of researchers with backgrounds in sociology, architecture and international affairs are surveying, drawing, and observing the street.

Nicolas Palominos, architect and graduate of the Cities Programme, has lead on the graphic design of this project. Adriana Valdez Young, also a graduate of the Cities Programme, and Sadiq Toffa, have contributed a rich array of street images and analysis. Adriana completed her MSc dissertation in 2012 on: Selling & Planning Rye Lane: How cultural permutations of street trade can shape the urban plan. She was awarded the LSE Cities Programme Prize for Academic Achievement.


LSE Cities events
  • 25 September 2012 | 'The evolving high street', ESRC funded project with the University of Southampton 'The Future of the High Street', London
  • 5 July 2012 | 'Trans-ethnography and city scales', ESRC Research Methods Festival, University of Oxford
  • 3 July 2012 | 'Street Stewardship' Invited panellist, Association of Town Centre Management, Summer School, University of Bristol
Public lectures
  • 20 April 2011 | 'What kind of city does a street make?', Public lecture, School of Architecture, University of Cape Town

Project news


Journal articles
Book chapters
  • Hall, S., 2011. ‘Being at Home: Space for belonging in a London caff’, reprint from Open House International vol.34, no.3, in Dick Hobbs (ed), Ethnography in Context: The Urban Condition, vol. 1, London: SAGE.
Research reports
Blog posts

Photo essays