City, Street and Citizen

The measure of the ordinary

City, Street and Citizen, published by Routledge, is a fine-grained account of accelerated urban change and focuses on the lived realities of participation and belonging in an increasingly diverse and disparate urban milieu. Based on the author’s PhD thesis, the book engages with near and far views of a south London street and draws on history, everyday life, global forces and small spaces to reveal the life and livelihoods of the Walworth Road.

How can we learn from a multicultural society if we don’t know how to recognise it? The contemporary city is more than ever a space for the intense convergence of diverse individuals who shift in and out of its urban terrains. The city street is perhaps the most prosaic of the city’s public parts, allowing us a view of the very ordinary practices of life and livelihoods. By attending to the expressions of conviviality and contestation, City, Street and Citizen offers an alternative notion of ‘multiculturalism’ away from the ideological frame of nation, and away from the moral imperative of community. This book offers to the reader an account of the lived realities of allegiance, participation and belonging from the base of a multi-ethnic street in south London.

It focuses on the question of whether local life is significant for how individuals develop skills to live with urban change and cultural and ethnic diversity. To animate this question, Hall has turned to a city street and its dimensions of regularity and propinquity to explore interactions in the small shop spaces along the Walworth Road. Grounded in an ethnographic approach, this book will be of interest to academics and students in the fields of sociology, global urbanisation, migration and ethnicity as well as being relevant to politicians, policy makers, urban designers and architects involved in cultural diversity, public space and street based economies.

You can find out more about Suzanne Hall’s on-going research on the ‘Ordinary Streets’ project page