The hidden injuries and hidden rewards of urban restructuring on working-class communities: a case study of gentrification in Partick, Glasgow

Paton, Kirsteen (2010) The hidden injuries and hidden rewards of urban restructuring on working-class communities: a case study of gentrification in Partick, Glasgow. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores the relationship between urban restructuring and working-class communities in the context of post-industrial neoliberalism. While working-class communities were the bedrock of classical sociological analysis in the industrial period, it is thought that class no longer provides a meaningful social identity and increasing individualisation is often said to signify that agency is set free from the confines of structure. In this thesis, I attempt to, first, confront these assertions by reasserting the relationship between urban restructuring working-class communities and, second, represent contemporary working-class lives, through an ethnographic case study of gentrification in working-class neighbourhood, Partick in Glasgow. Substantively, in this thesis I take gentrification as a key process of class restructuring which is spatially articulated and is the leading edge of urban policy both in the UK and globally. While gentrification intimates that urban restructuring and working-class communities are inextricably connected, this relationship is not always fully explicated within research; orthodox definitions separate economic and cultural fields and working-class experiences are underrepresented. Thus theoretically, in this thesis, I attempt to attend to these shortcomings by using hegemony as framework. Hegemony refers to a form of rule relevant to how transformations in social relations are managed whilst the capitalist system is maintained overall. This involves a mix of consent and coercion which combine structural and agential processes, highlighting the reciprocal relationship between material and the phenomenological levels. Within this, gentrification is conceived as a political strategy, which not only seeks to create space for the more affluent user; it seeks to, consensually, create the more affluent user which, in the context of neoliberalism, relates to a moral and financial economy. This new sociological perspective on gentrification combines cultural and material understandings, whilst making working-class communities and their everyday lives the centre point of analysis. This focus is imperative since working-class people and places are the principal targets of policy-led gentrification, yet current representations of and conceptual language used to describe working-class lives have waned within mainstream sociology. I examine how working-class residents receive, negotiate and resist gentrification processes to reveal the ‘hidden injuries’ as well as the ‘hidden rewards’ of urban restructuring.

This study aims to do this by collecting ‘locational narratives’ of 49 residents of Partick. These accounts revealed that respondents’ rejection of traditional class identity did not signify the end of class, rather, it demonstrated that there was a material rationale underpinning individualisation and their disassociation with class, which relate to neoliberal ideologies that decontextualise class and promote self-determination. Residents’ place-based attachment is revealed to be a crucial class signifier – on both phenomenological and material levels. Elective fixity describes the choice and control residents’ have over their ability to stay fixed within their neighbourhood. Respondents are shown to have a paradoxical relationship with gentrification whereby they are invited to participate in processes as consumer citizens, through homeownership or consuming privatised neighbourhoods services, yet are not provided with the means to consume. Residents’ experiences of gentrification are characterised by tensions around control and choice and lack thereof. While gentrification brought new rewards whereby working-class respondents could, provided they had the means, act as gentrifiers, they were also confronted with novel forms of displacement, identified as new typologies which relate to the increased privatisation of social housing. Thus, an emergent negotiated culture of contemporary working-class communities is revealed which is set within the confines of structure within a post-industrial neoliberal context. Using a framework of hegemony to understand the political project of gentrification reveals the reciprocal relationship between urban restructuring and the remaking of the working-class subject.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to issues of confidentiality this thesis is unavailable for viewing. Access to the printed version is available.
Keywords: working-class lives, community, urban change, gentrification, hegemony, neoliberalism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Helms, Dr. Gesa and Virdee, Prof. Satnam
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Ms Kirsteen Paton
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1812
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 May 2010
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2015 12:30

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