Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland
School of Social Work
Institute for Social Planning, Organisational Change and Urban Development
Everyday Urban Practices of Belonging and the (Re)Production of Doing Neighbourhood - Transformed and Transforming Neighbourhoods in Berlin
It has been widely discussed in urban research whether or not neighbourhoods, and place in general, as objects of attachment in terms of localness and rootedness of people (still) matter in the contemporary era of increasing globalisation, individualisation and mobility. This PhD project is based on the assumption that on-going transformation processes do not result in a disappearance of neighbourhood or its loss of meaning for people, but rather emphasises that meanings and practices of (doing) neighbourhood in urban spaces have changed and are in constant flux. Neighbourhood is conceptualised as a particular form of urban emplacement, something that is constantly in the process of becoming through everyday practices of urban residents living in spatial proximity. "Living next to" and "living with" is constantly (re)produced, negotiated and contested in everyday urban life, producing multiple meanings, imageries and manifestations of neighbourhood. Thus, neighbourhood is understood as space and resource of belonging shaped by practices of drawing boundaries and connecting. According to Vertovec (2007) cities are more and more marked by super-diversity, leading to new forms of co-habitation and changed patterns of boundary-drawing and connecting at neighbourhood scale. The city of Berlin has experienced a diversification of urban populations since the reunification in 1989. Ongoing transformations linked to urban re-structuring processes, increasing mobility and migration, have resulted in a growing polarization of the housing market, rising rents, the upscaling and displacement in neighbourhoods, with gentrification processes gaining momentum in certain inner-city areas and turning them into contested spaces.
Placing this PhD project at the nexus of space, practices of belonging and doing neighbourhood in urban areas in Berlin, the following research questions emerge:
- How are meanings and practices of (doing) neighbourhood in Berlin, understood as spaces of belonging, (re)produced, performed, negotiated, contested, and adjusted in everyday urban life?
- What and how do practices of boundary drawing and connecting shape senses of belonging to 'neighbourhood' in urban areas in Berlin that are marked by 'super-diversity' and spatial transformation?
The PhD project aims to contribute to the current research on neighbourhood by developing a multidimensional understanding of (doing) neighbourhood, taking into account social, spatial and material dimensions of everyday practices. In addition, it aims to contribute to the body of knowledge of urban anthropology by embedding it within an understanding of urbanity as a set of social, material and spatial processes.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Johannes Moser