Globalization and Belonging

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Mike Savage, Gaynor Bagnall & Brian Longhurst

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  • Theory, Culture & Society

    Theory, Culture & Society caters for the resurgence of interest in culture within contemporary social science and the humanities. Building on the heritage of classical social theory the book series examines ways in which this tradition has been reshaped by a new generation of theorists. It also publishes theoretically informed analyses of everyday life, popular culture, and new intellectual movements.

    EDITOR: Mike Featherstone, Nottingham Trent University

    SERIES EDITORIAL BOARD

    Roy Boyne, University of Durham

    Mike Hepworth, University of Aberdeen

    Scott Lash, Goldsmiths College, University of London

    Roland Robertson, University of Aberdeen

    Bryan S. Turner, University of Cambridge

    THE TCS CENTRE

    The Theory, Culture & Society book series, the journals Theory, Culture & Society and Body & Society, and related conference, seminar and postgraduate programmes operate from the TCS Centre at Nottingham Trent University. For further details of the TCS Centre's activities please contact:

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    Recent volumes include:

    Sex and Manners

    Cas Wouters

    The Body and Social Theory

    Chris Shilling

    Religion, Realism and Social Theory

    Phillip A. Mellor

    The Body in Culture, Technology and Society

    Chris Shilling

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    List of Tables and Maps

    • Table 1.1: Percent of households in each area falling into various ACORN postcode categories 20
    • Table 1.2: Statistics of achieved sample 21
    • Table 2.1: Response to the question: ‘What kind of people live round here?’ 32
    • Table 2.2: Numbers of respondents' references to occupations and/or class in response to the question: ‘What kind of people live round here?’ 34
    • Table 2.3: Areas where respondents were brought up 45
    • Table 2.4: Location of kin 46
    • Table 2.5: Percentage of those brought up in different places who feel they belong in area of current residence 47
    • Table 3.1: Respondents with children and age of children 57
    • Table 3.2: Respondents with children in education and mode of schooling 63
    • Table 3.3: Respondents involved with PTA and type of involvement 72
    • Table 4.1: Neighbouring practices 84
    • Table 4.2: Percentage of respondents referring to London in various ways 94
    • Table 4.3: Strength and orientation of place identifications 102
    • Table 5.1: Respondents use of Manchester's urban space 114
    • Table 5.2: Use of cultural facilities in Manchester centre 120
    • Table 5.3: Urban and regional identification of respondents 124
    • Table 6.1: The organisation of friendship 143
    • Table 7.1: Non-prompted mentions of television programmes 158
    • Table 7.2: Possession of cable and satellite television 160
    • Table 7.3: Type of reference to music by respondents 169
    • Table 7.4: Reading practices 171
    • Table 7.5: Geography of cultural referents 174
    • Table 8.1: Ethnic identification of respondents 183
    • Table 8.2: Overseas contacts of respondents 187
    • Map 1.1: Location of case study areas 18
    • Map 2.1: Map of Greater Manchester locations 40
    • Map 5.1: Map of Central Manchester locations 111

    Preface and Acknowledgements

    The origins of this book date from 1996 when the Economic and Social Research Council (to whom we are duly grateful) funded our project called ‘Lifestyles and Social Integration: a study of middle-class culture in Manchester’. The aims of the research project were influenced by what Rosemary Crompton (1998) has identified as the ‘employment aggregate’ approach to class analysis. This perspective, associated with sociologists such as John Goldthorpe and Gordon Marshall, considers how people's class position within employment relationships affects their life chances and actions, such as their educational achievement (famously, Halsey et al. 1980), or political orientations (Heath et al. 1985, 1991; Evans 1999). We were aware that this perspective had not been much applied to the study of consumption, leisure practices and lifestyles (though see Savage et al. 1992, and subsequent discussions in Butler and Savage 1995; Chaney 1996; Lury 1997; Warde 1997 for partial exceptions), and were especially interested to map differences in middle-class lifestyles. Our plan, therefore, was to use qualitative methods to expand our understanding of consumption patterns and lifestyles within the middle-class, focusing on four local areas chosen to exemplify potentially different forms of middle-class culture. We were concerned to pay particular attention to the local contexts in which consumption took place, drawing upon Gaynor Bagnall's and Brian Longhurst's earlier research on audiences (Longhurst and Savage 1996; Bagnall 1996, 1998; Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998).

    The research was conducted between 1997 and 1999, and duly led to a clutch of papers (Longhurst et al. 2001; Savage 2000; Savage et al. 2001; Savage et al. 2004a; Bangnall et al. 2003). However, we did not have time to fully write up our research immediately after completing the fieldwork. Gaynor took up her first lecturing post at Liverpool John Moores University with all the demands that a new job entailed. Brian became Director of the Institute for Social Research (and later Head of the School of English, Sociology, Politics and Contemporary History) at the University of Salford, and Mike became Head of the Sociology Department at the University of Manchester. In addition, we all had the demands of young children! While we had time to ‘mine’ the data for issues of particular interest, such as class identity (Savage et al. 2001), or radio listening (Longhurst et al. 2001), we did not have the chance to analyse the interview data as a whole, much of which was left untouched until 2002. The bulk of the data was analysed and the book written from summer 2002 to summer 2003 when Mike had a year's sabbatical. Mike therefore took the lead, with input from Gaynor and Brain, in writing up what had been very much a team project.

    When we came to write this book, our framing concerns had shifted. Mike's Class Analysis and Social Transformation (2000), written after we collected the data but before we fully analysed it, saw him becoming more sceptical of the scope of the ‘employment aggregate’ approach to class analysis for the understanding of consumption and lifestyle. He argued that while close relationships between class position and life-chances could be detected, there was little evidence that identity, values and lifestyles were so directly linked. This was of course a familiar (though largely untested) claim in much sociological writing of this period (see for instance Chaney 1996). We became increasingly interested in understanding the local contexts in which we carried out our interviews, and understanding the relationship between locale, lifestyles and identities. Rather then seeing class cultures and lifestyles as fundamentally the product of occupation and employment, could we instead see them as arising out of residential processes?

    This new interest chimed in with research demonstrating the significance of place for outcomes in the areas of health, political alignments, and so on. But it raised its own can of worms. We needed to consider how our research related to older debates in community studies and urban sociology regarding the significance of place, neighbourhood and community. More seriously still, it was not clear what theoretical warrant there was for emphasising local processes when, in a globalised world, people and objects were held to be mobile. Furthermore, given the general acceptance that neighbourhoods are not now (even if they ever were) face-to-face communities, how could we understand the salience of place? We became preoccupied by resolving these issues, which led us to put the analysis of middle-class cultures, consumption and lifestyles into a different theoretical frame.

    In the end we have written a book about the nature of local belonging in a global world. We hope that we have cast our local case studies in a way that will be interesting to a wide audience, including people who have no interest in, or knowledge of, the North West of England. The strength of our book, we would like to think, is in the quality of the interviews we carried out. There is no shortage of sophisticated theoretical frameworks, but there is very little empirical research which allows us to explore what globalisation ‘on the ground’ entails. This is the gap that we hope our book addresses in an interesting – and perhaps provocative – way!

    The first chapter rehearses our theoretical concerns and lays out our methodology. Chapter 1 argues that while globalisation theory is deeply concerned with understanding the relationship between the global and the local, we need to distinguish those approaches which see the local simply as an instance of epochal global change, and those which see the local as irritant. Taking up the latter approach through the insights of Arjun Appadurai, Walter Benjamin and Doreen Massey, we show how Pierre Bourdieu's social theory might be extended to understand how people might feel they belong in certain contexts. Chapter 1 also briefly outlines and defends our methodology, and introduces our choice of Manchester as a suitable place to examine these issues.

    Chapter 2 is possibly the most important chapter in the book in introducing our core concept of elective belonging. We show that people's feeling of belonging is not linked to any historical roots they may have in the area. Indeed, those relatively few people who are ‘born and bred’ in the place where they still live often feel ill at ease there. However, we also show that people are critical of those who they see as transients, with no ties to the place they now live in. Our concept of elective belonging argues that places are not characterised by tensions between insiders and outsiders but that instead they are defined as locales for people electing to belong (and not just reside) in specific places.

    This argument is elaborated in later chapters. Chapter 3 shows that bringing up children plays a key role in this process of electing to belong. In-migrants who bring up children, talk about the way that this makes them feel at home. However, following the work of Ball (2002) and Butler and Robson (2003a) we show how such groups are concerned with the local politics of schooling, and how belonging is therefore related to the wider spatial organization of the educational field. Choosing to belong to a place hence involves comparing places and invoking a relational frame of awareness.

    Chapter 4 takes this argument further by showing how people's sense of feeling at home depends not on their attachment to some kind of face-to-face community but to the way that they connect their location to other places that they prize. In a world with global connections, residents routinely associate the place that they live with other places, sometimes places at a significant distance such as London. However, we also show that these kinds of networks of the cultural imaginary are not fully global in scope: the spatial references rarely stretch beyond the British Isles.

    Chapter 5 considers how our respondents talked about the city of Manchester. For all our four areas, Manchester was the nearest major city, and most respondents had very clear and emotive views about the city. We show, however, that the significance of Manchester is not that where people feel loyalty to a community with which they are bound. Rather, people's perceptions of the city are related to their visualisation of its special sites and its role as centre of high culture. We use these findings to criticise arguments associated with the ‘LA School’ regarding the fragmentation and decentralisation of urban space, and lend critical support to Le Gales's recent emphasis on the distinctive character of European cities.

    Chapter 6 considers how work cultures affects the nature of social ties, and allows us to examine the extent of class formation in our four areas. We show that people's friendship patterns and interaction with work colleagues is remarkably differentiated, with little overlap between these spheres. There is relatively little spill over between work and social life, leading us to doubt that there are any marked processes of class formation currently visible.

    Chapter 7 explores the role of the media in the cultural imaginary of our respondents. The media is often seen as central to the organisation of global cultural flows, yet we show how people's media use is more complex than such a view might suppose. People distance themselves from media use, and emphasise their agency choosing what they watch. We show how people are concerned to mark place in their narratives of the media use, and we demonstrate, against the claims of globalisation theory, that the spatial range of most cultural references is highly delimited.

    Chapter 8 focuses specifically on people's global reflexivity to consider how they talked about global issues and connections. We argue for the value of seeing our respondents as part of a British imperial diaspora, with connections spread to other parts of the English speaking world, but with little other contact. We show how limited people's sense of global reflexivity actually is, and argue that the concept of cosmopolitanism has little value in accounting for global awareness. Finally, we lay out our main arguments with respect to globalisation theory in the Conclusion.

    Turning to our acknowledgements, we would like to thank Sage (and Chris Rojek and the Theory, Culture and Society team in particular) for agreeing to publish our book. In a period when it is ever more difficult to publish research-based books, we sincerely thank them for their support, and hope they are happy with the result. Sage's reader, Frank Webster, helped us to sharpen our final manuscript. It should be noted that we have not had space to report all the findings germane to our concerns. Readers who are interested in how our arguments relate to debates on social capital might therefore wish to consult Bagnall et al. (2003), Savage et al. (2004, 2005), on social class (Savage et al. 2004b).

    Needless to say, we have learnt much from many people during this project. First and foremost we are obviously grateful to the ESRC for their support (and more particularly, the support of its referees) without which this book could not have been written. During the early stages of the research project we were guided by a steering group which included Steve Edgell (Salford), Ronnie Frankenberg (Brunel/Keele), Karen Evans (Liverpool), Rosemary Mellor (Manchester), Roger Silverstone (LSE), Derek Wynne (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Roger Burrows (University of York). Rosemary and Derek have both sadly died since the project began and we would like to think that there are traces of their influence in this study. Paul Joyce helped with data analysis. As the book took shape we have benefited enormously from the conversations and interest of Nick Abercrombie, Lisa Adkins, Stephen Ball, Tony Bennett, Talja Blokland, Tim Butler, Eamonn Carrabine, Garry Crawford, Nick Crossley, Fiona Devine, Rob Flynn, Peter Halfpenny, Sylvia Hayes, Helen Hills, Johs Hjellbrekke, Tony Kearon, Dan Laughey, Patrick Legales, Annemarie Money, Bev Skeggs, Alan Warde, and Paul Watt. We certainly have not been able to satisfy them on all the points they have raised, but we are flattered that from their diverse positions they have wanted to engage with our work. Mike would particularly like to thank Fiona Devine, Bev Skeggs and Alan Warde for helping him to explore many of the issues about class, stratification and culture – often over a congenial glass of wine!

    Versions of chapters have been given to the following audiences who we thank for their comments: British Sociological Association Annual Conferences (1997, 1999, 2002); The Legacy of the Frankfurt School in Cultural Studies conference (Salford 1998) Cultural Studies and Interdisciplinarity: Difference, Otherness, Dialogue, Translation conference (Leeds 2000) Cultural Change and Urban Contexts conference (Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan and Salford 2000) Crossroads in Cultural Studies conference (Tampere 2002) the Turkish Oral History Foundation (Istanbul 2003); the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex; Liverpool John Moores University; University of Manchester University of Salford University of Sheffield University of Leicester Open University University of Lancaster and Unilever.

    Finally, Mike would like to thank Helen and Isambard for sharing the experience of ‘elective belonging’ in Withington, South Manchester. Gaynor would like to thank Graham, Claire, and Jack for all their support and especially for ‘dancing on a Saturday night’ and her Mum, Doreen for always being there. Brian would like to thank Bernadette, James and Tim for continuing to share it all.

  • Conclusion

    In the late 1960s a group of eminent urban geographers, planners and sociologists associated with the Centre for Environmental Studies listened to a paper examining ‘developing patterns of urbanisation’ (Cowan and Diamond 1969). This provided an account of anticipated urban trends up to the century end, roughly the time when we conducted our interviews. Placing our findings against these expectations reveals how the expectations of 30 years before had largely been confounded. The paper outlined the dominant trend within Britain towards the creation of one large megalopolis. ‘(T)he dominance of London and the associated belt of almost contiguous urban development that stretches to Leeds and Liverpool will increase and the infant megalopolitan heart of Britain will have come to manhood. The currently projected motorway network will become its High Street’. They went on to add that ‘we have to ask if there is still a discernible regional scale’.

    This assumption of increased national homogeneity and urban centrality looks very different from the world conjured up by our respondents. The identities and practices we have examined are rooted in northern England. London is a long way away, and even those Chorlton residents who hankered after it did so under the assumption that it was a fundamentally different place than Manchester. However, Cowan and Diamond usefully suggested that four city regions would emerge within the large megalopolis. One of these was an urban corridor running from Merseyside, through Manchester, Bradford, Leeds to Humberside, and with a corridor running north to Preston.1 In this book we have argued that the power of place is defined by a large group of those who ‘electively belong’ to a specific residential location which they can make congruent with their lives. This population is largely drawn from those brought up within this northern corridor (with the exception that few have come from Humberside, but they have in addition come from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, as well as parts of rural northern England and the Midlands), and is a group which challenges the traditional dichotomy between locals and cosmopolitans. The opportunities and scope offered by global communication and mobility has allowed the consolidation of a new kind of regional population, no longer defined with respect to a dominant local city, but with highly selective and partial global ties that create distinctive kinds of imaginary belongings.

    This book has therefore been an empirical elaboration of the familiar argument that globalisation constructs local identities, attachments and belonging. However, we have sought to refine our understandings of the precise ways in which this occurs. We have distanced ourselves from any perspective which sees the local as an instance of the global, and have emphasised that it should be seen as an irritant. We do not seek to gloss local distinctiveness behind global generalisations. It is vital to comprehend the particularity of place. In this conclusion we pull together the threads of our analysis to offer our understanding of cultural globalisation in ways that may have broader relevance for other places and locations. We do this by critically reflecting on how our case studies relate to a series of common arguments evident within accounts of globalisation, before concluding with a statement of our own perspective.

    In Chapter 1 we positioned our work as a critique of theories of globalisation that saw it as involving epochal social change. Let us indicate four ways in which our account poses serious problems for these kinds of globalisation theory before we elaborate our own alternative view:

    • The local as defensive response. In the work of Castells, Beck and Bauman, the local is a defensive response to the increasing general power of globalising forces. It thus reinstates the authenticity of the local as a means of challenging the claims of the global to by-pass place. We, however, see very little evidence that the local is historically constructed in this way as a kind of defensive identity. Indeed, historical claims imparting moral priority to long-term residents are rarely found and have limited significance in any of our areas. Most residents talk about their local belonging in terms of the connections which it allows with other places and its convenience for their everyday life. The local is thoroughly implicated in various kinds of global connection and the local can only be understood as a direct product of these. Theoretically, we see this as offering strong support for networked approaches to place identity, such as those championed by Appadurai (1996) and Massey (1994) which do not counter-pose the local with the global, but explore how specific locals are interconnected to produce a complex range of particular geographies.
    • The global as an awareness of the world. From our and a half million words of transcript there is very little evidence that people imbue their narratives of everyday life with some sense of global concern. When talking about their everday lives people do not link their lives to issues of global warming, international relations, or a sense of the world as an arena with a shared destiny. In addition, our respondents had very little cultural contact with much of the world, especially Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Insofar as globalisation is defined as a kind of generic global awareness, we must insist on its empirical limits. Global communications facilitate particular kinds of geographies which appear to reinforce longer term spatial relationships – in our case through elaborating the ties of the former British empire. Although this is theoretically consistent with the arguments of Robertson (1992, 1995) we see it as important to map out the actual kinds of diasporic identities that are fostered, rather than refer to generic ‘global’ identities.
    • Global elite versus local mass. Many theorists argue that globalisation has a clear class dimension which sets apart elites from other social groups. Castells distinguishes mobile elites from static populations. Against global flows, Castells emphasises that labour is organised in local settings, without being networked to other places, leading to conflict between global capital and local labour. Labour is thereby forced to use their stasis as a mobilising principle. This view is echoed by Bauman (1998: 19, 21), who writes that ‘Elites travel in space and travel faster than ever before … [but] the rest of the population finds itself cut off forced to pay the heavy cultural, psychological and political price of their new isolation. This kind of account can be seen in the work of Lash and Urry (1994) on the isolation of the underclass, as well as Friedman (1999). However, we see little evidence for this kind of distinction which rests on a crude class determinism. Many of our Wilmslow residents were members of a global corporate elite, yet it is not clear that they are more culturally mobile than respondents in our other three places. It is true that they are more likely to travel abroad with their work and report slightly higher levels of family and friends abroad. However, their cultural tastes are considerably more parochial and ‘national’ than those found in the other areas. They rarely have any developed sense of global reflexivity, and most of them explain their attachment to place in terms of their emotional investment in the north of England, where they were often brought up and have continuing kinship ties. The problem here is in part the remarkably crude distinction between elites and the rest, which is hardly convincing given the abundant evidence for more fine grained and complex differentiation between social groups.2 More fundamentally than this, however, such writers appeal to a crude form of class determinism in order to account for the local, but they lack a theory of class as an integral aspect of contemporary globalisation. It is therefore odd that a writer such as Bauman who has staked his colours to the ‘end of class’ idea should in the end rely on some kind of class analysis – albeit one which has learned nothing from the sophisticated debate about meaning and nature of class relations which has raged in recent years.3 It is not coincidental that those writers who have a class centred interpretation of global social change, such as Sklair (1997), are in fact sceptical of many of the claims of globalisation. Rather than assuming that labour is ‘local’ it is surely crucial to decompose different forms of ‘labour’, learning from the extensive debates about how to understand the nature of the middle classes (e.g. Abercrombie and Urry 1983; Savage et al. 1992; Butler and Savage 1995).
    • Locals vs cosmopolitans. If we have achieved one thing in this book, we hope it is to debunk the idea that the distinction between these two groups is of major contemporary significance. We have seen that there are few ‘locals’ who are still living in areas that they were ‘born and bred’, and where such locals do exist (notably in Cheadle) they often feel they do not belong but rather think of themselves as marginal. The weakness of these locals allows us also rethink cosmopolitan identities in different ways to Hannerz (1996), Urry (2002) and Beck (2002), who see cosmopolitans in terms of ‘their willingness to engage with the other’ (Hannerz 1996: 103). Such accounts fail to register that given the limits of distinctively ‘local’ cultures, this willingness takes a particularly self-referential form, in which people seek security through identifying with other similar places. When distinctive local cultures can be detected, cosmopolitans can identify themselves in relation to them. This point is indeed made by Hannerz (1996) Beck (2002) and Urry (2002: 137), but they then fail to realise that when local cultures dissipate, the cosmopolitan project loses clear terms of reference, since it can no longer define itself against a bounded ‘other’. Instead, it appears to become a search for reassurance which seeks sustenance through reference to ‘other’ similar cultures. Its dialogical qualities therefore have clear limits. Thus, Urry's (2002: 137) portrait of a cosmopolitan fluidity which involves ‘the capacity to live simultaneously in both the global and the local, in the distant and proximate, in the universal and particular’ fails to recognise that the ‘global’ becomes identified with other cosmopolitan ‘proximates’ (London), and that globalising processes actually lead to a circular frame of cosmopolitan reference in which encounters with the ‘non-culturally privileged other’ are foreclosed. We have traced the significance of this self-referential cosmopolitanism especially with respect to our Chorlton residents. This group claims a cosmopolitan identity, yet it is one that in some respects effaces the ‘other’. Its members have little to do, practically, with local residents, and they have little awareness of the significance of other social groups living in the area. They are attracted to the idea of appreciating global cultures yet their actual cultural reference points show very little engagement with cultures outside the English speaking metropolises. They have intense local knowledge of the area and often moved to the place because of their range of face-to-face social contacts in the area. In short, they do not empirically sustain the kinds of claims that Beck (2002: 27), for instance makes of them in which cosmopolitanism is ‘an imagination of a globally shared collective future’. Nor does this account support the arguments of Urry, Bauman and Turner that cosmopolitanism can be seen as related to ‘irony’ and distance from place. In fact, Chorlton cosmopolitans are highly at home in their surrounds and often have a dense range of social contacts near where they live. Emprically ‘actually existing cosmopolitans’ do not seem to redeem the hope placed on them by contemporary social theorists.
    An Alternative Approach

    We are now in a position to lay out our alternative approach to understanding the dynamics of globalisation and belonging. This can most easily be done in the form of a series of points:

    • The precise form and nature of global connections depends strongly on the precise field of practice that is being studied. Rather than an epochal shift from a modern to global society, we need to recognise that fields vary in their spatial extension and scope. Some of these fields – for instance music and cinema – deploy IT to permit considerable spatial extension, yet other fields, notably that of residence, do not. Despite the claims of some postmodern theorists that we are witnessing the de-differentiation of fields (Lash 1990) we argued in Chapter 6 that fields are clearly differentiated from one another, with social networks of residence, work, and friendship rarely overlapping. We are not in a position to assess whether these findings are new, since we have no historical data, but we would argue that our interpretation is consistent with a view that current globalisation is at best a deepening of long-term trends towards social differentiation.
    • Within these differentiated fields, residential space is a key arena in which respondents define their social position. If only because it remains rare to have multiple residences, residence plays an increasingly important role vis-à-vis other fields in defining one's own sense of social location. In addition, residential space is crucial also in allowing people access to other fields, such as that of education, employment, and various cultural fields. One's residence is a crucial, possibly the crucial, identifier of who you are. The sorting processes by which people chose to live in certain places and others leave is at the heart of contemporary battles over social distinction. Rather than seeing wider social identities as arising out of the field of employment it would be more promising to examine their relationship to residential location.
    • Places are defined not as historical residues of the local, or simply as sites where one happens to live, but as sites chosen by particular social groups wishing to announce their identities. While retaining the traditional Chicago school emphasis on urban space as a habitat, we argue that places offer visions of living which do not depend on the character of face-to-face relationships, or the historical character of the place. In all four areas there are striking congruences between the capitals of the residents and their sense of feeling at home. Chorlton appeals to those with cultural capital and moderate amounts of economic capital. Wilmslow appeals to those with large amounts of economic capital and moderate amounts of cultural capital, while Ramsbottom is favoured by the upwardly mobile without large amounts of cultural capital.
    • Elective belonging involves people moving to a place and putting down roots. It evokes a distinctive form of temporality suspended between the ‘glacial time’ of long-term history, and the instantaneous time of the present through the way that people identify a moment when they commit to a place. People feel they belong when they are able to biographically make sense of their decision to move to a particular place, and their sense of belonging is hence linked to this contingent tie between themselves and their surrounds. We see the concept of elective belonging as preferable to that of ‘outside belonging’ (Probyn 1996) since the latter depends for its analytical power on an alternative notion of ‘inside belonging’ which is largely absent. Elective belonging is a way of dealing, at the personal level with people's relative fixity in local routines of work, household relationships, and leisure on the one hand, and the mobility of their cultural imaginations on the other. Most respondents were embedded in their place of residence, and few could easily ‘up sticks’. However, people routinely invoked a networked sense of place, comparing their locations with those that were meaningful and important to them through the infrastructure of global communications – tourism, the media, and so forth. We see these findings as exemplifying Appadurai's (1996) arguments concerning the significance of the organisation of the imagination, as well as Tomlinson's (1997) emphasis that globalisation is significant not so much in allowing new forms of mobility but in transforming places.
    • Identities are developed through the networked geography of places articulated together. In our research these can be seen to operate at a variety of spatial scales. Most globally, we have detected a white, Anglophone diaspora. Here respondents feel at home among the cultural values and objects of English, American and (to a much lesser extent) Australian and Canadian nations. Reference is occasionally made to cultures outside these zones, but they are nearly always seen as ‘difficult’ or ‘exceptional’. Less powerful, and to some extent cutting across this, there are networks of global urban spaces, concentrating especially on the connections (or lack of) between Manchester and London, but sometimes extending into comparisons with other world cities, mostly in Europe. Thirdly, there is a powerful regional cultural geography enmeshed in our respondents' identities. The specific places to which they have moved offer a distinctive location within the north of England. The regional level is especially important since it is often within the broadly defined north (rather than the local level) that respondents have kinship ties and emotional connections. One of the striking and largely unexpected findings from our research is the limited significance of the national frame of reference in people's cultural imaginaries. Many of our respondents can be seen as being part of a ‘northern English white middle class’.

    These five points are all anchored in the empirical findings of our book but, we contend, offer an approach which might have application elsewhere. However, this is for others to judge.

    Notes

    1 The other three city regions were expected to be (a) the South East, with corridors running east to Ipswich, north to Northampton, west to Swindon, and south to Portsmouth and Southampton, (b) Severnside, running from Bristol west to Swansea, north to Gloucester and east to Bath and (c) the Midlands.

    2 The use of the concept of elite, rather than class, is of course instructive here.

    3 Examples of such work debates are to be found in Scott 1996, Crompton 1998, Crompton et al. 2000, Devine et al. 2003.

    Appendix: List of Interviews

    Cheadle Area
    Chorlton Area
    Ramsbottom Area
    Wilmslow Area

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