• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

It is not lost on commercial organisations that where we live colours how we view ourselves and others. That is why so many now place us into social groups on the basis of the type of postcode in which we live. Social scientists call this practice “commercial sociology”. Richard Webber originated Acorn and Mosaic, the two most successful geodemographic classifications. Roger Burrows is a critical interdisciplinary social scientist. Together they chart the origins of this practice and explain the challenges it poses to a long-established social scientific beliefs such as: • the role of the questionnaire in an era of “big data” • the primacy of theory • the relationship between qualitative and quantitative modes of understanding • the relevance of visual clues to lay understanding. To help readers evaluate the validity of this form of classification, the book assesses how well geodemographic categories track the emergence of new types of residential neighbourhood and subject a number of key contemporary issues to geodemographic modes of analysis.

A Geodemographic Travelogue
A Geodemographic Travelogue

The aim of the previous five chapters has been to demonstrate how fresh insights into important socio-political issues can be achieved by using neighbourhood type as a basis for organizing data. But what relevance does this method have to the conduct and results of the classic community studies that have been so influential in shaping our understanding of social processes?

There is no doubt that when they commissioned the three studies of Liverpool, Birmingham and Lambeth in 1973, officials in the (then) Department of the Environment believed that the new insights yielded by these studies would be relevant to any city with a decaying inner area. The impact on social scientific thinking of their three studies may not have compared ...

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