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.
Chapter 2: The Precursors to Geodemographic Classification
The Precursors to Geodemographic Classification
Charles Booth’s Descriptive Map of London Poverty
The previous chapter highlighted how discussion of the city is often hampered by the absence of any consistent taxonomy for describing different types of residential neighbourhood. It introduced a concept which might be capable of addressing this deficiency, that of geodemographic classification. This chapter explores the key methodological and conceptual innovations that prefigured the emergence of such classifications in the 1970s. The most celebrated of these are the maps of London poverty created by Charles Booth in the final decades of the nineteenth century and the models of urban structure developed by the Chicago School of Sociology in the 1920s and 1930s.
From the 1940s onwards general theories of urban ...