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 5: Who Do They Think You Are?: Capturing the Changing Face of British Society
Who Do They Think You Are?: Capturing the Changing Face of British Society
How well do geodemographic classifications reflect changes in British neighbourhoods?
The year when Webber moved from the realm of public policy at the CES to the world of commerce at CACI, 1979, also happened to be the year when Margaret Thatcher’s first administration was elected. One of its earliest actions was to close the CES.1
It would be reasonable to suppose that the manner in which geodemographic categories were labelled would be affected by this change and that whatever sociological insights that the practice of geodemographic classification had acquired would be lost. This is not how it turned out and the ...