‘'It's a really nice place to live!': The ethnographic encounter as a space of intergenerational exchange

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This chapter draws on insights from visual sociology and human geography to consider the ethnographic encounter as a space of intergenerational exchange. Building on theoretical developments in children’s geography and sociology (Fox Gotham 2003; Hendrick 2003; Valentine 2008; Vanderbeck and Dunkley 2004) and methodological insights from visual sociology and discursive psy¬chology (Luttrell 2010; Taylor 2010; Wetherell 1998) the chapter considers the ways in which the ethnographic encounter makes visible the complex dynamics of intergenerational relationships and identities in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
The analysis draws on sequences of ethnographic film-making with young people, focusing on exchanges between the child-interviewers and their adult subjects in order to explore the ways in which residents articulate their experiences of life in low-income neighbourhoods. These include sequences in which adults emphasize the positive aspects of community life and disavow wider negative stereotypes and imaginings of poorer places (Parker and Garner 2010). The chapter suggests that these nar¬ratives can be understood as a form of place-making work through which resi¬dents seek to construct a positive identity in the context of dominant stigmatizing narratives about the negative social burden of life in low-income neighbourhoods (Geddes et al. 2010; Pearce 2012).

The chapter argues that these identity practices can offer an alternative per-spective on intergenerational relationships to that offered in policy, practice and media representations of low-income neighbourhoods (Fink and Lomax 2014 in press; McKendrick et al. 2008), not least that these exchanges might serve as collective bonding work between generations and within neighbour¬hoods in response to external identity threats. In addition, following Valen¬tine’s (2008) proposal for an evidenced-based examination of the practices of living and Fox Gotham’s (2003) emphasis on the fluid nature of social iden¬tity, the chapter considers how a focus on lived encounters can enable a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which adults and children negotiate a sense of community and inclusion in the face of significant social and eco¬nomic challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntergenerational Space
EditorsRobert Vanderbeck, Nancy Worth
Pages 65-78
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780203736920
ISBN (Print)9780415855310
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Human Geography


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