Rubbing Along: Proximity and Understandings of Difference

  • James Rosbrook-Thompson
  • Gary Armstrong
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology book series (PSUA)


In this chapter, we examine how LG residents approached the issue of human variation. More specifically, we explore their attitudes to migration and ethnicity, along with the notions of difference invoked when explaining the behaviours of neighbours and fellow residents. In doing so, we draw on studies of superdiversity, particularly Susanne Wessendorf’s (2013, Commonplace Diversity: Social Relations in a Super-Diverse Context; Journal of Cultural Studies, 17(4), 392–405, 2014) research on levels and types of cross-class and -ethnic engagement in east London, as well as David Goodhart’s (The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics, 2017) recent work on identity and the rise of populism in the guise of ‘Brexit’ and the election of Donald Trump in the United States. Although lots of engagement across ethnic and class lines occurred in and around the estate, for some residents a set of perceived differences rooted in class and ethnicity remained the cause of tension. Furthermore, any private gatherings tended to be characterised by shared class status. Indeed, in some instances the cross-class and -ethnic engagement that did occur within private space pointed up differences which undercut the sense of commonality that occasioned the engagement in the first place.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Rosbrook-Thompson
    • 1
  • Gary Armstrong
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesAnglia Ruskin UniversityCambridgeUK
  2. 2.College of Business, Arts and Social SciencesBrunel University LondonUxbridgeUK

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