This article is part of a larger research project — ‘Globalising urban bourgeoisies, mobility and rootedness of European middle classes’. We thank the French Ministry of Infrastructure (PUCA) and EU RTN URBEUR for their support. We also wish to thank Edmond Préteceille for his incomparable expertise to measure segregation, François Bonnet for his investment in this research, and all our young colleagues who were involved in the interviewing process.
Controlling the Urban Fabric: The Complex Game of Distance and Proximity in European Upper-Middle-Class Residential Strategies
Article first published online: 16 OCT 2012
© 2012 Urban Research Publications Limited
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Volume 37, Issue 2, pages 576–597, March 2013
How to Cite
Andreotti, A., Le Galès, P. and Fuentes, F. J. M. (2013), Controlling the Urban Fabric: The Complex Game of Distance and Proximity in European Upper-Middle-Class Residential Strategies. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37: 576–597. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2427.2012.01177.x
- Issue published online: 26 FEB 2013
- Article first published online: 16 OCT 2012
- Urban upper-middle classes;
This article presents an open discussion of the processes of urban secession and gentrification in contemporary European cities, arguing that intergroup social dynamics in urban spaces are generally more complex than either extreme mutual avoidance or the colonization of neighbourhoods by the wealthiest groups. We analyse the residential strategies of urban upper-middle class managers in various European metropolitan areas through in-depth semi-structured interviews to argue that these groups develop complex strategies of proximity and distance in relation to other social groups. The development of these ‘partial exit’ strategies takes place through specific combinations of practices that allow groups to select the dimensions they are willing to share with other social groups, and those in which they prefer a more segregated social environment for themselves and their families. The responses of our interviewees were consistently more nuanced and complex than suggested by a simplistic theory about their drive to withdraw from society, forcing us to develop more sophisticated conceptual frameworks to account for the growing prevalence of multi-layered identities and spheres of reference and solidarity, specific combinations of elective segregation and local involvement, and more active patterns of mobility combined with local embeddedness.