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Consuming visibility: London's new spaces of gay nightlife

Andersson, J.; (2008) Consuming visibility: London's new spaces of gay nightlife. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis examines the significant growth and increased visibility of commercial gay nightlile in London since 1990. Focusing primarily on clusters ot gay bars and clubs, the research critically explores the entrepreneurial marketing of particular locales as gay villages or alternative centres for queer nightlife. The cultural themes and aesthetic branding strategies used by both nightlife entrepreneurs and the media are analysed with particular reference to place-marketing, consumption habits, music, fashion, 'aesthetic labour' and design. Combining interview material with ethnographic data based on extensive participant observation and analysis of newspaper coverage and popular representations in cinema and literature, the thesis mobilises methodological approaches lrom cultural geography, cultural studies and sociology. The relationship between distinct clusters of gay nightlile and their particular locales forms an overarching focus of the research. Emphasis is placed on how locally specific historical and geographical imaginations, typically associated with class and ethnicity, have been appropriated by club, bar and media entrepreneurs in efforts to brand London's new gay venues. By highlighting local specificity on London's gay scene - and stressing how commercial interests have marketed local, national, cosmopolitan and diasporic themes - the research challenges the dominant view that globalisation is leading to an international homogenisation of gay culture. Wilhin the overall focus on London, an intra-urban comparative framework is deployed to highlight the specificity of individual locales, which contests more generalised lheories of urban change and regeneration. The expansion of a commercial gay scene is contrasted with a reduction in non-commercial meeting places, exemplified by the clamp-down on public sex cultures in London over the past decade. The thesis suggests that the increase in commercial gay leisure spaces is inversely related to a decrease in non-commercial social and sexual spaces - an argument which is contextualised in relation to wider debates around neoliberalism, entrepreneurial forms of urban governance and the privatisation of public space.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Consuming visibility: London's new spaces of gay nightlife
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Planning

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