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Alienation and Authenticity in Brixton: An ethnography of a changing neighbourhood

Barton, SNF; (2017) Alienation and Authenticity in Brixton: An ethnography of a changing neighbourhood. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Brixton this thesis documents a neighbourhood undergoing rapid change. In response to the changing nature of the neighbourhood the research observes multiple competing claims to authenticity, arguing that these claims are made in response to the sense of alienation that arises from the messy transformations that Brixton has undergone. The thesis distinguishes between two different forms of authenticity, making this distinction in terms of the relationship between claims to authenticity and experiences of alienation. It argues that those claims to authenticity which are based on external referents produce alienation, and those which are centred on experience and encounter are un-alienated forms of authenticity. These conceptual concerns are interwoven with a fine-grained account of the fieldwork to create a rich document of the neighbourhood. The research is centred on two sites, a restaurant in Brixton village market and a nearby soup kitchen. These sites are situated in a historical context both in terms of recent changes to the neighbourhood, since 2009, and a larger perspective of Brixton starting with its beginnings as a middle-class suburb in the 19th century. The empirical aspects of this project focus on maintaining a messy epistemology of the city which can accommodate complexities and contradictions which are characteristic of the neighbourhood, and arguably cities in general. In doing so a rich narrative is developed which starts by describing a large protest, and continues to make an account of the transformation of the covered markets before focussing on the field sites. In the final chapter of the thesis a challenging account is made of some of the consequences of the neighbourhood’s transformation on some of the neighbourhood’s most marginalised, this is built around a chapter about food, one about conspiracy theories and playing cards.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Alienation and Authenticity in Brixton: An ethnography of a changing neighbourhood
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10028038
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