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Place, Class and Local Circuits of Reproduction: Exploring the Social Geography of Middle-class Childcare in London

Linda McDowell, Kevin Ward, Diane Perrons, Kath Ray and Colette Fagan
Additional contact information
Linda McDowell: School of Geography, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OXI 3QY, UK, linda.mcdowell@ouce.ox.ac.uk.
Kevin Ward: School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK, k.g.ward@man.ac.uk.
Diane Perrons: Gender Institute, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London, WC2 2AE, UK, d.perrons@lse.ac.uk
Kath Ray: Policy Studies Institute, 50 Hanson Street, London, WIW 6UP, UK, kath.ray@psi.org.uk
Colette Fagan: Department of Sociology, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK, colette.fagan@manche.rter.ac.uk

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 12, 2163-2182

Abstract: In a recent revival of the older tradition of community studies, sociologists and geographers have begun to address the changing nature of attachment to locality in contemporary cities in advanced industrial societies. Challenging older definitions of attachment to place, a new form of communal attachment has recently been identified, termed 'elective belonging'. This sense of place is particularly important among the middle classes and is, it is argued, closely associated with the growing significance of reproduction, especially access to schooling, as a key part of the reasons for choosing to live in a particular urban neighbourhood. Sociologists of education have also argued that school choice is important. A recent paper has suggested that pre-school childcare also figures in locational choices and in urban differentiation, leading to different traditions of caring/mothering in different neighbourhoods in London. This paper critically assesses these arguments about school and childcare choices and the associated development of place-based middle-class cultures. Based on an empirical study in three London neighbourhoods, it explores the extent to which occupational position and sector of employment-class-based factors-as well as place-based factors continue to play a key role in the types of opportunities and choices that middle-class households make about childcare.

Date: 2006
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