Book launch


Realising the city

Urban ethnography in Manchester

Edited by Camilla Lewis and Jessica Symons

Realising the city
This book offers an inside view of Manchester, England demonstrating the complexity of urban dynamics from a range of ethnographic vantage points, including the city’s football clubs, the airport, housing estates, the Gay Village and the city’s annual civic parade. These perspectives help trace the multiple dynamics of a vibrant and rapidly changing post-industrial city, showing how people’s decisions and actions co-produce the city and give it shape.Using the metaphor of the kaleidoscope, with each turn of the wheel, another aspect of the city is materialised. In doing so, the contributors complicate the dominant narrative of Manchester’s renaissance as driven by the city administration’s entrepreneurial ethos. By taking up civic space and resources with council-led cultural representations focused largely on generating financial income for the city, three decades of command-and-control politics has inhibited grassroots and spontaneous forms of emergent publics.

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The city always reinvents itself. Manchester’s contemporary playbook of this script is famously shaped by a new mayoral governance of the city region. But in the shadow of the grand plans, in the interstices of political drivers and economic imperatives, social invention driven by necessity and creativity generates alternative cities. Through vivid ethnographic snapshots that range from the new city commons to the emergent urbanism of the twenty-first century lounge this volume provides unique insights into the new Manchester and a vindication of the ongoing value of contemporary ethnographic scholarship.’
Professor Michael Keith is Director of COMPAS, Co-ordinator of Urban Transformations (The ESRC portfolio of investments and research on cities), and Co-Director of the University of Oxford Future of Cities programme