Situational ranking and conflict: a bottom-up perspective on urban intergroup life

by Jörg Hüttermann

Working Papers WP 13-09
April 2013
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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The article discusses a trend within some branches of sociology to see urban diversity in general and urban intergroup life in particular from a top down perspective substituting empirical evidence by teleological arguments. To overcome the epistemological and empirical consequences of such sociology the author opts for an approach that focuses on the effects and side-effects of casual everyday actions on space and urban intergroup relations. This perspective would be based essentially on the analysis of figuration-building situational rankings in the figurative fields of the urban community. It is a bottom-up approach that focuses on interactions of avoidance and displacement that frequently occur in everyday life. Its changing patterns shape urban intergroup life. Taking this perspective seriously would bring to light intergroup processes that change local power balances which on their part not only effect the urban figuration of group-based diversity, but can also generate urban conflicts.

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