Accent and the manifestation of spatialised class structure

Michael Donnelly, Sol Gamsu, Alex Baratta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


There is long-standing interest within sociological debate to understand social class inequality spatially. We contribute to this debate by using a spatially differentiated understanding of accent, used here as a ‘window’ to observe the formation of socio-economic difference across space. From a spatial perspective, using the work of Doreen Massey, we draw on a unique multi-sited qualitative dataset, which contains the narratives of over 200 young people (aged 16/17) across 17 UK localities, spanning all nine English regions and the three ‘home’ nations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It was a purposefully designed sample intended to capture the field of social relations across geographic space. Accent emerged as a signifier of the spatial manifestation in class boundaries and points of socio-economic difference. Diverse groups are complicit in the construction of normative accents, and the ‘othering’ of accents belonging to historically dominated places and regions. We observe here not only spatial differentiation within social class groups, but the ethnic solidarities that emerge as a consequence of marginalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101630
JournalThe Sociological Review
Early online date22 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/N002121/1)


  • accent
  • Bourdieu
  • class
  • Massey
  • spatial class structure
  • spatial inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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