Spatial Imaginaries and Geographic Division within the UK: Uneven Economic Development, Ethnicity and National Identity

Michael Donnelly, Sol Gamsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article provides an account of how spatial divisions permeate imaginaries of the UK’s geography, drawing on a large qualitative data-set on the locational choices of young adults. The data we draw from are unique in their multi-sited design, which includes accounts of how young people look upon the UK’s internal geography from 17 geographic vantage points, that span the four UK nations and each region of England. Data collection involved an innovative mapping exercise capturing how their spatial imaginaries are relationally constructed, and the demarcation of spatial boundaries. Drawing parallels with research on the way divisions are constructed globally by internationally mobile students, we argue that the young adults’ spatial imaginaries were infused with intranational boundaries of uneven economic development, national identity and ethnicity. Their spatial imaginaries and the geographic divisions they embody have important implications for public policy that seeks to redress spatial inequality within nations like the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1235
JournalSociology
Volume56
Issue number6
Early online date10 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: this research was funded by the ESRC Economic and Social Research Council (grant no. ES/N002121/1).

Keywords

  • ethnicity and nationhood
  • geographic division
  • intranational boundaries
  • student mobility
  • uneven economic development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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