Realising the city

Urban ethnography in Manchester

Edited by Camilla Lewis and Jessica Symons

Realising the city


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1712-0
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: December 2017
  • BIC Category: Society & social sciences / Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography, Sociology, Geography, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban, Society & social sciences / Anthropology, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development, Local History, Urban Communities, Earth sciences, geography, environment, planning / Urban & municipal planning


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.


'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


Foreword by Kevin Ward
Introduction: tackling the urban through ethnography - Camilla Lewis and Jessica Symons

Part I: Realising urban organisations
1 Inclusion without incorporation: re-imagining Manchester through a new politics of environment - Hannah Knox
2 Nurturing an emergent city: parade making as a cultural trope for urban policy - Jessica Symons
3 Lounge Manchester: the new politics of loungification - Damian O'Doherty

Part II: Realising urban spaces
4 Under the surface of the village: public and private negotiations of urban space in Manchester - Michael Atkins
5 Making and enabling the commons: shared urban spaces and civic engagement in North Manchester - Luciana Lang
6 Urban futures and competing trajectories for Manchester city centre - Elisa Pieri

Part III: Realising urban communities
7 Urban transformation in football: from Manchester United as a 'global leisure brand' to FC United as a 'community club' - George Poulton
8 'People want jobs, they want a life!' Deindustrialisation and loss in East Manchester - Camilla Lewis
9 'Don't call the police on me, I won't call them on you': self-policing as ethical development in North Manchester - Katherine Smith

Afterword: the tension in making and realising a city - Jessica Symons
Select bibliography


Camilla Lewis is a Research Associate in the Sociology Department at the University of Manchester

Jessica Symons is an Urban Anthropologist at the University of Manchester

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