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Critical Urban Ethnography: Place, people and power

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Course Information


This two-day course provides advanced training in urban ethnographic research. The course is designed to develop knowledge and understanding of ethnographic research through urban field encounters, and encourages participants to be attentive to how and why ethnography makes sense of the spatial and symbolic dimensions of urban change. The course aims to develop knowledge, understanding and confidence in conducting urban ethnography.

 The course includes field-based training and peripatetic teaching methods focussed on a particular fieldsite — Peckham in South London — alongside classroom-based workshops, in order to explore how places and people are connected to wider urban processes including  discrimination, diversification, mobility and gentrification . 

Course participants will explore the challenges and strengths of urban ethnography through field encounters. In this way, the course inspires experiences that focus both on ethnography as a way of finding out and a process of critical reflection, connecting the particularities of people and places to wider processes of urbanisation.

Course Code


Course Dates

18th May 2017 – 19th May 2017

Places Available

Course Leader

Michaela Benson, Senior Lecturer in Sociology,
Course Description

The course covers:

  • Urban ethnography as a critical research practice;
  • The role of ethnography in understanding urban processes and transformation;
  • The challenges and strengths of doing ethnographic research in/of urban locales;
  • The location of the urban particular within wider social processes;
  • Different modes of writing urban ethnography.

Learning Outcomes (Bulletpoints)

Learning outcomes for participants include:

  • A critical appreciation of urban ethnography and the relationship between everyday life and structures of urban change;
  • Practice-based training in ethnographic research design;
  • The development of research capacity and confidence in conducting urban ethnographic research;
  • Recognition of the relationship between methodology and critical reflection;
  • Knowledge and understanding of how the context of the city is structured by and structuring of people and places, and ethnographic practice
  • Engagement with different scales of space in urban ethnography, reflecting on the different range of data revealed at different scales of analysis.

Target Audience

-       Early to mid-career academics (with an interest in space) in the fields of sociology, urban geography, anthropology;

-       On the ground community groups interested in recording their areas through engaging with social science methods;

-       Planning officers involved in local area regeneration, particularly in areas that are comparatively deprived and ethnically diverse.

 There are no prerequisites for the course. However, a familiarity with urban ethnography - either through prior experience or training — would be valuable

The course will be held at two key sites: Goldsmiths Colleges and Peckham, South London.

Participants are to be aware that the course involves a lot of walking and may not be suitable for those with accessibility needs.

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