Fitting into Place?

Class and Gender Geographies and Temporalities

Fitting into Place? LOOK INSIDE
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  • Yvette Taylor, London South Bank University, UK
  • Fitting into Place adopts a multi-dimensional interdisciplinary approach to explore shifting geographies and temporalities that re-constitute 'city publics' - and the place of the 'public sociologist'. Class, race and gender (dis)advantages are situated in relation to urban-rural contrasts, where 'future selves' are reconfigured in and through 'local' and 'global' sites: people inhabit shifting times and places, from industrial landscapes of the 'past', to a current present and (imagined) 'cosmopolitan' 'regenerated' future. The rhetorics and vocabularies of place, as affective and material, suggest a more complex 'fit' than the language of masculine 'crisis' for past-times, or 'feminised' fit into new-futures, suggests. Across the generations, women's labour is still effaced as maps of loyalty hold up families as reference points of belonging and 'fitting in'; such architecture of place complicates reified 'geographies of choice' which centre a middle-class mobile subject. Based upon funded empirical research, this book will be of interest to sociologists and geographers.
  • Contents: Fitting into place? Class and gender geographies and temporalities; 'City publics' and the 'public sociologist'; Affective geographies: regional re-framings; Geographies of choice (or not); Fertile spaces: landscaping gender; Geographies of excess: 'what's in a name, what's in a number?'; Regeneration and degeneration: proximities and distances; Conclusion: returns and escapes; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
  • About the Author: Yvette Taylor is a Professor and Head of the Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research at the London South Bank University, UK and editor of Classed Intersections: Spaces, Selves, Knowledges.
  • Reviews: Prize: Honoured at the Geographical Perspectives on Women Book Event at the 2012 AAG

    'Fitting into Place? is a major contribution to our understanding of gender and social class inequalities in the twenty-first century. Strongly theorised, yet powerfully grounded in a range of voices across social difference, its rich tapestry of qualitative research weaves together space and place with actions, attitudes and the affective. The book is "a must-read" for anyone interested in contemporary class and gender formation.'
    Diane Reay, University of Cambridge, UK

    'Yvette Taylor's extraordinary book brings out into the open the structural violence of social class in Britain. It is much more than just a trenchant analysis. Through her profound attentiveness to the lives of working class women in the north east we access a deep sense of how the complexities of de-industrialisation furnish the cultural landscapes of class and gender. The result is an expansive and textured account of working class life beyond anything that Orwell and Hoggart could have achieved. This is a book that needs to be read urgently by politicians and policy makers but also by theorists of urban life who rarely get close to the experiences documented in this book and what it means to live with the structure forces that fit people in to place.'
    Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

    'It may be bad practice to judge a book by its cover, but the hand-drawn map covering Fitting into Place offers the reader a tantalising clue to some of the book's major themes - women, class, reflexivity and narrative. The cover echoes on a larger scale the mapping techniques used with some participants, a nod to its qualitative, multi-methods approach… The research certainly offers insights of relevance to many places which have undergone similar economic transitions. An illuminating discussion of the ways in which research can be silenced, edited and reinterpreted by end-users is also presented here… In drawing on 97 in-depth accounts of both working class and middle class women of a wide age-range (15-84 years old), Taylor is able to address questions of who has choice, who 'belongs' in places and how inequalities resonate across space and time. The strength of this approach lies in being able to compare classed experiences of belonging, which is done effectively throughout, while highlighting intersections with gendered landscapes… The book is impressive in enabling a wide range of women to tell their own stories, avoiding the temptation to rely on the most 'quotable' and instead giving a voice to all participants, doing justice to the "unequal voices at play".'
    Sociological Research Online

    'In Fitting Into Place, Yvette Taylor undertakes an ambitious study of the intersectional relationship among social class, gender, race, geography, and temporality, utilizing a multi-methods approach (map drawing, focus groups, interviews, and performances). Taylor challenges the recent trend in sociological thought that regards postmodern understandings of identity as fluid, flexible, multifaceted, and deterritorialized… Against a contemporary context of post-industrialism in which individuals are increasingly expected to transcend economic and social constraints in pursuit of self-regulation, she asks, “which social subjects are able to mobilize and spatialize their interests in order to achieve legitimate subject-positions in these new landscapes?” (p. 2). This challenge to Foucault’s concept of “governmentality” is the central organizing principle of Taylor’s project, which she artfully weaves throughout this book… Taylor is an effective qualitative researcher, mining her interviewees’ empirical accounts (she interviewed both residents and public officials in the North East region) to demonstrate how class and gender are bound in “negotiations and reclamations of the past, present and future even as they are disguised as personal «choice,» individual extensions and regional expansions” (p. 71)… Taylor makes a strong case for reconsidering the ways in which social class, gender, and race intersect across time and place… A major strength of this book is that Taylor’s theoretical claims are supported by her substantive empirical findings… the book is superbly researched and crafted. Taylor reminds us that as sociologists we must rethink the interconnection between tradition and futurity, and remain alert to what avenues are closed when we rely solely on postmodern theories of identity. This book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in public policy, urban planning, as well as contemporary class and gender theory.'
    Qualitative Sociology Review
    (A link to this review in full can be found at the bottom of this page)

    'Fitting into Place? Class and Gender Geographies and Temporalities is a sharp analysis of the intersections of class and gender in de-industrialised North East Britain… By focusing on the impact that de-industrialisation has on women’s lives, Yvette Taylor offers a novel and important account of the everyday realities of deindustrialisation and the transition to a post-industrial economy… A particular strength of the book is the richness of its empirical material. The research is grounded in interviews, focus groups and map drawings. Data production is clearly driven by a will to listen to research participants and to ‘do justice to the “unequal voices”’(155) represented in the research rather than by following a rigid methodology. The result is a richly textured, fine-grained account of the everyday lives and perspectives of both working-class and middle-class women. In addition to a multi-methods approach, the research is further enriched by its interdisciplinary approach bringing together perspectives mainly from sociology and geography… In addition to being empirically rich Fitting into Place is a heavily theorised book that resonates well beyond its particular geographical and historical case study. It is particularly strong in the theorising of intersectionality and questions of belonging. The book builds on its empirical material to unpack the ways in which gender, class, age differences and place intersect in everyday life…'
    Gender, Place & Culture