Browsing by Subject "territorial stigma"

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  • Tamminen, Juuda (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This master’s thesis is an ethnographic study about everyday urban encounters and social interaction. It explores how residents in the suburban housing estate of Kontula in East Helsinki negotiate social and cultural difference in their everyday lives. The study focuses on the semi-public spaces of the local shopping centre and examines residents’ capacity to live with difference. The study contributes to a multi-vocal and historically informed understanding of the processes that shape the social landscapes of a socially mixed and multi-ethnic neighbourhood. The study is based on fieldwork carried out in two phases between August 2019 and February 2020. The study applies anthropological methods of participant observation and qualitative interviews. The eleven research participants are adults between the ages of 30 and 71 who live in the neighbourhood and have extensive personal experience of the shopping centre. Although the interviews were a crucial aspect of the meaning-making process, the study relies primarily on participant observation in constructing an interpretation and analysis of social interaction at an intimate scale. In order to contextualise everyday encounters at the shopping centre, this thesis assesses how Kontula, as a stigmatised territory in the urban margins, encapsulates a complex interplay between moral claims of a “good” and “bad” neighbourhood. While some residents confirm negative stereotypes about the shopping centre and bring attention to local social problems and issues of unsafety, others downplay these problems and instead emphasise how tolerant and sociable the shopping centre is. Observations of stigmatised territories reveal how the participation of marginalised individuals and ethnic minorities at the shopping centre challenges the processes and discourses that constitute them as objects of fear and nuisance. The concepts of conviviality and cosmopolitan canopies are used to analyse local social interactions. The analysis suggests that the capacity to live with difference is enabled by ordinary meeting places, such as pubs and cafés, where residents come into regular social contact and engage with diverse individuals and groups. While the maintenance of ethnic boundaries remains salient in the way residents negotiate the social landscapes, these ordinary spaces of encounter situationally reconfigure categories of “us” and “them” and thus expand local meanings of who belongs. The analysis concludes that the contested meanings of belonging and the everyday negotiation of difference are attributes of an open multi-ethnic society coming to terms with difference and change. The analysis suggests that an equal right to participate and interact in shared urban spaces, rather than community consensus, is the hallmark of a society’s capacity to live with difference.
  • Tuominen, Pekka (2020)
    Kontula, a suburban estate at the margins of Helsinki, Finland, has been plagued by a notorious reputation since its construction in the 1960s. At different moments in history, it has reflected failed urbanity, with shifting emphases on issues such as rootlessness, segregation, intergenerational poverty, and unsuccessful integration of immigrants. Unlike many other suburban estates in Helsinki, it has become a potent symbol of the ills of contemporary urbanity in the vernacular geography of the city. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores how its inhabitants experience the dynamic between the internalised stigma and their responses to it. The focus is on how historically formed and spatially defined senses of belonging and exclusion shape their everyday lives and how they have found ways to challenge the dominant perceptions about their homes and neighbourhoods. I argue that an understanding of cultural intimacy, conceptually developed by Michael Herzfeld, offers a useful way to approach the tension between essentialised categories and lived realities. Rather than simply limiting their agency, the shared stigma enables inhabitants to form powerful senses of belonging. The article emphasises how culturally intimate understandings employ both complex historical trajectories and shifts in relative location to question and confront the stigma in the language of mutual trust and belonging.
  • Hyötyläinen, Mika (Helsingfors universitet, 2013)
    This thesis studies the negative labeling of a neighborhood or territorial stigmatization in a residential suburb of Helsinki called Mellunmäki. The purpose of this thesis is to find out whether a territorial stigma features in local residents accounts of the area. The theoretical framework for this thesis is drawn from Loic Wacquant’s idea of a territorial stigma. Wacquant proposes that a negative label or a stigma easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, when the residents of stigmatized areas begin to look for ways of distancing from their neighbors and begin to blame neighbors for the area’s alleged hardships. Another theoretical tool to better study the topic in the Finnish context is drawn from previous research on media depictions of Finnish residential suburbs or lähiös through recent decades. The data has been collected by semi-structured interviews. The residents of Mellunmäki have been interviewed in depth about their experiences and opinions on Mellunmäki. Only by understanding the experiences on an individual level can we say something concrete about the wider phenomenon of territorial stigma. By comparing the collected data, themes have been constructed of the phenomenon. The analysis of these themes provide findings as follows. A stigmatizing discourse is found in Mellunmäki through a distinction between Old and New Mellunmäki. New Mellunmäki is used in local discourse to denote areas of social housing within Mellunmäki. These areas are looked down upon by homeowners in Old Mellunmäki and seen as concentrations of unemployed and immigrants. The lived social realities between new and old areas are marked by a symbolic distancing from neighbors. Mellunmäki was also reported to suffer from a wider stigma of East Helsinki. The bad reputation of East Helsinki was seen as easily affiliated to a rather unknown neighborhood of Mellunmäki. Amongst others, a strong need arises from this thesis for further research on the effects of territorial stigma on neighbor relations.