People like us: gentrification and the service class in Hackney in the 1980s

Butler, Timothy S. C. (1992). People like us: gentrification and the service class in Hackney in the 1980s. PhD thesis The Open University.



This is a study of service-class residents in Hackney, an inner London borough situated directly to the north of the City of London. The main focus of the study is on why these people chose to live in Hackney in the first place, why they have stayed and what influence living in Hackney has had on their social and political attitudes.

Chapters two to four are concerned with debates about the structure and class formation of the service-class, whether it is one class or many, what (if any) are its political allegiances, and the relationship between the service-class and gentrification. Chapter five considers the changes which have taken place in London and Hackney over the last fifteen years. Chapter six introduces the empirical basis for this discussion: a survey of 245 largely service-class recent homebuyers in two areas of Hackney.

Chapters seven to nine present these findings which show that the respondents are representative of a distinct, and elite, sub-group of the service class, in terms of their family background, their income and occupation and in their social and political attitudes. Whilst many respondents initially came to Hackney because of its cheap housing and central location, their reasons for staying have more to do with the cultural significance of living in inner London. This, in turn, has had important consequences for their social, cultural and political behaviour.

The concluding chapter suggests that there are 'locality effects' observable in the behaviour and attitudes of service-class residents in Hackney which are reasons for living in inner London and consequences of living there. There are also significant differences between the two areas studied which may have implications for the internal formation of the service-class even within a spatially delimited area, such as inner London.

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