A view through a window: Social relations, material objects and locality


In this article the authors ask what it would mean to think sociologically about the window as a specific material and symbolic object. Drawing on qualitative analysis of a series of comparative interviews with residents in three different streets in a diverse local area of Glasgow, they explore what the use and experience of windows tells us about their respondents’ very different relationships to the places where they live. On the one hand, the window, as a material feature of the home, helps us grasp the lived reality of class inequality and how such inequality shapes people’s day-to-day experience. On the other hand, windows are symbolically charged objects, existing at the border of the domestic and public world. For this reason, they feature in important ways in local debates over the appearance, ownership and conservation of the built environment. The article explores these struggles, and shows what they reveal about the construction of belonging in the neighbourhood, a process which is both classed and racialised at one and the same time.


Shirin Hirsch

Andrew Smith

Projects associated with this research:

Location dynamics, owner occupation and ethnicity in Scotland

Journal: The Sociological Review
Article first published on-line: July 28, 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026117724068