How We Share Space: Social Categorization Processes at Work in a Residential Street Prostitution Area

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Übungsraum 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Kristien GILLIS, University of Antwerp, Belgium
In the center of Brussels, Belgium a couple of streets form the Alhambra neighbourhood. This neighbourhood is visited and inhabited by a variety of people since Alhambra is not only a residential area but also a commercial, cultural and a street prostitution area.

Although the Alhambra neighbourhood has a longstanding red light tradition, it's existence is threatened by gentrification processes. This sets the scene for urban unrest not only with people who bought property or opened a business but also for those working in and around street prostitution in this area. This results in small but provoking actions such as benches that are removed on demand of a group of residents who aim to discourage the presence of street sex workers but also street sex workers who harass residents with noise or litter. Interestingly, however, is that not all residents, commercants or sex workers perceive urban unrest. 

This ethnographic research focuses on the perceived rest and unrest in the Alhambra area. In order to understand when rest or unrest emerges, we take a look at the social categorization process. By looking at the social categorization process, this research tries to understand when rests shifts into unrest and vice versa. The social categorization process gives us better insight in how and why actors categorize others and position themselves at the same time. This presentation reports on the different or shifting positions and categories that emerge in this area and how such categories and positions can only be understood by taking into account the everyday context of the Alhambra area.