American Sociological Association

Toward a Social Topography: Status as a Spatial Practice

Sociological theorists have long understood the central role of status distinctions in producing social inequality. Although empirical studies have demonstrated how status hierarchies are reproduced in a broad range of cultural domains, there remains little research into where legitimating cultural practices take place, where they do not, and the role of space itself in producing status differences. As a result, sociologists lack a clear understanding of how status hierarchies give shape to cities and how the structure of cities might be practiced hierarchically. On the basis of interviews at a high-end shopping center in Istanbul, Turkey, I examine how consumers enact social rank in physical space with specific reference to the social contours of their city. Through privileging particular forms of consumption practices within socially and spatially exclusive venues, elites map legitimating values upon the physical shape of the city itself, providing a spatialized understanding of how status inequalities are distributed.


Richer, Z.





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