Monday, 30 November 2015

Stereotypes of East, West, South, and North London

"The language people use about places provides a valuable insight into this personal experience and the image may be studied through their descriptions. It is through these descriptions of places that stereotypes have the greatest potential for development. Stereotypes have been recognized as an important element in urban and regional perception (...)."
Jacquelin A. Burgess (1974)

According to a survey among 1294 Londoners carried out by YouGov in January 2014, each of the four London sub-regions has a distinct "brand". People were presented a list of adjectives and asked which of the four areas they associated with the adjectives (and stereotypes).The map based on the adjectives visualises the tendency to describe the regions mostly in a contrasting manner: the posh West, the poor East, the intellectual North, the rough South (via).

The "intellectual North" is associated with adjectives such as "cosmopolitan, suburban, rough, family friendly, and trendy", the "rough South" with "suburban, poor, cosmopolitan, up and coming, family friendly and gritty". The contrast between East and West is the most distinct one with the "poor East" being associated with "rough, dirty, gritty, up and coming, and cosmoplitan" and the "posh West" described as "cosmopolitan, suburban, trendy, pretentious, cultured and family friendly" (via). As Burgess (1974) says, stereotypes are an important element in urban perception. And, they emphasise differences.

Trent Gillaspie posted his "Judgmental Denver Map" on Facebook in January 2013. Since then, a great many stereotyped, opinionated, biased maps (among them London) have been submitted, some of them causing a lot of irritation. His motto: "As long as you offend everyone you possibly can, it ends up making it OK." (via). Interesting philosophy.

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- Burgess, J. A. (1974). Stereotypes and urban images. Area, 6(3), 167-171.
- photographs of London (one and two taken in Carnaby Street) via and via and via


  1. Replies
    1. It's somehow amusing, isn't it? Thanks, Kenneth!

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