Reframing Social Tectonics with the Sociology of Everyday Life: Insights from the Public Spaces of a Mixed Housing Neighbourhood

Social mix policies aim to integrate residents living in diverse forms of housing. While numerous studies have showcased the limitations of social mix in achieving this objective, explanations for this tendency remain incomplete. Accordingly, this qualitative case study adopts insights from the sociology of everyday life and interaction ritual theory to elaborate on academic understandings of (non)-interaction between disparate groups in mixed housing communities. It draws primarily from observational fieldwork and semi-structured interview data gathered in the public spaces of a transitioning mid-sized city in Ontario, Canada. The findings report how everyday encounters among and between the urban poor and wealthier residents (re)produce patterns of group solidarity and conflict. The continued application of micro-sociological perspectives to housing mix research can chronicle and perhaps mend the gaps between government housing policy objectives and the experiences of residents living within relevant legislative jurisdictions.



Addie, J. P. D., J. C. Fraser 2019. ‘After Gentrification: Social Mix, Settler Colonialism, and Cruel Optimism in the Transformation of Neighbourhood Space.’ Antipode 51 (5): 1369-1394.

Allen, C., M. Camina, R. Casey, S. Coward, M. Wood. 2005. Nothing Out of the Ordinary: Mixed Tenure, Twenty Years On. Retrieved June 30, 2023 from Urban Rim website

Anderson, E. 2011. The cosmopolitan canopy: Race and civility in everyday life. WW Norton & Company.

Arthurson, K. 2010. ‘Operationalising Social Mix: Spatial Scale, Lifestyle and Stigma as Mediating Points in Resident Interaction.’ Urban Policy and Research 28 (1): 49-63.

August, M. 2008. ‘Social Mix and Canadian Public Housing Redevelopment: Experiences in Toronto.’ Canadian Journal of Urban Research 17 (1): 82-100.

August, M. 2014. ‘Social Mix and Control in Toronto's First Public Housing Redevelopment.’ International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (4): 1160-1180.

Beck, B. 2020. ‘Policing Gentrification: Stops and Low–level Arrests during Demographic Change and Real Estate Reinvestment.’ City & Community 19 (1): 245-272.

Berglund, L. J. Mah, T. Perry, P. Rencher 2022. ‘Missing Older Adults in a Gentrifying Downtown: Detroit's Rebrand for a Young and Talented Pool of Residents.’ International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 46 (6): 973-997.

Butler, T. 2003. ‘Living in the Bubble: Gentrification and its ‘Others’ in North London.’ Urban Studies 40 (12): 2469-2486.

Butler, T. 2007. ‘For Gentrification?’ Environment and Planning A 39 (1): 162-181.

Butler, T., G. Robson 2001. ‘Social Capital, Gentrification and Neighbourhood Change in London: A Comparison of Three South London Neighbourhoods.’ Urban Studies 38 (12): 2145-2162.

Carnegie, A., M. Norris, M. Byrne 2018. ‘Tenure Mixing to Combat Public Housing Stigmatization: External Benefits, Internal Challenges and Contextual Influences in Three Dublin Neighborhoods.’ Cities 79 (September 2018): 12-17.

Collins, R. 1981. ‘On the Microfoundations of Macrosociology.’ American Journal of Sociology 86 (5): 984-1014.

Collins, R. 2004. Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Collins, R. 2014. ‘Interaction Ritual Chains and Collective Effervescence.’ Pp. 299-311 in C. von Scheve, M. Salmella (eds.) Collective Emotions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Collins, R. 2020. ‘Social Distancing as a Critical Test of the Micro-Sociology of Solidarity.’ American Journal of Cultural Sociology 8: 477–497 (2020).

Collins, R., R. Hanneman 1998. ‘Modelling the Interaction Ritual Theory of Solidarity.’ Pp. 213-237 in P. Doreian, T. Fararo (eds.) The Problem of Solidarity: Theories and Models. London: Gordon and Breach.

Collins, C. R., F. Stuart, P. Janulis. 2022. ‘Policing Gentrification or Policing Displacement? Testing the Relationship between Order Maintenance Policing and Neighbourhood Change in Los Angeles.’ Urban Studies 59 (2): 414-433.

de Wilde, M. 2015. ‘Profound Coziness: Affective Citizenship and the Failure to Enact Community in a Dutch Urban Neighborhood.’ Pp. 125-143 in J. Kleres, Y. Albrecht (eds.) Die Ambivalenz der Gefühle: Über die verbindende und widersprüchliche Sozialität von Emotionen. Wiesbaden: Springer.

de Wilde, M., J. W. Duyvendak 2016. ‘Engineering Community Spirit: The Pre-Figurative Politics of Affective Citizenship in Dutch Local Governance.’ Citizenship Studies 20 (8): 973-993.

Dobbs, L., C. Moore 2002. ‘Engaging Communities in Area-based Regeneration: The Role of Participatory Evaluation.’ Policy Studies 23 (3): 157-171.

Doucet, B., D. Koenders 2018. ‘‘At Least it’s not a Ghetto Anymore’: Experiencing Gentrification and ‘False Choice Urbanism’ in Rotterdam’s Afrikaanderwijk.’ Urban Studies 55 (16): 3631-3649.

Doughty, K., M. Lagerqvist 2016 ‘The Ethical Potential of Sound in Public Space: Migrant Pan Flute Music and its Potential to Create Moments of Conviviality in a ‘Failed’ Public Square.’ Emotion, Space and Society 20 (August 2016): 58-67.

Dunn, J. R. 2012. ‘“Socially Mixed” Public Housing Redevelopment as a Destigmatization Strategy in Toronto's Regent Park: A Theoretical Approach and a Research Agenda.’ Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race 9 (1): 87-105.

Durham Region Health Department 2022. The Guide to Health Neighbourhoods. Retrieved June 28, 2023 from

Durkheim, E. 1965. The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. New York: The Free Press.

Earle, B. 2018. Oshawa Social and Economic Trends & Challenges. Retrieved June 28, 2023 from

Fader, J. J. 2021. ‘“I Don’t Have Time for Drama”: Managing Risk and Uncertainty through Network Avoidance.’ Criminology 59 (2): 291-317.

Fletcher, A. J. 2017. ‘Applying Critical Realism in Qualitative Research: Methodology meets Method.’ International Journal of Social Research Methodology 20 (2): 181-194.

Forrest, R., Y. Ngai-ming 2011. Shared Space? Social Mix or Social Tectonics in Contemporary Hong Kong. International Research Committee 21 Conference, 7-9 July 2011, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Gardner, C. B. 1995. Passing by: Gender and Public Harassment. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gee, M. 2023. ‘One night in Oshawa: Overdoses and dramatic rescues offer a glimpse at the opioid crisis.’ The Globe and Mail. Retrieved June 30, 2023, from

Goffman, E. 1955. ‘On Face-Work: An Analysis of Ritual Elements in Social Interaction.’ Psychiatry 18 (3): 213-231.

Goffman, E. 1963a. Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of the Gathering. New York: The Free Press.

Goffman, E. 1963b. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Penguin Books.

Hannerz, U. 1974. ‘Soulside, Washington D.C. in the 1960’s: Black Ghetto Culture and Community.’ Pp. 149-174 in Bell, C., H. Newby (eds.) Sociology of Community: A Collection of Readings. Milton Park: Frank Cass and Company.

Jackson, E., T. Butler 2015. ‘Revisiting ‘Social Tectonics’: The Middle Classes and Social Mix in Gentrifying Neighbourhoods.’ Urban Studies 52 (13): 2349-2365.

Kenna, T., M. O’Sullivan 2014. ‘Imposing Tenure Mix on Residential Neighbourhoods: A Review of Actions to Address Unfinished Housing Estates in the Republic of Ireland.’ Critical Housing Analysis 1 (2): 53-62.

Kim, E. C. 2012. ‘Nonsocial Transient Behavior: Social Disengagement on the Greyhound Bus.’ Symbolic Interaction 35 (3): 267-283.

Lees, L. 2000. ‘A Reappraisal of Gentrification: Towards a ‘Geography of Gentrification’.’ Progress in Human Geography 24 (3): 389-408.

Lofland, L. H. 1973. A World of Strangers. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press.

Martin, L. 2008. ‘Boredom, Drugs, and Schools: Protecting Children in Gentrifying Communities.’ City & Community 7 (4): 331-346.

McNee, G., D. Pojani. 2022. ‘NIMBYism as a Barrier to Housing and Social Mix in San Francisco.’ Journal of Housing and the Built Environment 37 (1): 553-573.

Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing 2020. ‘A Place to Grow: Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.’ Retrieved June 28, 2023 from

Nast, J., T Blokland 2014. ‘Social Mix Revisited: Neighbourhood Institutions as Setting for Boundary Work and Social Capital.’ Sociology 48 (3): 482-499.

Park, R. E. 1926. ‘The Concept of Position in Sociology.’ Papers and Proceedings of the American Sociological Society 20: 1-14.

Pütz, O. 2018. ‘How Strangers Initiate Conversations: Interactions on Public Trains in Germany.’ Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 47 (4): 426-453.

Ralph, P. D. 2018. 2017 City of Oshawa Housing Monitoring Report [DS-18-16]. Retrieved June 30, 2023, from

Robson, G., T. Butler 2001. ‘Coming to Terms with London: Middle‐Class Communities in a Global City.’ International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 25 (1): 70-86.

Rollwagen, H. 2015. ‘Constructing Renters as a Threat to Neighbourhood Safety.’ Housing Studies 30 (1): 1-21.

Sarkissian, W. 1976. ‘The Idea of Social Mix in Town Planning: An Historical Review.’ Urban Studies 13 (3): 231-246.

Shaw, K. S., I. W. Hagemans. 2015. ‘‘Gentrification without Displacement’ and the Consequent Loss of Place: The Effects of Class Transition on Low‐income Residents of Secure Housing in Gentrifying Areas.’ International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39 (2): 323-341.

Suttles, G. D. 1968. The Social Order of the Slum: Ethnicity and Territory in the Inner City. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Szekely, R. 2018. ‘Oshawa sets 10 building records in 2017 boom year.’ Oshawa this Week. Retrieved June 30, 2023, from

Szekely, R. 2019. ‘‘Why do they get to shoot up in the middle of the street?’’ Frustration grows over homelessness in Oshawa.’ Oshawa this Week. Retrieved June 30, 2023, from

van Gent, W. V., W. R. Boterman, M. W. van Grondelle 2016. ‘Surveying the Fault Lines in Social Tectonics; Neighbourhood Boundaries in a Socially-Mixed Renewal Area.’ Housing, Theory and Society 33 (3): 247-267.

Wirth, L. 1938. ‘Urbanism as a Way of Life.’ American Journal of Sociology 44 (1): 1-24.

Please, login first to add a comment.
Document Type
Volume / Issue
10 / 2
Date of publication

Cite this article

Wykes, T. 2023. ‘Reframing Social Tectonics with the Sociology of Everyday Life: Insights from the Public Spaces of a Mixed Housing Neighbourhood.’ Critical Housing Analysis 10 (2): 29-43.