ABSTRACT

This paper draws on a qualitative data set from a recently completed research project that uses education as a lens through which to understand social and place relations in super-diverse and gentrifying London geographies. Focusing on the collective sharing of a social resource and the (contradictory) social and spatial dynamics of conviviality, the paper argues that adult participants found primary schools to be a source of social exchange. Their relationships with other parents varied from interactions consisting of casual greetings to close friendships within school spaces but also outside of these, in the social spaces of the schools’ localities and in participants’ home spaces. We suggest that even if exchange is mostly avoided or is slight, the situated and sustained nature of being part of primary school worlds require social interactions between different others which we describe as civic conviviality. Exploring this process, the paper argues that attention to the micro-social geographies of conviviality, friendship-making and the collective use of shared resources show how complex, stratified populations manage encounters that are shaped by sustained proximities.