You are where you live

Sometimes I come across things that remind me I am not completely in another world when I think that there is something interesting in my chosen PhD topic. This post on Savage Minds, about a marketing website which has come up with descriptive categories for the populations in different American Zip codes, is one of those things (which Matt got from here, they got from here,  and they got from Life Hacker). The post is quite light hearted, of course the first comment is critical of the construction of such categories, and I do not really feel like going into the significance of such marketing models tonight.

The marketing website says,

“People living in the same neighborhoods tend to have similar lifestyles, proving the old adage that “birds of a feather flock together” still holds true. To a large extent, you are where you live!

Nielsen’s lifestyle segmentation systems define every neighborhood in the U.S. in terms of distinct lifestyle types using ground-breaking segmentation techniques. You can get a first look at your neighborhood using the MyBestSegments ZIP Code Look-up.” from http://www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp?ID=20

A lot of the research on places in places such as the USA, the UK and Australia that sees places as linked with who people are describe “poor” places (yes, there is also a significant amount on gated communities and also on suburbia, but much of the research on suburbia is at least 30 years old). There is something entertaining to have that gaze which reduces diverse lives to instrumental descriptions spread more broadly.

In Australia we are still waiting for votes to be counted from the Federal election on the weekend. As always, the election brings calls for proportional representation from people like Bob Brown. Yet I do live in a country where we accept there is enough in geography to elect our lower house, and so government, by a preferential system for electing representatives based on geographic electorates. Clearly, in places like Australia, geography is an administrative reality and the fact that the number of marginal seats is a relatively small proportion of all seats, especially in the State of Victoria, suggests that many of us live with people who vote like us.

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