“The feel of the place”: Investigating atmosphere with the residents of a modernist housing estate

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Atmosphere is a neglected topic in social work and so this article considers the production of atmospheres amongst the residents of an extant 1960s housing scheme in Edinburgh (UK). This is in order to address not only the complexity of feelings about living on such an estate but also to consider what consequences the paying of attention to atmosphere’s production and effects might have for a social work concern with welfare and wellbeing. The article is based upon semi-structured and walking interviews with 17 residents – council or private renters and home-owners – of Claremont Court, a mixed, low-rise estate and analyses their description and crafting of atmosphere as a way to understand questions of belonging, welfare and community in situ. After reviewing some existing research on atmosphere and outlining methodological issues relating to the Claremont Court project, the article goes on to consider how residents described their feelings about or sense of the estate and its design before discussing the emergence of contradictory narratives about home. The production of narratives about those needing welfare support is particularly pertinent to atmospheric accounts of the housing scheme and so the article addresses this before finally making an argument for the relevance of immersive and emplaced accounts of space and place for both social work practice and research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2020


  • community
  • housing
  • neighbourhood
  • othering
  • social welfare
  • stigma


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