Changing boundaries and meanings of the home : a case study of middle class houses in Sri Lanka
The thesis is a detailed study of the changing middle class home in contemporary Sri Lanka. It examines whether and how the interaction of spatial boundaries and embodied meanings have changed as a consequence of current social change. Results suggests that the middle class home in Sri Lanka has transformed from a ‘pre-open economy‘ model and stabilised into a new a ‘post-open economy model’, after the free-trade regime was introduced in 1977. Quantitative analysis of forty house plans investigated through space – syntax and statistical tools suggested that configurations, thresholds, positions and vistas of space have been organised and controlled to create generic spatial patterns in two alternative models, corresponding to pre and post open economy periods. Qualitative analysis through accounts of home lives by women that the ‘pre-open economy model’ was first socially constructed during the British Colonial Period (BCP), which embodied behaviours of a strongly institutionalised home life. A ‘lifestyle’ constructed within Victorian ideals with a strong emphasis on power structures of the institution of the family was embodied in the spatial classification of the BCP home. Quantitative analysis also suggested that the ‘pre-open economy’ spatial classification has transformed and stabilised into an alternative model in recent years as a ‘post-open economy’ model. Published records in Sri Lanka suggests that indicators of social change that affect gender issues such as roles and position of women, decline in domestic services, transformation of family structures, merging of conjugal roles and distancing from the neighbourhood as a community, are global phenomena, known to change during urbanisation in other contexts, for example during industrialisation and in the post-war periods in the UK society. Interestingly, such global phenomena have acquired spatial forms, which are conditional to the socio-historical structures in which the Sri Lankan middle class evolved. Qualitative analysis of accounts of home lives by women living from the post-open economy period revealed a ‘user oriented lifestyle’ and social boundaries between categories of users such as the family, visitor and outsiders have acquired novel forms of inclusion and exclusion. Thus, the synthesis of quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis suggest that changing spatial organisation relates to new forms of social solidarity seen to be consequential to larger social changes effected by the open-economy.