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Title: Spaces of privilege
Author: Noble, Glen
Awarding Body: University of Brighton
Current Institution: University of Brighton
Date of Award: 2012
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There have been extensive developments in 'gay rights' in the past 10 years. This has prompted the contention that some gay white men are increasingly able to access privilege at the expense of continued marginalisation for various gendered, raced and sexual others. Homonormativity describes a process through which gay white male subjects are increasingly understood as normalised and accepted within existing relations of inequalities and that this temporality is accompanied by depoliticisation and tendency towards privatisation and domesticity. I use evidence from 15 in-depth interviews with men drawn from my socio-sexual network in Brighton & Hove and autoethnographic writings in the form of reflective diary entries and short vignettes to develop a complex and fluid understanding of gay white men's spatial practices and experiences of privilege. Compared to processes of marginalisation, the study of privilege has been less prevalent, yet the concept can be found in a broad variety of disciplines and foci of study. Privilege has been predominantly developed 'on the margins' of academia to understand how certain knowledges and identities come to be 'centred'. It is only recently that privilege has been adopted as a critical tool, used to explore the production of inequalities by 'mainstream' academia. The thesis integrates Foucaultian understandings of power with a queer and feminist conception of performativity and critical geographies to contribute an understanding of privilege as processual and situated, able to explore the multiplicity of intersecting spatial practices through which individual experiences are produced occur. This thesis contributes to understandings of privilege, building upon previous work to demonstrate how participants normalise their identities and their positioning within relations of inequality. These normalising practices render the spatial production of privilege invisible through specific discourses of legitimation, in the process (re)producing relations of inequality. I develop this spatial conceptualisation of privilege, by exploring where the participants describe becoming privileged, where they feel restricted, how these processes operate and how they are experienced and understood. By using critical theories of space and place, this thesis works across multiple identities (such as race, class, gender and sexuality) to show the processes through which different individuals may be simultaneously marginalised and privileged by different apparatuses of power relations. I augment discussions of queer temporalities and the spatialities of everyday lives for gay white men by tracing an apparently normative trajectory from 'coming out' through participation in 'gay scene' spaces and towards private domesticity. This process is facilitated by the participants changing abilities to access privilege in different places as they move through their lives. However, my research demonstrates that the participants' spatial practices are not as linear as this normative trajectory suggests. While men in this research are able to access privilege, this is a fragile process, vulnerable to contestation, demonstrating the continued importance of examining processes of heteronormativity. Overall, my work contributes empirical evidence of the manifestation and maintenance of privilege in the spatial practices of gay white men living in Brighton & Hove to develop a nuanced, complex and explicitly spatial understanding of privilege in everyday life.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: L390 Sociology not elsewhere classified