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Proximité résidentielle

Spaces of distinction, spaces of segregation

Nightlife and consumption in a central neighbourhood of Turin
Espaces de distinction, espaces de ségrégation. Vie nocturne et consommation dans un quartier central de Turin
Magda Bolzoni
p. 59-68


Recent researches have underlined that, despite local specificities, the degree of residential segregation in Southern European cities is generally low, somehow confirming long time assumptions. This paper, however, argues that other forms of spatial segregation might be at work and should be taken into account to investigate social exclusion in daily life. Indeed, by considering not only where people have their home but also which urban spaces they use in their free time, the picture may change. In a frame, such as that of contemporary cities, where consumption has acquired a central role and is overloaded with multiple layers of social meanings, the emergence of landscapes of consumption catering for specific segments of the urban population may play a key role in shaping new forms of exclusion. To develop this argument, the paper focuses on the city of Turin (Italy) and analyses the case of San Salvario, a central neighbourhood that, while being mixed in its demographic composition, presents patterns of segregation in the use and accessibility of public spaces, mainly due to the spatial disposition of spaces of consumption.

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  • 1 L. interview, May 5th, 2011. Resident, female, 28 years old.

Right now I cann ot even keep track of all the new openings, all these new nightspots that are opening, for example, yesterday I was walking and I saw a new place, and then I asked and they told me “you’re right, we opened two days ago”, because it’s really a continuous of new nightspots. And, yes, that might be a superficial transformation, but it is also the most visible one, right? It changes, it really changes the role of the neighbourhood within the city, because beyond the people who live here and stay here, beyond that, because of these entertainments, night-life activities, and so on, also other people perceive the neighbourhood as an attractive, appealing place and come here at night, while it wasn’t like that before.1

  • 2 “A Torino come nel Marais”, Corriere della SeraSette Magazine, March 1st, 2012.
  • 3 ‘New urban middle-class’, or creative class, is here used to refer to people mainly working in in (...)

1San Salvario is a historically mixed, multicultural neighbourhood of Turin, Italy. A few blocks tightened between the main railway station and a big park running along the Po River, right outside the city historical centre. Planned in the mid 19th century, it hosts, in a distance of few hundreds meters, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Muslim places of worship. It has narrow streets, usually one way only, a small but buzzing everyday open-air market, and buildings with commercial spaces on the ground floor and residential units on the upper ones, that followed the principle of vertical segregation. It is a lively, vibrant area that, according to some local media, reminds the Parisian neighbourhood of Marais2. Nowadays, however, its most distinctive characteristic is probably the large crowd of young people, mainly university students and young members of the so-called ‘new urban middle classes’3, hanging out in its streets from late afternoon onwards. Indeed, in the last few years, San Salvario has become the new hip neighbourhood of the city, with trendy restaurants, cafés, pubs and night-time music venues, which attract on a daily (or, maybe better, nightly) basis a great number of young revellers. Mostly Italian, young, educated, middle-class people that, at least for some hours a day, are the only population the neighbourhood seems to have.

2The spatial concentration of social and ethnic groups within the urban space has been a crucial concern of urban studies at least since the Chicago School (cf. for example Park et al., 1925; Wirth, 1928; Zorbaugh, 1929). Developed in time through different theoretical approaches, it has never stopped being an issue of interest, as more recent researches on neighbourhood effect, socio-spatial segregation and social mix well show (cf. between others: Blokland and Van Eijk, 2010; Davidson, 2008; Lees, 2008; Gotham, 2002; MUSTERD, 2005; Uitermark, 2003). Residential segregation has been often considered a proxy of spatial segregation, frequently intended as the spatial concentration in specific areas of one or more social groups (cf. Arbaci, 2008; Barbagli and Pisati, 2012; Maloutas, 2004; Massey and Denton, 1988; Musterd, 2005; Van Kempen and Özüekren, 1998). Generally speaking, European cities present patterns of residential concentration that are very different from the ghetto-type segregation of American cities, and, while the dominant dividing line in the US is race and ethnicity, in Europe it is traditionally class and income (Aalbers, 2006; Wacquant, 2008). In this frame, and despite local specificities, Southern European cities are considered as characterized by a particularly low level of residential segregation (Barbagli and Pisati, 2012; Leontidou, 1990; Maloutas, 2007). However, it has been also underlined that a low level of residential segregation does not necessarily imply an equally low level of social marginalization: the relationship between spatial distance and social distance is indeed complex and manifold (Arbaci, 2008; Maloutas, 2004).

3The case of San Salvario allows to reflect on forms and patterns of spatial segregation that are related to the use and accessibility of urban spaces rather than to the residential distribution of the urban population. Indeed, the paper argues that, as the interest about spatial segregation implies a concern about the spatial forms that processes of social separation and exclusion may take, other forms of segregation, apart from the residential one, are worth of investigation. This appears even more relevant in contexts, such as the Southern European ones, where residential segregation is generally low and therefore it is crucial to examine the presence and relevance of other forms of socio-spatial clustering and segmentation too. The paper suggests to address the issue of segregation in terms of uses of urban public spaces, and urban spaces more in general. It explores forms of spatial segmentation connected to practices of consumption, paying attention to the emergence of neighbourhoods as places of leisure and consumption that cater mostly for the so-called new urban middle classes (Aytar and Rath, 2012; Butler and Robson, 2003; Clark, 2004; Ley, 1996; Zukin, 2010). Consumption works as a way through which social belonging and distinction are built and expressed (Bourdieu, 1979; Featherstone, 1991), and these destinations, targeting specific users, include some while excluding others (Zukin et al., 2009). In this sense, notwithstanding the degree of residential segregation a city may have, segregated urban spaces in terms of everyday use and accessibility may emerge. This issue can be observed not only at a citywide level, questioning the social geography of a city, but also at a neighbourhood level. The concrete and symbolic forms of social exclusion that this process may create are even more visible wherever the targeted users of the cultural, entertainment, consumption businesses are different from the residents or the long-time users of the area. Indeed, in processes of commercial gentrification (Deener, 2007; Rankin, 2008; Wang, 2011; Zukin et al., 2009) and of emergence of neighbourhoods as night-time entertainment districts (Chatterton and Hollands, 2003; Hae, 2011; Ocejo, 2014), the new commercial spaces may cater for users that are strongly (socially, economically, culturally) homogeneous among themselves and yet different from the residents or long-term users, whose everyday practices and uses of urban space may be then disrupted and displaced (Marcuse, 1985). These processes are by no means absent from Southern European cities and ask for careful consideration (cf. Annunziata, 2008; Bolzoni, 2014; Bovone, 2005; Cócola-Gant, 2014; Manzo, 2012; Marzorati, 2010; Semi, 2015; Souliotis, 2013; Van Criekingen and Fleury, 2006).

4The analyses presented in this paper rely on almost two years of ethnographic fieldwork (2011-2012) in the neighbourhood of San Salvario and some follow ups carried out in summer 2013 and in autumn 2014. Different data collection methods were adopted, mainly participant and naturalistic observation, in-depth interviews, archival and media research. The participant observation took place in neighbourhood’s public spaces, commercial activities and public events as well as within some socio-cultural associations. Qualitative in-depth interviews were recorded with four different actors: local authorities (4), association representatives (15), residents (11) and commercial and recreational entrepreneurs (43).

1 - A consumption that excludes

5A growing literature underlines a progressive movement towards leisure and consumption as leading forces within the contemporary society (Dodson, 2000; Featherstone, 1991; Zukin, 1991; 1995). Even if the culture of consumption is not a new phenomenon (Vicari Haddock, 2004), recent decades have witnessed the emergence of consumption as a pervasive logic in which its very boundaries, as well as the distinction between production and consumption, appear increasingly blurred (Dodson, 2000; Zukin, 1991; 1995). Anything can become an object of consumption: not only goods and services, but places, experiences and culture too.

6While much consumption still involves the satisfaction of everyday basic needs, it also implies a strong symbolic dimension: practices of consumption are means to mark social differences, as they draw lines of social relations, acting as communicators (Bourdieu, 1979; Featherstone, 1991; Ley, 1996; Zukin, 1991; 1995). Aside from their material support, the significance of commodities hence lies in the meaning that is related to their position in a self-referential system of signifiers. Consumption should be principally understood as a process in which the signs and the meanings attached to goods are the central elements that are displayed and consumed (Featherstone, 1991). Therefore, consumption is by no means neutral: consumption practices are ways to express social distinction and to reinforce social identity through a classification of tastes and preferences that are socially constructed and culturally situated (Bourdieu, 1979). Spaces of consumption, such as, for example, shops, restaurants and cafés, are not only settings where everyday basic needs are satisfied, but also places that convey symbolic and social meanings and thus support the social positioning and identity of their customers.

7The symbolic connotation of these spaces, moreover, often affects the surrounding streets too: it has been largely acknowledged that the commercial fabric is crucial in shaping the local life and the identity of a neighbourhood (Clark, 2004; Deener, 2007; Jacobs, 1961; Lloyd, 2006; Shaw et al., 2004; Zukin, 2010). Indeed, commercial premises “provide places with their distinct identities” and they serve as the “structure and symbol of neighborhood life” (Deener, 2007: 294).

8In this frame, authentic and gritty neighbourhoods have attracted the attention of the new urban middle-classes, looking for settings that would not only satisfy their material needs but would also support their quest for social distinction (Ley, 1996; Lloyd, 2006; Zukin, 2010). For this variegated social group, sharing the streets with an ethnically-mixed, working-class, alternative and bohemian population is often at the basis of what is considered an authentic urban experience (Lloyd, 2006). Diverse and ethnic neighbourhoods, often on the edge of city-centres, are made accessible, safe and visually appealing to visitors who are usually considerably more affluent than the local original population (Hackworth and Rekers, 2005; Hoffman, 2003; Shaw et al., 2004). The emergence of these neighbourhoods as places of leisure and consumption frequently implies the arrival of upscale commercial spaces catering for consumers that are different from the initial inhabitants, and this often results in processes of commercial gentrification (Deener, 2007; Rankin, 2008; Wang, 2011; Zukin et al., 2009). The new, stylish, commercial spaces embody a powerful discourse of urban change, institutionalizing the consumption practices of more affluent residents and users in place of others and deepening social and economic polarization (Zukin et al., 2009). Cultural consumption is a powerful means of control: by shaping the images, symbols and meanings related to a specific space, certain uses and practices are legitimized while others are dismissed, defining who belongs to specific spaces (DUYVENDAK, 2011; Zukin, 1995; 2010).

9A specific attention should also be devoted to night‑time entertainment businesses, such as cafés, restaurants, pubs and, more in general, night-time venues that attract people from late afternoon throughout the night. Nightlife has been increasingly considered by local authorities a relevant resource to the foster economic redevelopment of post-industrial cities and promote upgrading processes in derelict neighbourhoods. Indeed, by supporting a vibrant social and cultural life, night-time entertainment businesses would attract young professionals of post-industrial sectors as well as temporary users and tourists, so central for the new economy (Chatterton and Hollands, 2003; Clark, 2004; Florida, 2002; Hae, 2011; Ocejo, 2014). However, the arrival and the progressive spatial concentration of businesses orientated towards night-life entertainment may end up in transforming some urban neighbourhoods into nocturnal playgrounds for the cultural consumption of specific users, affecting the economic profile and the established every-day routine of that area (Chatterton and Hollands, 2003; Grazian, 2008; Hae, 2011; Ocejo, 2014). Moreover, the politics of urban nightlife is far from being neutral: alternative and culturally diverse nightlife activities are increasingly pushed out of upgrading neighbourhoods and replaced by gentrified and mainstream forms of nightlife (Chatterton and Hollands, 2002; 2003; Hae, 2011). Indeed, different venues cater for different users, identifying an ideal target that is also the most legitimate to be there. Chatterton and Hollands (2002), for example, distinguish mainstream, alternative and residual playscapes: the first ones are trendy and highly recognizable, the second ones relate to a niche audience, often connected to a youth subculture, while the latter refers to ordinary, traditional, local pubs. Each of them caters for the needs of different consumers, and their proliferation may end up homogenising the landscape not only in terms of commercial typology but also for the social, cultural and economic profile of the preferred users.

2 - An overview of Turin, a city “always on the move”

10Turin is the capital of the Piedmont region, in the North‑West of Italy, and it is the fourth Italian city in terms of population, with around 896 thousand inhabitants in 2015. It has been long known as the city of FIAT, the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy, which has had its headquarters in Turin since its foundation in 1899. For almost a century, the city economy, its urban rhythm, its social and cultural life, have been strongly tied with the industry, establishing Turin as a typical one-company-town and attesting the industrial work as a central feature of its identity (Bagnasco, 1986).

11The crisis of the industrial-centred economy became a crisis of the whole city. Within a new geography of state power (Brenner, 2000), in a context of deep changes in the leading economic sectors, the city had to reinvent itself, imagining new paths of development (Harvey, 1989). Municipal and regional governments, business communities and private-public actors gathered around the adoption of a pro-growth approach, in which the development of leisure, entertainment and tourist consumption played a key role (Belligni and Ravazzi, 2012). Part of the effort has been devoted to establish and transmit a new and attractive image of the city: a city that has been changing, moving away from its fordist past, ready to compete with other cities in attracting flows of people and resources, as the slogan used to re-brand the city in 2006, quoted in the title of this paragraph, well shows. The mega-events promoted in the last fifteen years, such as the Winter Olympic Games in 2006, are the most visible examples of this strategy. The development of night-time entertainment activities was part of this process too: the celebration of Turin as a lively, exciting city and the marketing of the features of creativity, urban culture and street life have acquired a central position in the city branding (Crivello, 2011; Semi, 2004; Vanolo, 2008).

12Within this frame, different districts have emerged in time as landscapes of leisure and consumption: the Quadrilatero Romano and the area around Piazza Vittorio in the first years of the 2000s, San Salvario from 2011 onwards and, more recently, Vanchiglia (Bolzoni, 2014; Crivello, 2011; Semi, 2004; 2015). Even if these processes have taken place in different moments, through different dynamics and with different leading actors, all of them implied a transformation of the commercial fabric. Indeed, in each of these districts it has been possible to note a growing number of places devoted to consumption and entertainment, such as restaurants, cafés, pubs and night‑time venues in general. As suggested by the classification illustrated above (Chatterton and Hollands, 2002), night-time venues may differ greatly among themselves. Not only the places, the consumers are different too: mainstream and alternative venues are styled to attract specific targets and to support their expression of social belonging and distinction (Bourdieu, 1979; Ley, 1996; Lloyd, 2006; Zukin, 2010). In this way, they promote and legitimate the presence of specific users while keeping others out, creating exclusive and excluding spaces.

13An examination of the location of these playscapes highlights their uneven distribution within the city: not only the number of nightspots in the hip and trendy districts is higher than elsewhere, but the mainstream and alternative venues mostly cluster within these areas (cf. also Crivello, 2009; 2011). On the contrary, other areas of the city appear characterized by sparsely distributed pubs that mainly belong to the residual type: undifferentiated, traditional and standardised places that quite rarely can be found in the hip districts. This spatial arrangement draws a geography of the city in which the use of some areas, at least in terms of free time, consumption and entertainment, appears earmarked for specific segments of the urban population, more or less explicitly excluding others.

14To deepen the analysis and investigate how the emergence of these trendy spaces may concretely produce an exclusive use of the urban space, the following paragraph will focus on one of the districts mentioned above, the neighbourhood of San Salvario (Figure 1).

Fig. 1

Fig. 1

The neighbourhood of San Salvario in the city of Turin, on the left, and a close up on the neighbourhood, with the main night-time consumption aera, on the right.

Source: Author’s elaboration OICT Geoportale Torino Maps.

3 - San Salvario: Consumption, distinction and exclusion

15Even without major architectonic changes, in the last few decades the neighbourhood of San Salvario has gone through deep transformations: historically mixed in terms of religion and class, first beachhead of following waves of immigration and with buildings characterized by commercial spaces at the ground floor and residential units at the upper ones, it experienced subsequent periods of fortune and decline, recently becoming one of the new trendy district of the city.

16In the mid-1990s the neighbourhood was nationally known as a symbol of urban crisis (Allasino et al., 2000), in which the issues of problematic inter-ethnic coexistence, building deterioration, small retail crisis and industrial decline merged together in a climate of social tension and distress. Media and public discourses especially drew the attention on the presence of migrants, considered as connected to issues of public safety, drug dealing and general decline of the area. Even if the neighbourhood could never be considered an ethnic neighbourhood only, nor an exclusively working-class one, thanks to the constant presence of representatives of Italian middle‑class households, entrepreneurs and professionals, it is however true that the foreign presence has been relevant in shaping the neighbourhood identity and perception. In 1995 only the 5% of the neighbourhood’s residents was foreign (even though they represented the 3% at the city level), but a large number of migrants, even living somewhere else, were using the area because of the services, shops, places of worship and social networks (Belluati, 2004), creating a visible and tangible presence in the neighbourhood’s everyday life (Brighenti, 2007). In that period, traditional every-day stores, ethnic shops and a number of empty commercial spaces characterized the streetscape.

  • 4 Aperitivo is a cheap and often quite rich dinner ‘a buffet’, with finger foods and warm dishes an (...)

17Nowadays the number of foreign residents is considerably higher (21 % in 2015), but, interestingly enough, this does not seem to constitute a matter of debate any longer. The combined intervention of different socio-cultural associations, religious organizations and local NGOs, supported by the local government, managed to create a more accepted and less tense co-existence, and the area has been often pointed out as an example of successful integration and positive socio-cultural mix. Moreover, the diverse and mixed composition of the area has come to be considered an asset to promote the neighbourhood’s regeneration: its gritty and diverse atmosphere has contributed to making it one of the new trendy districts of the city, a preferred destination of university students and young creatives for an aperitivo4 with friends or a night out. While its resident population still appears quite mixed, both in terms of national origin and class, its commercial fabric is becoming increasingly socially and culturally homogeneous, as much as its customers. A process of commercial gentrification interested the area, later joined – and almost drowned out – by the emergence of San Salvario as a nightlife entertainment district. New cafés, night spots, design, art and graphic studios started to open, and the process of change, slow and interstitial at first, became increasingly visible around 2009 and speeded up from 2011 onwards, deeply changing the area in material and symbolic terms. The arrival of new spaces of consumption contributed in displacing previous activities, as it both re-opened empty spaces and displaced traditional and ethnic shops, changing the use of venues, attracting more affluent consumers and affecting the everyday practices and uses of the neighbourhood’s public spaces. Considering the three streets mostly interested by this change, between 2011 and 2012 around 20 new commercial enterprises opened, the number of ethnic shops almost halved and night-time lounge cafés and clubs rose from less than ten to almost 20, the other new openings being mostly restaurants or food-related businesses. Moreover, after an initial period in which fancy stores, art and design studios sprung up, later on lounge cafés, restaurants and nightspots became the most common new commercial enterprises.

18Rather than to investigate the process of change in itself, however, the attention is here focused to address its implications in terms of use and accessibility of the urban space. Indeed, these commercial enterprises promote practices and ways to use the public space that involve some while excluding others: aperitivo and night-time consumption are not transversally enjoyed by the whole population, but they rather bring together only some social groups of specific age and social background. Even between those who enjoy these practices, differences can be outlined: gentrifiers, university students and middle classes are increasingly plural and variegated, and so their practices and spaces of consumption (Bridge and Dowling, 2001; Butler and Robson, 2003; Chatterton and Hollands, 2003). A venue targeting the representatives of the creative class may convey a certain taste, social references and sense of place that may distance, for example, some of the youngest segments of University student, and vice versa. And these users, consuming and enjoying the nightlife in a certain area of the neighbourhood, take symbolic control of portions of the districts, opposing other ways of using and living in the public space, such as those of migrants, marginal and lower classes, but traditional middle and upper classes too (Chatterton and Hollands, 2003; Deener, 2007; Hae, 2011).

  • 5 M. interview, March 14th, 2012. Resident, female, 35 years old.

19This last club that opened few weeks ago… when they did the opening party I was like “where do all these people come from? Are they coming from the moon?”, I mean, that night it seemed to be in Milan, Hollywood! One night I also tried to go there, but I didn’t like the atmosphere, I mean, it’s kind of cold, white, like a hospital. I don’t like it, that kind of places are… I mean, I prefer a more authentic, warm place, […] where you can have dinner spending almost nothing. This one… I mean, they seem kind of out of place, I don’t even know how to explain it, it seems out of place, I mean… the people… so dressed up!5

20In some cases, the appropriation of space takes a very concrete form too: accordingly to the city law, commercial activities can occupy the sidewalk or the parking lot in front of their enterprises with furniture and decorations to further develop their business. The increase of consumption venues has implied a spread of sidewalk cafés and of terraces connected to pubs and restaurants, and therefore a growing privatization of public spaces. Also thanks to this spatial arrangement, the users of these new activities concretely started using the public space as semi-private settings for sociability and consumption. The establishment of terraces can be hardly ignored by other everyday users: the addition of furniture is not only visible but it also asks for a different interaction with the urban space. Accordingly to the kind of business they sustain, these terraces and sidewalk cafés are mostly used from the early evening until late at night and, with due exceptions, they are often empty and ‘closed’ during daytime, remaining unutilized. But, since most of them have fixed furniture, they are anyway present, occupying portions of the street, marking the public space as semi-private and legitimising some uses (and users) while opposing others.

21The use of some streets as spaces of sociability by foreign men has been, for example, deeply affected. Until the process of commercial gentrification begun to be particularly invasive, indeed, groups of foreign people, some living in the neighbourhood, some others attracted by its services, places of worship, shops or social networks, used to gather in different areas of the neighbourhood, mainly between noon and the evening. In line with the diverse composition of the district, it was possible to meet people originally from Northern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. But in the following years, the presence of migrants started becoming more and more clustered and mostly limited to the area closer to the railway station, where no clubs had opened yet. Indeed, the establishment of sidewalk cafés has disrupted the availability and accessibility of portions of public spaces.

22The creation of exclusive places through consumption is especially visible in the evening and during the night, when sidewalks and streets become an extension of the interior world of restaurants and pubs and a young and quite homogeneous crowd, at least in terms of class, ethnicity and age, literally take over wide portions of the neighbourhood. In that time frame, the segmentation in terms of use of space results in a visible division between the core streets of the neighbourhood and the streets right next to the central station, where alternative uses of public spaces (such as those of migrants) have been bunched up. The clients of the new activities take symbolic and material control of portions of the neighbourhood, opposing other ways of using and interpreting the public space. Interestingly enough, this doesn’t affect migrants, marginal and lower classes only, but also the representatives of traditional middle and upper classes who, as mentioned, live in the neighbourhood too and barely take part to the consumption practices that so heavily now characterize the district’s space.

  • 6 G. interview, January 11th, 2011. Former resident, association’s representative, male, 45 years o (...)

23The neighbourhood is big, right, there are a lot of different people here and the fact that it is becoming a neighbourhood where all night-clubs are, where there is the night-life… I don’t see it as a positive thing […]. The clubs, the artists, the fancy and trendy stuff… they are very visible, but they represent only a small part of the neighbourhood’s population. There are a lot of people coming from outside the neighbourhood to do this stuff, it is not that all these young people actually live here. It would be different if the whole population of the neighbourhood was made by university students. But it’s not.6

24In this frame, friction, tensions and protests have emerged. On the one side, formal complaints to local authorities have been filled out by many long-term residents, who also created associations against the transformation of the neighbourhood into a night-time entertainment district, mainly focussing on the issues of night-time nuisance, chaotic parking situation, litter and general discomfort connected to the presence of large crowds of young revellers in the streets throughout the night. On the other side, encroachments and occasional fights in the streets involving different users have been recorded in those areas formerly mainly occupied by migrant groups, underlining once again the social meaningfulness of a process that is far from being peacefully accepted.

4 - Conclusions

25By relying on the case study of the city of Turin and of the neighbourhood of San Salvario, the paper argued that different processes and patterns of segregation may be in place regardless of the residential distribution of the urban population. Indeed, the chance to use and access facilities and public spaces may be unevenly distributed, creating forms of socio-spatial exclusion. The paper focused on the issue of consumption, especially intended as a means of social distinction, and on the emergence of districts catering the taste of particular segments of the population. The new, upscale, cafés, restaurants and small shops create a specific sense of place and through their storefronts, furniture and advertisements, they affect the outdoor area, exercising a ‘symbolic ownership’ over the neighbourhood’s streets (Deener, 2007). These processes create areas of the city designated for specific uses and users, which are recognized as legitimately present, keeping out those who do not comply. As the case study shows, to adopt this approach to social segregation may be particularly interesting in those contexts, such as those of Mediterranean cities, where residential segregation appears low but may conceal other forms of marginalisation and socio-spatial exclusion that is crucial to investigate.

26Finally, the case of San Salvario also suggests another form of segregation that may be traced in diverse and mixed neighbourhoods, which can be developed in terms of place-temporality and urban rhythm rather than in terms of space only. As outlined above, the emergence of the neighbourhood as a place of night-time consumption has supported the colonization of the night by young Italian revellers, mainly university students and young creatives, who are nevertheless barely present in the neighbourhood during the day. During the day, on the contrary, the neighbourhood’s mixed composition and diversity are visible and still characterize the area. The issue of temporality and division between night-time and day-time may therefore come to be addressed as a peculiar form of social segregation that may take place even within mixed neighbourhoods, a way of combining spatial proximity and social distance that asks for careful consideration too.

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1 L. interview, May 5th, 2011. Resident, female, 28 years old.

2 “A Torino come nel Marais”, Corriere della SeraSette Magazine, March 1st, 2012.

3 ‘New urban middle-class’, or creative class, is here used to refer to people mainly working in intellectual, artistic, and creative jobs, with high cultural and social capital but variable economic capital (Florida, 2002; GLASS, 1964; LEY, 1996; ROSE, 1984; SMITH, 1979; ZUKIN, 1991). The expression ‘new urban middle-class’, indeed, can be adopted to refer to a variegated social group, internally differing in terms of income and occupation, as well as in aspirations and values (BUTLER and ROBSON, 2003).

4 Aperitivo is a cheap and often quite rich dinner ‘a buffet’, with finger foods and warm dishes and it is particularly popular among university students and young people. It usually ranges between 6 € and 10 €, drinks included, and it is mainly served between 7pm and 9pm in cafés and pubs.

5 M. interview, March 14th, 2012. Resident, female, 35 years old.

6 G. interview, January 11th, 2011. Former resident, association’s representative, male, 45 years old.

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List of illustrations

Title Fig. 1
Caption The neighbourhood of San Salvario in the city of Turin, on the left, and a close up on the neighbourhood, with the main night-time consumption aera, on the right.
Credits Source: Author’s elaboration OICT Geoportale Torino Maps.
File image/jpeg, 500k
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Bibliographical reference

Magda Bolzoni, Spaces of distinction, spaces of segregationMéditerranée, 127 | 2016, 59-68.

Electronic reference

Magda Bolzoni, Spaces of distinction, spaces of segregationMéditerranée [Online], 127 | 2016, Online since 01 November 2016, connection on 29 January 2023. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Magda Bolzoni

Dipartimento di Culture, Politica e Società, Università degli studi di Torino,

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