Liminal Social and Physical Spaces: Aspects of Identity and Socialization Patterns in a Neighborhood House


  • Alannah Berson University of British Columbia



gentrification, imagined communities, liminality, Goffman, Vancouver


Vancouver, British Columbia, is a changing city with a diverse population from all over the globe. Within this metropolis are small neighborhood houses where people can find community services like conversation groups to learn English, clubs to meet new people, and daycare and preschool to care for their children. This article explores social relations in one neighborhood house. Despite the small size of the house, the members and users of the house do not necessarily identify with a larger house identity or an imagined community. Using ethnographic research, this paper examines how gentrification, imagined communities, and liminal events separate and unite different portions of the house membership via Goffmanian theory about masks, teams, and regions. It looks at the house in terms of individuals establishing team identity through space-claiming practices that reinforce mask identities. In a place and time of demographic change, this paper seeks to find out how the concept of neighbors and neighborhood membership is changing through individual and group efforts to control shared spaces.