Everyday multiculturalism in the public library: taking knitting together seriously

Robinson, Katherine. 2020. Everyday multiculturalism in the public library: taking knitting together seriously. Sociology, 54(3), pp. 556-572. ISSN 0038-0385 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article brings recent discussions of everyday multiculturalism into a context which has had little sociological attention - the public library. Focusing on a south London library’s newly-established knitting group, made up of predominantly older women from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, I show how the library’s framing of multiculturalism, limited to either celebratory occasions or targeted interventions for vulnerable groups, was unable to recognise the knitting group as an everyday multicultural space. Using an ethnographic approach which ‘takes seriously’ the ordinariness of knitting together, I show how the library setting provided the group with a reliable foundation, and attend closely to how, for its participants, the group became a space of multicultural recognition. I argue that the public library has capacity to anchor vital spaces of everyday multicultural conviviality which are not curated as special projects, and that the ordinary positioning of these spaces is integral to their formation.

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This research was supported by an AHRC Studentship, reference AH/I019650/1.


diversity, everyday multiculturalism, knitting, ordinary, public libraries, ‘race’, recognition

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20 November 2019Accepted
27 February 2020Published Online

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Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2019 11:51

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2021 20:39

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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