Networks of Dis(connection): Mobility practices, tertiary streets and sectarian divisions in north Belfast.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Gemma Davies
  • John Dixon
  • Colin Tredoux
  • Duncan Whyatt
  • Brendan Sturgeon
  • Bree Hocking
  • Neil Jarman
  • Dominic Bryan


Longstanding tensions between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland have led to high levels of segregation. This paper explores the spaces within which residents of north Belfast move within everyday life and the extent to which these are influenced by segregation. We focus in particular on the role that interconnecting ‘tertiary streets’ have on patterns of mobility.

We adapt Grannis’ (1998) concept to define T-communities from sets of interconnecting tertiary streets within north Belfast. These are combined with over 6000 GPS tracks collected from local residents in order to assess the amount of time spent within different spaces. Spaces are divided into areas of residents own community affiliation (ingroup), areas not clearly associated with either community (mixed), or areas of opposing community affiliation (outgroup). We further differentiate space as being either within a T-community or along a section of main road.

Our work extends research on T-communities by expanding their role beyond exploring residential preference, to explore instead, networks of (dis)connection through which social divisions are expressed via everyday mobility practices. We conclude that residents are significantly less likely to move within mixed and outgroup areas and that this was especially true within T-communities. It is also evident that residents were more likely to travel along outgroup sections of a main road if they were in a vehicle and that women showed no greater likelihood than men to move within outgroup space. Evidence from GPS tracks also provides insights into some areas where mixing appears to occur.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1729-1747
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number6
Early online date30 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019

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