In the 20th century of industrialization, case-study research design was related to organizations, however in the 21st century of deindustrialization the post-industrial neighborhoods could serves as an indicator of neo-liberal policies and as a reference space for identity studies. However, the instruments of these studies are still poorly described, which limits this type of research design and the comparative analysis of similar neighborhoods in the global context. This paper describes the methodology and insights from three ethnographic case-studies of neighbourhoods—a type of field research focused on detailed inquiry with multiple methods of data collection. This paper follows the Chicago School of Sociology (Park, 1967), understanding a neighbourhood as a field laboratory where social and transformational processes occur, and the social nature of these changes is exposed. The identities were elaborated by secondary data, different types of interviews, observations, and visual data. The paper demonstrates the importance of visual data and the contextualization of the groups studied in the space of the neighborhood, other residents, and changes in the material and social landscapes (the historical, material, and spatial contexts). Data from photographs and videos revealed the material context of transformation, exposing the rigidity of changes in the capital case, and the actualization of inequalities in the regional case. The analysis of the mental maps of the regional neighborhood demonstrates that the workers still perceived this area as an industrial place and the factory is still the core of the workers' identity. Thus, the visual materials expose the multiple layers of identities and new aspects of inequalities. The visual data formed the basis for a research exhibition and a film that shows the ambivalence of post-industrial processes and the multivoicedness of neighborhood residents to different publics.


ethnographic-case study, visual data, tandem interviews, ethnographic interviews, post-industrial neighbourhood, research design

Author Bio(s)

Elizaveta Polukhina is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology and Senior Research Fellow of an International Laboratory of Social Integration Research at the HSE University, Moscow, Russia. Her projects relate to the issues of everyday-life and transformations in post-Soviet spaces, housing studies, and social research methods. Elizaveta is the leader of several research projects such as “The everyday life of industrial workers” (2017), the field expedition “Post-Soviet everyday life of the industrial neighbourhood” (2018). She is an author of numerous publications and several courses about strategies and methods of qualitative social research. Please direct correspondence to epolukhina@hse.ru.


I thank my colleagues, who work with me in these field projects for fruitful collaboration and support. This paper is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University)

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