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

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Annals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)1729-1747
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/05/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Long-standing tensions between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland have led to high levels of segregation. This article 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’s (1998) concept to define T-communities from sets of interconnecting tertiary streets within north Belfast. These are combined with more than 6,000 Global Positioning System (GPS) tracks collected from local residents to assess the amount of time spent within different spaces. Spaces are divided into areas of residents’ own community affiliations (in-group), areas not clearly associated with either community (mixed), or areas of opposing community affiliation (out-group). 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 out-group areas and that this is especially true within T-communities. It is also evident that residents are more likely to travel along out-group sections of a main road if they are in a vehicle and that women show no greater likelihood than men to move within out-group space. Evidence from GPS tracks also provides insights into some areas where mixing appears to occur.