Digital Makings of the Cosmopolitan City? Young People’s Urban Imaginaries of London
This article focuses on young Londoners’ everyday digital connectedness in the global city and examines the urban imaginaries their connections generate and regulate. Young people engage with many mobilities, networks, and technologies to find their places in a city that is only selectively hospitable to them. Offline and online connections also shape urban imaginaries that direct their moral and practical positions toward others living close by and at a distance. We draw from a two-year study with 84 young people of different class and racial backgrounds living in three London neighborhoods. The study reveals the divergence of youths’ urban imaginaries that result from uneven access to material and symbolic resources in the city. It also shows the convergence of their urban imaginaries, resulting especially from widespread practices of diversified connectedness. More often than not, young participants reveal a cosmopolitan and positive disposition toward difference. Cosmopolitanism becomes a common discursive tool urban youth differently use, to narrate and regulate belonging in an interconnected world and an unequal city.