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The spatial analysis of economic inequality in urban contexts has allowed for new insights into trends of segregation and neighbourhood transformation in the early modern and modern city. However, if we want to assess social relations between people of different social standing, spatial proximity often serves as a convenient – but rarely studied – shorthand for social interaction. Did people of different social backgrounds living in the same street frequently interact, or did their social interactions cluster among neighbours of equal status? And were neighbourly relations more intense and frequent in poorer and more segregated neighbourhoods than in rich ones?
This presentation aims to shed new light on how segregation and gentrification affected everyday social interactions between neighbours in urban areas with different social and economic profiles on the eve of modern urbanisation in the Belgian town of Bruges. In order to do so, we combine a GIS analysis of fiscal data with social interactions detailed in witness depositions before the local criminal court.

Heidi Deneweth is a postdoctoral researcher at research team HOST (Historical Research into Urban Transformation Processes) at VUB.

Wouter Ryckbosch is an Associate Professor in early modern history at VUB and Director of the HOST research group.

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