Insiders and Outsiders

Place is important as people create their identity based on the places they are connected to. People may be an insider in a place or an outsider.

An insider is familiar with a place and feels welcome there. They have the sense of belonging, for example they may share the same cultural values.

An outsider feels unwelcome or excluded from a place. They do not have that sense of belonging, and this can be due to age, gender, sexuality, wealth etc.

I am an insider in Welwyn Hatfield:

  • Have lived here my whole life
  • Familiar with area – can easily find my way around
  • My education is based here
  • My friends and family live here as well (or nearby)
  • I know the facilities – shops, gyms, pools, transport links etc
  • Good employment opportunities – business park

I am an outsider in Wales (around the Wye Valley):

  • Too remote which I am not used to
  • Small rural communities all seem very tight-knit, so I am outsider to this as I am not familiar with the place or people
  • Some extent of language barrier as many signs are in Welsh
  • Very contrasting to places that I am an insider in, which tend to be busy towns, so I am not used to the quietness and serenity of Wales

The insider/outsider concept is important to consider, as it begs the question of why some people feel like outsiders. In particular, as European politics is ever more focused on immigration, there is more need to understand how places create insiders and outsiders. Positionality refers to factors like gender, race, religion, wealth etc which influence the perception we have of different places – the Mecca in Saudi Arabia is viewed by Muslims as a wholly religious place, whereas non-Muslims would hold it as a historical/cultural place.