Book Review 01: The Road to Somewhere by David Goodhart
Updated: Aug 29, 2022
Personal rating 5/5: This book whilst seemingly unrelated to architecture, has everything to do with architecture. Identity politics in some ways has always been one of the major factors in determining the aesthetics of our designs as architects whether intentionally done or not.
In his book, Goodhart discusses the perhaps less understood side of the recent political conversations around Brexit and Trump America, and the rise of other populist groups around Europe (e.g. France, the Netherlands, and Germany).
He starts by defining two socioeconomic groups in the context of globalisation - the 'Somewheres' and the 'Nowheres'. The Nowheres are well-educated individuals with college degrees, who can travel anywhere in the world with their credentials, and root themselves in most major cities across the globe. However, individually they are not culturally rooted to any particular place nor contribute to sustaining the local culture to help maintain the predominating local culture. The Somewheres on the other hand are individuals who have always been in more or less one place and plan on staying in the same place in their future. They are also people who may not have had good educations or obtained college degrees but are individuals who make a place a place, and are people who define the predominate culture of the community. Goodhart writes about the spectrum between the Somewheres and Nowheres, noting the extremes in both and the fact that most of us will sit somewhere in the middle of this range.
Goodhart argues that whilst the academic elite have benefitted in many ways from globalisation, these opportunities are not shared with the Somewheres. The isolation from the conversations around globalisation in politics has triggered backlash from the Somewheres, having had their struggles largely ignored in political discourse in recent times.
I went to a talk on Brexit which was a round table discussion with a group of professionally and academically established individuals at the Reform Club in early 2016. During the Q&A session after the various talks, one individual asked something along the lines of, 'can someone please explain to me the emotional reaction amongst pro-Brexiters?' If you are one of these individuals wondering the same thing, than this book offers some eye opening insight into the lesser known and reported socioeconomic cultural undercurrents.