Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Urban Sociology

Julia Nast

Julia Nast

Cities Group


The neighbourhood they live in? Localised organisational habitus and neighbourhood inequality in child related organisations in Berlin, Germany



Professor Talja Blokland (Humboldt-University Berlin)

Professor Tim Butler (King's College London) 




About the PhD

Julia’s PhD research tackles the question of organisational neighbourhood inequality: it employs an organisational perspective to understand how neighbourhoods shape life chances of young people growing up in them. So far, organisations as a focus have been rather marginal in research trying to conceptualize the role of neighbourhoods for inequality that has mostly focused on average neighbourhood effects. Addressing this gap, the research sets out to conceptualize how organisations and their geographical localities interact to shape the work of organisations and thus the experiences of children and young people within them. To do so, the PhD develops the concept of a localized organisational habitus. Based on ethnographic research and in-depth interviews in two primary schools and two youth clubs in contrasting neighbourhoods (deprived/privileged) in Berlin Germany, Julia analyses how neighbourhoods shape organisations – through their social intake, specific neighbourhood policies, and symbolic meanings of neighbourhoods – and impact the ways in which professionals within such organisations define their role, generate understandings of their jobs, and develop priorities. These different understandings also result in different organisational practices in the contrasting neighbourhoods that can be linked back to the question of inequality between neighbourhoods for young people growing up and being educated within them.




Julia is a joint PhD candidate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin and King’s College London. She has studied sociology and political sciences at Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, U.S and graduated from Humboldt University Berlin with an MA in Social Sciences in 2012. During her studies Julia became increasingly interested in the role of neighbourhoods for inequality, especially in the area of education and youth work. Her master’s thesis looked at the dynamics of parental networks in socially mixed schools in Berlin, Germany. During her studies and her PhD, Julia also followed her interest in education, inequality, and neighbourhood change by working on several project for different NGOs and foundations. 



Nast, J. / Blokland, T. (forthcoming): Social Mix Revisited: Neighbourhood Institutions as

Setting for Boundary Work and Social Capital. In: Sociology.


Blokland, T. / Nast, J. (forthcoming): From Public Familiarity to Comfort Zone: The Relevance

of Absent Ties for Belonging in Mixed Neighbourhoods. In: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research.


Nast, J. (2011): Berufliche Orientierungen: Die Rolle der Präferenzen beim Berufseinstieg. In:

Jens Ambrasat, Martin Groß, Jakob Tesch, Bern Wegener: Determinanten beruflicher Karrieren unter den Bedingungen flexibilisierter Arbeitsmärkte. Düsseldorf: Hans-Böckler-Stiftung.


Conference presentations

Nast, J. (2013): More than Competing for Access? Zooming in On How Segregation Shapes

Educational Institutions. The Case of Berlin – Germany. Paper presented at RC21 Annual Conference, Resourceful Cities, 2013, Berlin, Germany, 29th – 31st August 2013


Nast, J. (2012): First the Mixing and then what? Political Participation in a Mixed

Neighbourhood. Paper presented at Second ISA Forum of Sociology, 2012, Buenos Aires, Argentina 1st - 4th  August 2012


Blokland, T. / Nast, J. (2011): Truce, Tectonics and the Meanings of the Passing-by: on the

Relevance of Absent Ties for Understanding Belonging in Mixed Neighbourhoods. Paper presented at RC21 Conference 2011, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 7th to 9th July 2011 (presenter: J. Nast)


Blokland, T./Nast, J. (2010): Home in an Undesirable Place: Thoughts on Negative

Stereotyping of Urban Neighborhoods by the Example of Wedding, Berlin, Germany. Paper presented at XVII ISA World Congress on Sociology, Gothenburg, Sweden 11th to 17th July 2010


Scholarships and Awards

  • Doctoral Scholarship Awarded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) Funded Under the Initiative for Excellence Program of the German Federal and State Governments, 2011 till present


  • Scholarship for the Advancement of Women, Humboldt-University, for participating in the Second RC21-IJURR-FURS ‘Comparative Urban Studies’ Summer School, Amsterdam, 1st-11th July 2011


  • Humboldt Award 2010: Best Bachelor thesis at Humboldt-University (2010)


  • DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Scholarship for Studying Abroad, New York, USA, 2010


  • Erasmus Scholarship for Studying Abroad, Brussels, Belgium, 2007 – 2008