Neighbourhood Effects and Social Cohesion: Exploring the Evidence in Australian Urban Renewal Policies

Kathryn Arthurson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Since the 1980s, the Australian government has pursued area based policies to redevelop 'problem' neighbourhoods. Recognising that the physical changes did little to address many of the perceived problems in the estates the programs were altered and increasing amounts of attention was paid to providing a social mix. This was implemented through selective redevelopment where large scale social housing projects were infilled with private renting and owner occupied property. Policy makers justified this approach by arguing that, through social mix, employment opportunities, educational achievements and service provision will all increase. These themes are brought out by drawing on research projects conducted in Australia during the 2000s, investigating the level of social cohesion in three regenerated communities in Adelaide. Social mix was identified as being less relevant to modern life, as individuals spent a lot of their time away from the neighbourhood. Whilst age was frequently reported as a barrier to integration the biggest tensions were reserved for the perceived differences in neighbours' standards and values surrounding appropriate behaviour. Importantly, the chapter shows that homogenous social housing communities do not have the exclusive rights to neighbourhood based problems and the conclusions highlight the processes, complexities and challenges that policy makers face. In conclusion the question whether or not social mixing has become an outmoded concept is posed. Wider networks beyond the residential neighbourhood have made the local environment less relevant for many residents. In conjunction with the clear contradictions between policies of social mix and providing housing for individuals with limited means has the consequence that social housing increasingly becomes a tenure for those in the greatest need alone, effectively increasing the isolation of low income groups and reducing mix in the very same tenure that the policy makers are attempting to reintroduce it to.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNeighbourhood Effects or Neighbourhood Based Problems?
    Subtitle of host publicationA Policy Context
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9789400766952
    ISBN (Print)9400766947, 9789400766945
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2013


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