Operationalising social mix: Spatial scale, lifestyle and stigma as mediating points in resident interaction

K Arthurson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    62 Citations (Scopus)


    There is a growing contemporary literature that seeks to explore the apparent benefits for socio-economically disadvantaged residents of living in neighbourhoods with a diverse range of social mix. The anticipated benefits include providing low-income residents with middle-income role models and access to broader social networks that may lead to employment-related opportunities. These goals are predicated on propinquity in space providing an important context for facilitating social interaction between residents across income levels and housing tenures. The findings of the current research project, which explores social mix policies implemented in three neighbourhoods in South Australia, imply that scale of implementation, residents' lifestyles and the stigma attached to social housing are critical factors in determining whether or not social interaction occurs. Overall, the findings suggest it is critical to continue to interrogate social mix policies and the social engineering agendas that they engage in. At the very least, if policy makers persist in implementing such policies, then we need a better understanding of the consequences of operationalising social mix at different spatial scales, such as the street, block or neighbourhood. Social mix is likely to have different consequences at different scales of operationalisation and a too fine-grained social mix, especially given the current stringent targeting arrangements for social housing, may increase the potential for conflict rather than the anticipated social cohesion.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-63
    Number of pages15
    JournalUrban Policy and Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


    • Social housing
    • Social mix
    • Stigma
    • Urban regeneration


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