Interest in social balance and mixed communities Essay Example
Interest in social balance and mixed communities Essay Example

Interest in social balance and mixed communities Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2437 words)
  • Published: July 18, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Interest in achieving societal balance and promoting diverse communities has emerged in response to growing concerns about societal housing issues and the existence of class-based disparities and social exclusion. Recent research, such as that conducted by Meen et al., has emphasized the significant and persistent inequalities between countries at the local and neighborhood levels.

The incorporation of social balance into English housing and planning policy in 2005 has caused a displacement in housing strategy and policy. This serves as a counteractive measure against the natural inclination of the housing market to segregate, according to Goodchild and Cole (2001). Despite arguments by critics like Cheshire (2007) who believe spatial policy cannot address deeply ingrained societal and economic forces, the concept of social mixing has gained popularity in urban policy. This literature review focuses on various community approaches to urban gen


trification, with an emphasis on the latest addition, the MCI. Additionally, it analyzes the role of the MCI in UK policy discourse as a means of exploring its conceptual and theoretical orientations for area regeneration.

The literature is reviewed comprehensively to examine the concept of 'Mixed Communities' as a strategy for neighborhood regeneration. The UK has embraced this approach since 2005, aiming to address gentrification and improve disadvantaged areas. This initiative, known as the 'Mixed Communities Initiative' (MCI), was introduced by New Labour in January 2005. The MCI encompasses four essential elements: enhancing housing conditions in high poverty areas, increasing employment opportunities, improving education, reducing crime rates, and raising educational attainment levels (Lupton et al., 2009).

  • The goal is to achieve these objectives by making changes to the housing stock and attracting new populations,
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while also improving opportunities for existing populations.

  • Financially support development by recognizing the value of publicly owned land and other public assets.
  • Integrate government policies to create a comprehensive approach that is sustainable and has mainstream support.
  • The MCI was initially implemented through 12 presentation projects in disadvantaged areas of the UK. However, these community approaches have expanded beyond these projects and are now supported by planning authorities in various countries. As a result, mixed communities have become a method for area regeneration and a government policy initiative. With this in mind, this literature review serves two purposes.

    Through analysis of theories on poverty, place, and gentrification in policy discourse, one can understand the principles behind the approach to urban communities. Theories of Poverty and Place in Urban Policy play a significant role in any form of urban regeneration as they reflect a specific understanding of the causes of place poverty. Understanding the understanding of place poverty behind the MCI provides essential insight into the UK's different approaches to regeneration. The UK's early regeneration, advocated by the Keynesian welfare state, aimed to address neighborhood crises through "neighborhood improvement." This approach recognizes the problems of declining areas as a result of economic structures that contribute to spatial and social inequality. In response, they aimed to improve living conditions and provide equal opportunities through redistributive social welfare programs (Katz, 2004).

    The effectiveness of local interventions in the face of structural inequalities can be exemplified by the Community Development Projects (1974) in the 1960s. These projects sparked prolonged debate. In contrast to 'neighborhood improvement',

    the 'neighborhood transformation' approach is a noticeably neoliberal strategy advocated by conservative governments. This approach views the problems faced by disadvantaged neighborhoods as the result of market failures rather than underlying economic structures. Market failures such as the creation of mass social housing estates and overly generous welfare systems are believed to 'trap' disadvantaged individuals in cultures of dependence (Goetz, 2003).

    In the neighboring countries, the improvement of these countries is seen as an obstacle to market forces. These countries have the potential for good commercial and residential property investment. According to Lupton and Fuller (2009:1016), the approach of "neighborhood transformation" aims to improve conditions in these neighborhoods for the current residents and restore market functionality through physical changes. One example of this approach is the Urban Development Corporations, which transformed the London Docklands in the 1980s. The presence of these corporations changed the role of the government in urban development, shifting it from a market regulator to an active participant. The government's new responsibility was to promote economic conditions that would enhance the productivity of areas and communities.

    The urban regeneration policy of New Labour in 1997 was considered a departure from a transformational approach and a return to a betterment approach. The government introduced various new and improved public services through the National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal. This included the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit and the New Deal for Communities (NDC), which facilitated collaboration between local stakeholders on improving the neighborhood. While this program emphasized the importance of prioritizing residents and had a strong local focus, other aspects of New Labour's policies were typically neoliberal. As noted by Fuller and Geddes (2008), Labour's urban interventions aimed

    to create equal opportunities for all and promote greater social coherence and inclusion by empowering local citizens.

    However, by not fulfilling these duties with appropriate provincial powers within the NRU and NDC, there has been minimal support for local citizens, except to simply counterbalance the individuals and places put at risk by market forces. As a result, New Labour's initiatives have failed to implement significant redistributive interventions that relieve local provincial agents from neoliberal targets, cultures, and forms of control (Jessop, 1990).

    Conclude so what?

    Neoliberal theories of poverty and place within the MCI

    Within this policy discourse, the MCI exists as a more typically neoliberal initiative. Its understanding of the problem, concentrated poverty, and the solution, de-concentration through neighborhood transformation, is clear. By doing this, the MCI supports a policy discourse that sees concentrated poverty as a 'spatial metaphor' (Crump, 2002). This metaphor inherently undermines complex economic, social, and political processes and uses the individual weaknesses of the poor within concentrated spaces to justify their dilution or removal.

    The concentrated poorness thesis originated from the US and is used to justify policies that change the spatial structures of cities through market forces. The Hope VI urban revival program, which focused on eliminating distressed public housing through demolition, has had a significant influence. These programs have led British policy makers to adopt a more radical approach to urban regeneration, advocating for extensive demolition to rebuild housing markets and promote a neoliberal agenda in struggling housing environments (Imbroscio, 2008).

    The MCIs emphasis on market restoration is clearly stated:

    "the goal is that success measures should be chosen. Reputation, choice of location, and the desire for people to move in - it's about market

    choice" (Senior CLG official in Lupton et al.)

    According to a study from 2009, the authorities recognizes the need for physical improvements in addition to public service enhancements in order to attract people to the neighborhood and its market. The goal is not just to invest in the housing stock, but also to diversify it and reduce the amount of public housing in order to stimulate market processes. This approach involves funding improvements to services and attracting wealthier residents, often by selling or donating land to the private sector. However, this shift of social housing to the private sector creates a "spatial gap for poverty" and encourages the development of mixed-income housing projects. In this situation, there is potential for the private sector to alter social housing in coordination with market dynamics, potentially neglecting complex and marginal developments (Adair et al., 2003).

    Conclude and Develop a Small Reference Gentrification

    Impact of Mixed Communities

    It was criticized by Holcomb and Beauregard ( 1981 ) about the assumption that benefits of urban revival through social mixing would 'trickle down ' to the poor, thirty years ago. Despite the ongoing academic debate on whether gentrification leads to social exclusion, segregation, and displacement, it has gained popularity in urban policy as it is believed to create a socially diverse, integrated, and sustainable urban environment. This review will explore the literature examining whether moving middle-income populations into low-income neighborhoods or vice versa has a positive impact on residents' urban experience - linking to diverse communities. Schoon ( 2001 ) identifies three principles underlying social mixing in policy discussions.

    The text presents three main arguments: Firstly, lower-income

    families in socially diverse communities have better access to public resources compared to the middle-class. Secondly, economically diverse areas can support local economies more effectively than regions with concentrated poverty. Lastly, socially diverse neighborhoods enhance social capital between different societal groups according to Putnam (1995). This leads individuals from lower-income backgrounds to have more networking opportunities and chances of escaping poverty in socially diverse areas rather than areas with concentrated poverty. The Social Exclusion Unit (1998:53) supports this notion by stating that socially diverse neighborhoods expose people to individuals beyond their usual social circles, broadening horizons, raising expectations, and facilitating the formation of informal networks for easier employment acquisition. These three arguments are the basis of a global policy discussion that has received little scrutiny in the UK.

    One reason for this is the way it is presented. Instead of using the term 'gentrification', western attempts to decentralize poverty choose to use terms like 'urban revival', 'urban regeneration', and 'urban sustainability' in order to redefine themselves as a moral discourse that helps the poor (Slater, 2005; 2006). By doing so, this discourse avoids addressing the class restructuring processes involved in its implementation.

    Previous Studies

    Currently, there is little consensus on whether gentrification can achieve its intended goals and it remains unclear what type of societal mix is most desirable or what the consequences of different mixes are (Walks and Maaranen, 2008).

    Tunstall and Fenton ( 2006 ) argue that while there are disparities in knowledge, the fundamental principles for various communities remain valid. However, Doherty et al. ( 2006 ) conducted a quantitative analysis of the UK census and Scottish Longitudinal Study and found insufficient evidence to support the

    integration of housing in developments for the purpose of improving social wellbeing. Randolph and Wood ( 2003 ) state that previous research has mainly focused on social mixing in public housing estates, with little exploration of social mixing in new build developments ( Atkinson and Kintrea, 2000 ; Cole and Shayer, 1998 ).

    Is Gentrification promoting societal integration? Most studies suggest that gentrification actually reduces societal integration at the local level. According to interviews conducted by Butler (1997) and Butler and Robson (2001; 2003), middle-income gentrifiers tend to have limited social interactions with lower-income residents. The research indicates that gentrifiers typically seek out people who share similar cultural and political interests, resulting in minimal interaction between middle and low-income occupants. Furthermore, their findings show that the most interaction occurs in areas where gentrification has homogenized the neighborhood and displaced other groups. Conversely, in areas where this has not occurred, Butler and Robson (2001) noted that differences between residents resulted in a divisive separation instead of integration.Butler and Robson (2003) discovered in their subsequent research that children played a crucial role in resident integration in middle-class preschool clubs. They found no evidence that non-middle-class children participated in these clubs, suggesting a high level of exclusion. While Butler and Robson's study raises important questions about the impact of gentrification on sustainable urban environments, it primarily focuses on the experiences of the gentrifiers.

    Davidson's research on new development and middle-income housing on the River Thames in London examined the impact of housing on social class relations. Davidson's findings suggest that the introduction of a middle-class population did not achieve the desired outcomes of the development. The temporary nature of residents

    and the lack of integration within the development limited interactions between low and middle-income occupants who do not work or socialize in the same areas. A similar study by Freeman (2006) investigated the gentrification of two black neighborhoods in New York City.

    Similar to Davidson, Freeman discovered that societal networks rarely overlapped and that gentrifiers and long-term residents typically occupied different spaces. Additionally, Freeman observed that residents were reluctant to comment on social mixing, rarely expressing their opinions in excessively positive or negative ways. Consistent with this literature, it appears unrealistic to expect different social groups to integrate when living together. As some authors have pointed out, greater neighborhood diversity does not necessarily lead to increased social interaction and can, in certain cases, encourage social conflict as much as it fosters social harmony.

    The concept of societal lodging in the UK has led to a concentration on improving inequality in housing for certain types of families, such as the poor, unemployed, and those with debt or mental health issues. This focus on societal lodging has resulted in a sorting process that forces vulnerable families into unattractive housing options. The Assorted Communities policy aims to address these issues by assisting in bettering inequality in societal lodging.

    What is encapsulated within the everyday experience of societal lodging?

    Social interactiona

    Previous Studies

    There have been three relevant studies examining the impact of assorted community lodging on social interaction. Atkinson and Kintrea (2000) conducted an exploratory study analyzing journals of 38 families.

    The study suggested that there are different forms of societal life depending on the term of office, resulting in limited interaction between residents of owner-occupied housing and renters in public housing. The neighborhood

    is seen as a central point of interaction for public housing residents only. In another study by Cole and Shaver (1998b), who analyzed 52 residents in a newly built, mixed-tenure renovation in Sheffield, they also found "only weak established social networks". Jupp's (1999:10-11) analysis of interviews with over 1,000 residents living in ten mixed-tenure estates in England concluded that "the street" is a more significant social unit than the estate. In many of the case studies analyzed, social and private housing were located on different streets, resulting in little interaction between the two groups. Jupp reported that fostering social interaction would be extremely difficult due to the overwhelming belief among residents that they "do not believe that they share many common interests with their neighbors."

    Based on a collection of studies, it is evident that different housing developments contribute to limited social interaction among residents from diverse social backgrounds. However, it is important to note that these studies focus primarily on local neighborhoods and often overlook the influence of external perceptions on the success of a development. Atkinson and Kintrea (2000) highlight the significance of this aspect and suggest it as a crucial area for future research. They report that residents appreciate the presence of higher-income occupants as it enhances the reputation and appearance of the area. This aligns with the fundamental understanding of urban policy in the UK, as stated in the preface of the Urban White Paper: "How we live our lives is shaped by where we live our lives."

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