The inequities of un-neighbourliness: how disadvantage shapes the experiences and responses of problems between neighbours

Lynda Cheshire event

Jointly hosted by the
Centre for Social Research in Health and
UNSW Practical Justice Initiative

It is well-understood that having good relations with neighbours embeds individuals in mutually supportive local social networks. Yet neighbours can equally be a source of nuisance, conflict and distress as a result of noise, nuisance pets, conflict over trees and fences and a host of other neighbourly disagreements. How people experience and respond to neighbour problems is unevenly distributed, with research suggesting that concentrated disadvantage increases the odds of ‘un-neighbourliness’ occurring, particularly when it involves threats of violence, intimidation, damage to property and physical assault. In popular discourses, this prevalence of neighbour problems among disadvantage groups is viewed through the lens of anti-social behaviour and various policy instruments are in place to deal with troublesome neighbours, particularly in the social housing sector. Yet the inequities of un-neighbourliness are rooted in structural processes that not only account for the uneven distribution of the problem, but also limit the options available to disadvantage groups in how problems are managed. Drawing on data generated through a three year ARC study on ‘un-neighbourliness’, this presentation identifies the experiences of neighbour problems among disadvantaged groups, the constraints upon how problems are managed, and the policy solutions required to help resolve the problem.

Lynda Cheshire is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Science where she is also Head of sociology and Deputy Head of School. She has over 30 years of experience and training in the sociological study of social and urban change and the way these change processes influence the way people live and interact in neighbourhoods and communities at the very local level. She is currently leading a program of research on ‘un-neighbourliness’ which explores the nature, causes and outcomes of problems between neighbours, in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders from the government and community sectors. She is author of two books and over 100 research articles, chapters and reports which have been published in leading international outlets and widely cited. Given the focus of her research, Lynda endeavours to be a ‘good’ neighbour.

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