Recasting Research on ‘Neighbourhood effects’: A Collaborative, Participatory, Trans-National Approach

  • Michael Darcy
  • Gabrielle Gwyther


This chapter critiques some of the dominant discourses of place and disadvantage as well as their epistemology. The current attention given to neighbourhood effects is seen as part of a larger ‘spatial turn’ in social science, which attempts to explain the disadvantage of poor households concentrated in poor neighbourhoods. The chapter critiques the ‘culture of poverty explanation’ of disadvantage and the associated policy response of de-concentrating poverty through the creation of mixed income neighbourhoods. It is argued that if there is little evidence in support of neighbourhood effects in the first place, then creating mixed neighbourhoods will lead to little benefit for the neighbourhood residents, a large proportion of who will be displaced as a result of the policy. The chapter further critiques quantitative research for ignoring the voice and perspectives of neighbourhood residents. It distances itself completely from positivist epistemology by proposing an alternative approach based on phenomenological epistemology and participatory action research. This alternative approach is based on a ‘collaborative university – community research’ design to understand residents’ perspectives of their neighbourhood and concentrated public housing and the policy proposals for mixed housing in Australia.


Social Capital Public Housing Neighbourhood Effect Disadvantaged Neighbourhood Concentrate Disadvantage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Allen, C. (2008). Housing market renewal and social class. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, C. (2009). The fallacy of ‘‘Housing Studies’: Philosophical problems of knowledge and understanding in housing research. Housing, Theory and Society, 26(1), 53–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arthurson, K. (2002). Creating inclusive communities through balancing social mix: A critical relationship or tenuous link? Urban Policy & Research, 20(3), 245–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bauder, H. (2002). Neighbourhood effects and cultural exclusion. Urban Studies, 39(1), 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett, L., Smith, J., & Wright, P. (2006). Where are poor people to live? Transforming public housing communities. New York: M.E. Sharpe.Google Scholar
  6. Bryson, L., & Thompson, F. (1972). An Australian Newtown: Life and leadership in a new housing suburb. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  7. Cahill, C. (2004). Defying gravity? Raising consciousness through collective research. Children’s Geographies, 2(2), 273–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cahill, C. (2007). Doing research with young people: Participatory research and the rituals of collective work. Children’s Geographies, 5(3), 297–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaskin, R., & Joseph, M. (2010). Building “community” in mixed-income developments: Assumptions, approaches, and early experiences. Urban Affairs Review, 45(3), 299–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Darcy, M. (2007). Place and disadvantage: The need for reflexive epistemology in spatial social science. Urban Policy & Research, 25(3), 347–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Darcy, M. (2010). De-concentration of disadvantage and mixed income housing: A critical discourse approach. Housing, Theory and Society, 27(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Defilippis, J. (2007). Erasing the community in order to save it? Reconstructing community and property in community development. In H. Beider (Ed.), Neighbourhood renewal and housing markets: Community engagement in the US and UK (pp. 271–289). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Galster, G. (2003). Investigating behavioural impacts of poor neighbourhoods: Towards new data and analytic strategies. Housing Studies, 18(6), 893–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Galster, G. (2011). The mechanism(s) of neighbourhood effects: Theory, evidence, and policy implications. In M. van Ham, D. Manley, N. Bailey, L. Simpson, & D. Maclennan (Eds.), Neighbourhood effects research: New perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  15. Goetz, E. G. (2003). Clearing the way. Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gwyther, G., & Possamai-Inesedy, A. (2010). Methodologies a la carte: An examination of emerging qualitative methodologies in social research. In A. Possamai-Inesedy & G. Gwyther (Eds.), New methods in social justice research for the 21st century (pp. 1–17). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Hedman, L., & van Ham, M. (2011). Understanding neighbourhood effects: Selection bias and residential mobility. In M. van Ham, D. Manley, N. Bailey, L. Simpson, & D. Maclennan (Eds.), Neighbourhood effects research: New perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Holland, B. (2006). New views of research for the 21st century: The role of engaged scholarship. In L. Silka (Ed.), Scholarship in action: Applied research and community change (pp. 1–10). Washington, DC: Department of Housing and Urban Development.Google Scholar
  19. Imbroscio, D. (2008). [U]nited and actuated by some common impulse of passion: Challenging the dispersal consensus in American housing policy research. Journal of Urban Affairs, 30(2), 111–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jencks, C., & Mayer, S. E. (1990). The social consequences of growing up in a poor neighborhood. In L. E. Lynn & M. G. H. McGeary (Eds.), Inner-city poverty in the United States (pp. 111–186). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kesby, M. (2000). Participatory diagramming: Deploying qualitative methods through an action research epistemology. Area, 32(4), 423–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Levitas, R. (1998). The inclusive society? Social exclusion and new labour. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.Google Scholar
  23. Lewis, O. (1961). The children of Sanchez. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  24. Lewis, O. (1998). The culture of poverty. Society, 35(1), 7–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lupton, R. (2003). Neighbourhood effects: Can we measure them and does it matter? (CASE paper 73). London: Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics.Google Scholar
  26. Manley, D., & van Ham, M. (2011). Neighbourhood effects, housing tenure and individual employment outcomes. In M. van Ham, D. Manley, N. Bailey, L. Simpson, & D. Maclennan (Eds.), Neighbourhood effects research: New perspectives. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  27. Mills, C. W. (1959). The sociological imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Musterd, S., Ostendorf, W., & de Vos, S. (2003). Neighbourhood effects and social mobility: A longitudinal analysis. Housing Studies, 18(6), 877–892.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nyden, P. (2006). The challenges and opportunities of engaged research. In L. Silka (Ed.), Scholarship in action: Applied research and community change. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development.Google Scholar
  30. Ozga, J., & Jones, R. (2006). Travelling and embedded policy: The case of knowledge transfer. Journal of Education Policy, 21(1), 1–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. P. L. A. Notes (1998). Participatory learning and action 33: Understanding market opportunities. PLA Notes. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.Google Scholar
  32. Peel, M. (1995). The rise and fall of social mix in an Australian new town. Journal of Urban History, 22(1), 108–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Phillips, D. C. (1987). Philosophy, science and social enquiry: Contemporary methodological controversies in social science and related applied fields of research. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Pugh, C. (1976). Intergovernmental relations and the development of Australian housing policies (Research monograph, Vol. 15). Canberra: Canberra Centre for Research on Federal Financial Relations, ANU.Google Scholar
  35. Randolph, B., & Wood, M. (2004). The benefits of tenure diversification: Final report. Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.Google Scholar
  36. Sassen, S. (2008). Deciphering political possibilities for national states and citizens in a global economy – Plenary address. 1st ISA Forum of Sociology, Barcelona (September).Google Scholar
  37. Stubbs, J., Randolph, B., & Judd, B. (2005). The Bonnyrigg living communities baseline study. Sydney: University of New South Wales – City Futures.Google Scholar
  38. Subedi, B., & Rhee, J. E. (2008). Negotiating collaboration across differences. Qualitative Inquiry, 14, 1070–1091.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Uitermark, J., Duyvendak, J. W., & Kleinhans, R. (2007). Gentrification as a government strategy: Social control and social cohesion in Hoogvliet, Rotterdam. Environment and Planning A, 39(1), 125–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vale, L. J. (1997). Empathological places: Residents’ ambivalence toward remaining in public housing. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 16(1), 159–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. van Ham, M., & Manley, D. (2010). The effect of neighbourhood housing tenure mix in labour market outcomes: A longitudinal investigation of neighbourhood effects. Journal of Economic Geography, 10(2), 257–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Warr, D. (2005). There goes the neighbourhood: The malign effects of stigma. State of Australian Cities 2005. Griffith University, Brisbane 30 Nov – 2 Dec.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, W. J. (1987). The truly disadvantaged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesUniversity of Western SydneyPenrithAustralia

Personalised recommendations