Neighbourhoods: Evolving Ideas, Evidence and Changing Policies

  • Duncan Maclennan


A major issue for those interested in developing policy from research is that the vast majority of the academic contributions to the neighbourhood effects debates have come from work conducted in the United States of America. More often than not, the case studies have evolved from the Chicago school. In contrast policy makers are increasingly requiring more locally sourced examples from which to develop interventions and policies. In exploring why neighbourhood effects research has failed to have the expected impact on urban policy the first section of the chapter suggests a set of issues that need to be addressed in order for research to link directly with policy outcomes. Firstly, the broad area of work that is defined as neighbourhood effects consists of multiple disciplines researching from their own, often competing experiences and perspectives making it easy for policy makers to ignore the research. Secondly, researchers need to have a convincing story to tell policy makers. Thirdly, the research needs to integrate the multiple aspects of individual life courses and the range of residential contexts through which people move. Thus, a better understanding of the processes behind neighbourhood effects is called for: This includes understanding better what can constitute a neighbourhood and neighbourhood space and whether they need to be spatially and temporally contiguous. Similarly, we need to know much more about how individuals choose their living environments, how they search for housing, what trade-offs they make and what cost structures they use when making their decisions. There are symmetries in the need to understand the effects of partial and missing information on these processes. Finally, we need to better understand the processes that are missing in the black-boxes that are used mediate neighbourhood effects. What mechanisms are important, for whom, when are they important and where. Only when we can thread all of these competing facets together will the academic discipline be in a better shape to deliver a more coherent story to policy makers and move beyond the policy mistakes of the past.


Social Housing Neighbourhood Effect Place Policy Neighbourhood Attribute Housing Choice 
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.



I am grateful to Alice Oldfield for comments on this chapter and to David Manley for the incisive comments he made on an earlier draft. Remaining errors are all my own.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science and Business Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Housing Research, School of Geography and GeosciencesUniversity of St AndrewsSt Andrews, FifeScotland, UK

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