Poverty Street
The dynamics of neighbourhood decline and renewal

Five: Social interaction and neighbourhood stigma


This chapter provides a discussion on social interaction and neighbourhood reputation. One of the most striking features of the interviews with residents, who were mainly active within their neighbourhoods, was their allusion to the strength of community ties. Despite the evidence of strong community, it would be a mistake to portray the areas as single communities, socially cohesive and integrated. As communities shrank, residents found it increasingly difficult to exercise informal social control over neighbours’ behaviour and neighbourhood conditions. Community was also made up of myriad social networks and meant different things to different people. Defensiveness caused social networks to shrink and to be less effective in maintaining social norms and standards. Meanwhile, the extent of overlap with networks outside the neighbourhood was limited by poverty, local employment, or worklessness, and by the traditional strength of local social networks.

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