When a new suburb, town or estate is established, planners must take a great deal of consideration for how neighbours will interact and the amount of community spirit it will produce. But the question is whether high community spirit and a high level of neighbourly interaction is desirable or needed in today’s society as households become more independent and move further away from each other. This is a question that I ask after reading three famous studies by Michael Young and Peter Wilmott (1957), Lyn Richards (1990) and Mark Peel (2000) on neighbours and how they interact in different housing developments.
All three readings discuss different aspects of neighbours and the connection between them, but the universal question that seemed to be attempted to be answered by all was what the causes of changes in neighbourly interaction were.
Young and Willmott’s classic study was conducted from 1953 to 1955 by taking a selection of working class families and residents from a borough in East London, Bethnal Green, and moved them to a new estate on the outer fringes of London, Greenleigh, to see how they interacted with their neighbours. Intriguing results ensued, which deserve further discussion. (They stated that they were not
Peel"tms paper is almost like a summary of Young and Wilmotts and Richards studies and his major arguments are:More money to have play, social activities and entertaining in one house. Both Young and Wilmott and Richards (1990) found that neighbours took the place of absent kin. )The main subject that Young and Wilmott address is the wider family as "kinship networks"tm and how strong it is in the inner city. Richards highlights the differences between neighbours and close friends:Friends have to be there if you need them and care constantly, unlike neighboursNeighbours have to have enough in commonoA real friend has to have a lot in commonFriendship is personal, private and involving one person rather than a whole familyRichards study and the message she is portraying suggests to me that she maybe contradicting the theme to the famous TV series Neighbours (being a fairly new estate on the outer suburbs of Melbourne). Since Greenleigh was a new development, it did not have the same history and the people came from different communities with different histories and different interests. He concludes by asserting that good neighbourhoods are created by more than the hustle and bustle on the streets and public places, it is how we think about the strangers that cannot be seen nor known and most importantly, the balance between public and private fortunes. Peel"tms recent paper discusses what a community thinks about neighbouring and its community. As the devil"tms advocate for Richards and Peel (2000), as an alternative to society becoming deliberately distant from neighbours, maybe it still wants to have close, friendly neighbours but just don"tmt know how to go about it. He observed that house-watching, in respect to neighbourhood watch, was considered a symbol of a good neighbour. Young and Wilmott noticed that at Greenleigh, there was a challenge to live the life that their new house suggests. I found with Young and Wilmotts"tm study that the Bethnal Greeners liked to have their neighbours as good friends, which is why they thought they were "unfriendly"tm at Greenleigh but in fact, they were still very "neighbourly"tm but Richards saw otherwise in her study. Neighbourliness and community spirit rest largely on shared needs and interestsImportant to know "about"tm your neighbours rather than "intimately"tm. Always comments about privacy, family and control of your own destinyoThe dream to have is a good neighbour who respects privacy. I thought from this observation that it seems like that will bring similarities to the new community and it could be building block for a stronger community in the future. " I agree to that of what a good neighbour should be but if you asked a resident of Bethnal Green thirty years before this, I am sure the answer would have been very different or to a totally different degree.