Defining and delineating urban neighbourhoods: a case study of housing areas in Brent, North London

McGuire, John Anthony (2014) Defining and delineating urban neighbourhoods: a case study of housing areas in Brent, North London. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

There is no geographical definition of the neighbourhood despite it being the chosen spatial scale for U.K. government policy tackling social injustice and rebuilding democracy, and the setting for the majority of life’s experiences where an individual’s lifelong welfare is largely determined. Consequently, resources are targeted sub-optimally with environmental and social dynamics largely undiagnosed. This has fuelled an urgent demand for revealing the nature of neighbourhoods, and how they can be identified on the ground and delineated on maps. Implementing a positive methodology I build upon the foremost theoretically-supported pedestrian-street network neighbourhood model, harnessing established theory, and present an integrative geographical theory of the neighbourhood and its practical manifestation to address the research problem. Using Grannis's empirical work as a benchmark I test the transferability of his methodology to the UK and the explanatory power of my housing area neighbourhood model, using correlation analysis, in two London case study areas, with positive results. Housing areas arise from the physical and built environments and are shown to explain social distributions better than other spatial units tested, and compare favourably with applied surrogate neighbourhoods. I then identify the datasets required to roll out the methodology for developing a practical, meaningful and bounded neighbourhood geography. Further analysis confirms the role of wealth as the great social and spatial segregator. The neighbourhood is re-conceptualised as an holistic and commonly understood entity, whilst the spatial precision introduced facilitates measurement and assessment for optimal service and resource provision, as well as monitoring and intervention. Presenting structural and social homophily as the geneses of social interaction patterns and the explanation for how space is transformed into place is a paradigm shift in our understanding of this fundamental geographical concept which promises to stimulate additional theoretical substantiation and development whilst providing a framework for phenomenological and ethnographical approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Geography, Environment & Development Studies
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2014 11:04
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 07:08
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/55

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