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Building Community: The Neighborhood Context of Local Social Organization Essay

Using the data in the table provided on pages 20 and 21, what can you say about the relationships people have with their neighbours and immediate community?

Provided is a table, which was taken from a study by the research consultancy ICM on different aspects of neighbouring. This table looks at the responses of people to answers on neighbouring, using different groupings. On the top, the general heading shows the gender, age, social class and regions. The horizontal axis identifies the answers that were give, lead by the weighted base. The header gender divides into three subheadings, the total of all the people that were asked separated into male and female.

The next general heading- the age_ divides into 6 different age groups, beginning at the age of 18 and ending in 65+. From the age of 25 there is an increase of 9. Social class, another general heading is separated into 4 subheadings, while the general heading regions divides into 5 subheadings. So, the horizontal axis describes some characteristics of the people which were asked. What are the main patterns in this table?

The row gender, here divided into male and female, doesn’t reveal any huge differences in the percentage of how those questions were answered. The percentages are quite close together. The row social class, with 4 different subheadings, reveals, that there is only one huge difference in question one: “I have a very good relationship with my neighbours”. Class AB with the highest percentage of 46% and Class C2 the lowest with 32%. A difference of 14%. Wales & South West, as one subheading of the general heading region, seems to have the best relationship with their neighbours with a percentage of 42%, examining answer one, followed by the Midlands.

But here also, it is only a difference of 10% in total in comparison to Scotland, where it is 32% The biggest difference of a good relationship to neighbours is to find at the general heading age. The subheading 25-34 has a better relationship to their neighbours (25%) than the age group 18-24(18%). But this increases remarkable up to the age group 65+ with a percentage of 59%. What are the interesting features?

The pre-given answers are divided into positive answers(6), such as:”I have a very good relationship with my neighbours” and negative answers(6) such as:”I don’t have a very good relationship to my neighbours”. Only one answer is kind of neutral.

Throughout all subheadings, the answer:”I spend a lot of time with my neighbours” are answered quite similar, the biggest difference here is 6%, at the age subheading again. Also, the neutral answer has similarities in terms of percentage. The table shows, that even that you have a very good relationship with your neighbours, does not necessarily mean, you spend a lot of time with your neighbours.

References: Source:ICM(2011) Good Neighbours Survey:Prepared on Behalf of Band and Brown by ICM Research.London,ICM Research Ltd.

End of TMA03 part one
Word count: 497

TMA03 Part 2
Examine the argument that
“Good fences make good neighbours”

1.Social identity
2.Relationship with neighbours
3.Good fences do make good neighbours

1. What is a social identity?
According to Taylor(2009), the term identity is widely used but rather difficult to pin down. People have many different identities. A different identity (a group or collective identity is also given by difference from other groups),for example, being a woman,not a man and so on. A group or collective identity is both individual, saying something about a particular person, and social, because it refers to others who are similar or different. An identity given by connections to other people and social situations is social identity. Those different social identities can overlap, which means, the definitions are not mutually exclusive. Some kind of a relationship for example can be people in the same street that see each other and say hello to each other-they share a relational identity as neighbours, a collective identity as local residents.

In most situations, people understand identities in terms of what people do rather than what they are. The sociologist Harold Garfinkel suggests, that social life is in constant motion. People also have the skills and knowledge to create and maintain social order. Social order, which regulates everyday social interaction between neighbours, often consists of contradictory obligations and norms, which have to be negotiated in the course of everyday social life in the street.(Byford,2009,p.267) As described by Joanna Bourke people developed for example an distance mechanism to maintain a good relationship to their neighbours.

2. Everybody needs good neighbours?
Neighbours are expected to have a “general disposition towards friendliness while , at the same time, respecting others” “need for privacy and reserve” (Willmott, cited in Byford,2009,p.253) Depending on a variety of factors such as age, cultural background, socio-economic status and also personal characteristics as well as personal preferences makes up the individuals relationship to a neighbour. There is no “code of conduct” or a manual, how to behave as a good neighbour, however people acquire over times knowledge through socialisation, through the practice of being a neighbour. Life in a neighbourhood is ordered and structured.

There are rules, habits and conventions, which regulate how people live together and interact in the street.(Byford,2009,p.262) When neighbouring goes wrong usually communications breaks down. In todays society a mediator is brought in, to re-establish communication, and neighbours should resolve their problems themselves.

3.Why does a fence makes a good neighbour?
Part of any streets infrastructure are timber fences, hedges, walls, gates curtains and other structural artefacts that are designed to keep residents apart rather than bring them together. The expression “Good fences make good neighbours”, captures the essence of a paradox that permeates life in every neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods are, or are expected to be communities of people living together, while, on the other hand, they are a collection of distinct homes inhabited by individuals, families and households whose privacy is guarded from intrusion by outsiders, including neighbours.(Byford,2009,p.251) With the word fence is not just only actually the physical fence meant. It also means those structures mentioned above. Everybody wants and needs good neighbours, but also everybody wants and needs privacy. An example given by Byford on page 251 when he looked at buying a house. He was told, how great the neighbourhood was, how kind and nice the next door neighbours were. On the other hand most of the time the neighbours weren’t even there.

A good fence does make a good neighbour. “Fences” are there, to keep the neighbours at a distance people want them to be.


Taylor,S.(2009)”Who do we think we are? Identities in everyday life” in Taylor,S.,Hinchcliffe,S.,Clarke,J.and Bromley,S.(eds) Making Social Lives,Milton Keynes,The Open University Hinchcliffe,S.(2009)”Connecting people and places” inTaylor,S.,Hinchcliffe,S.,Clarke,J.and Bromley,S.(eds) Making Social Lives,Milton Keynes,The Open University Byford,J.(2009) “Living together,living apart:the social life of the neighbourhood in Taylor,S.,Hinchcliffe,S.,Clarke,J.and Bromley,S.(eds) Making Social Lives,Milton Keynes,The Open University

End of TMA03 part 2
Word count: 658

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