In academic research, neighbour relationships are generally viewed as either absent – having been gradually eroded by processes of mobility and privatisation – or as positive in the way they engender greater levels of community resilience, neighbourhood attachment and reduced fear of crime. Yet, despite anecdotal accounts that the incidence of neighbour problems is increasing, less is known about ‘un-neighbourliness’ – the negative side of neighbouring – or the factors that contribute towards rising neighbour conflicts in urban settings. This paper begins to fill this gap by using a mixed methods approach incorporating survey data on reported neighbour nuisances, city council complaint records and qualitative data from mediation cases to examine the kinds of issues that lead to neighbour disputes and complaints in Queensland. It then examines how the incidence of neighbour problems and complaints is spatially patterned across the city of Brisbane according to the socio-demographic characteristics of residential neighbourhoods, and identifies conditions of concentrated disadvantage and residential instability, and processes of urban consolidation and gentrification, as particularly influential in explaining the kinds of problems residents of particular neighbourhoods are likely to encounter. The presentation concludes with a discussion of further areas of inquiry on the phenomenon of ‘un-neighbourliness’ and the potential use of administrative data for examining neighbourly relations.
Lynda Cheshire is a Professor of Sociology in the School of Social Science where she is also Head of sociology and Deputy Head of School. She has over 30 years of experience and training in the sociological study of social and urban change and the way these change processes influence the way people live and interact in neighbourhoods and communities at the very local level. She is currently leading a program of research on ‘un-neighbourliness’ which explores the nature, causes and outcomes of problems between neighbours, in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders from the government and community sectors. She is author of two books and over 100 research articles, chapters and reports which have been published in leading international outlets and widely cited. Given the focus of her research, Lynda endeavours to be a ‘good’ neighbour.