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Neighbourhood governance, social exclusion and urban renaissance: a case study of Walker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Ali MadanipourORCiD



This paper explores neighbourhood governance and social exclusion in the Walker neighbourhood in the East End of Newcastle upon Tyne. The paper is based upon research conducted as part of an EU Framework 5 project entitled Neighbourhood Governance and the Capacity for Social Integration. Research was carried out between 2002-2004 in nine countries, examining a total of ten neighbourhoods; two in the UK - Newcastle and London – and one each in Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Portugal, Holland, Greece, Germany and Denmark. Underpinning the research has been a growing awareness and concern amongst the EU and member countries about the dangers of social polarisation. Government departments and committees have been set up specifically to investigate and respond to the challenges of social exclusion. Previous research by the same team explored the everyday life experiences of people living in deprived neighbourhoods: the socio-spatial setting within which many social exclusion problems become manifest. This research found that neighbourhood governance, the way in which places function, can exacerbate social exclusion. The current research, the basis of this paper, has an explicit concern with the relationship between neighbourhood governance and social integration. The research focuses on the question of whether systems of neighbourhood governance can help, or indeed hinder, the capacity for social integration. A central hypothesis underpinning the research is that: ‘the dominant structures of neighbourhood governance are not very well adapted to combat social exclusion and in some cases may be counter-productive, that is, ‘impede the development of self generative capacities present in the deprived neighbourhoods’ (Allen et al 2000). An important question is whether there is untapped potential for increasing levels of social integration through the development of local relationships and changes in the way that local services are delivered. The research began with the premise that the neighbourhood can be understood as a bundle of problems. Within the project ‘neighbourhood’ has a spatial definition; recognising that boundaries are always to some extent arbitrary and the importance of relationships with the surrounding area. The neighbourhood unit is understood as the interface between area-based policies and broader processes and the place where much of everyday life is experienced and negotiated and where exclusionary processes are often most explicitly expressed. However, neighbourhood is also an underdeveloped dimension of formal government and governance structures. The concept of governance covers the range of formal and informal relationships which make an entity. Neighbourhood governance is about the way in which a place functions and key questions centre on who is making decisions and how they are made. In every neighbourhood a range of service providers exist with their own modus operandi and priorities. This results in complex patterns of service delivery which do not always reach people in the way that they need. Fragmented systems and structures of neighbourhood governance often fail to produce a coherent vision for the neighbourhood and are not well designed or adapted to combat social exclusion. However there are many formal and informal links which seek to overcome the fragmentation and the research explores where and how this works. One of the premises of the research is that neighbourhood governance may be doing little to address the problems of social exclusion and may even be exacerbating it. The research explores the scope for neighbourhood governance to contribute towards social re-integration. The case studies explore conditions of everyday life in the neighbourhood and the mechanisms of neighbourhood governance; investigating the role and nature of agency interventions attempting to combat social exclusion and the delivery of local services. The case studies also examine everyday life in the neighbourhood from the perspective of local residents, their experience and feelings about the neighbourhood and how it is managed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Madanipour A, Merridew T

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Unpublished

Series Title: Research Working Paper

Year: 2004

Institution: Newcastle University

Place Published: unpublished