Article

Towards More Social Cohesion in Large Post-Second World War Housing Estates? A Case Study in Utrecht, the Netherlands

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Abstract

The last few years have seen many studies of large post-Second World War housing estates. At present they are often the most deprived areas of European cities. The turnover of the population on these estates is characteristically rapid, leading to considerable socio-economic and socio-cultural changes and a multi-ethnic neighbourhood. Such areas often have to contend with severe physical, social and economic problems and the consequent dissatisfaction of the residents. This combination of rapid and selective population turnover and increasing numbers of problems may well affect aspects of social cohesion within these neighbourhoods, particularly the social networks. This process is regrettable, because social cohesion is regarded in a positive light, something that enhances the quality of life. Stimulating social cohesion is therefore an important objective of many policies that focus on large post-Second World War housing estates. The authors have found it interesting to discover how important social cohesion is in the opinions and the lives of the inhabitants rather than the policy makers. In their opinion, urban policies focus on social cohesion while the inhabitants' views of its relevance are unknown. On the basis of this paper, certain aspects of social cohesion in large post-Second World War housing estates appear to be valued, but housing market behaviour, such as residential moves, is hardly affected by aspects of social cohesion. Other aspects, such as moving to a better house, are much more relevant. The results may put into doubt the stress placed in urban policies on social cohesion.

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... In the great number of publications which have appeared on this subject, apart from construction faults and a steadily decreasing quality of living, the major subject approached is sociospatial processes (Divinsky 2004;Durmanov & Dubbeling 2004;Kicinski 2004;Turkington et al. 2004;Van Kempen et al. 2005;Musterd & Van Kempen 2007;Milstead 2008). Frequently the authors reach the conclusion that the Central and Eastern European large-scale housing estates (LHE) are problem areas which find themselves in a downward spiral which in the longer term will lead to a sociospatial marginalisation of their occupants (Szelenyi 1996;Wassenberg 2004;Beckhoven & Van Kempen 2006). In contrast to this view, first studies are emerging in which a high level of residents' satisfaction with the home and the socio-economic heterogeneity of the large-scale housing estates are stressed, in particular with respect to intraurban comparison with other housing quarters (Kovács & Douglas 2004;Bernt & Kabisch 2006;Liebmann 2006;Großmann & Kabisch 2009). ...
... Looking at potential mobility and residential satisfaction one can notice a rather high stability of the selected large-scale housing estates with high levels of residential satisfaction (except Budapest-Havanna) and low levels of potential mobility compared to figures from Western European large-scale housing estates (Beckhoven & Van Kempen 2006). Although these figures seem to be similar for the selected CEE large housing estates, there are again certain inter-urban differences especially regarding potential residential mobility. ...
... Accordingly Central and Eastern European large-scale housing estates cannot be generally branded as places of decline and social decay, as is too often the case from a Western European perspective 14 (Wassenberg 2004;Beckhoven & Van Kempen 2006). ...
Article
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... Against the backdrop of globalization, neo-liberalisation and the retrenchment of the state, cities in Western countries have faced the threat of increasing social inequality, instability, and insecurity over the last three decades. The issue of neighbourhood cohesion has thus become a major concern for policymakers, academics, and the public, as neighbourhood cohesion is considered a foundation for social cohesion (Forrest & Kearns, 2001;Gaffikin & Morrissey, 2011;Robinson, 2005;Van Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006). A number of initiatives have been implemented and aimed at strengthening neighbourhood cohesion and cementing neighbourly relations in recent years, especially for neighbourhoods considered deprived, such as "New Deal for Communities" in England ("The New Deal for Communities Experience: A Final Assessment"; Department for Communities and Local Government 2010), "From Special Needs Neighbourhood towards Power Neighbourhoods" in Netherlands ("Action Plan Power Neighbourhoods: From Special Needs Neighbourhood Towards Power Neighbourhoods"; Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, 2007) and "Hoping VI" in the United States ("Hoping VI", Department of Housing and Urban Development, 1993). ...
... Based on the above definition, they broke down the concept of social cohesion further into five different dimensions: territorial belonging and identity, social networks and social capital, common values and a civil culture, social order and social control, and social solidarity and reductions in wealth disparities (Kearns & Forrest, 2000). This conceptual framework has been adopted by some scholars in their empirical studies about neighbourhood cohesion in the United Kingdom and Netherlands (Dekker & Bolt, 2005;Forrest & Kearns, 2001;Van Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006). In this study, we use Kearns and Forrest's (2000) definition of social cohesion, focusing on three particular dimensions relevant to neighbourhood matters: territorial belonging, social networks, and a civil culture. ...
... Neighbourhood attachment, neighbourly interaction, and community participation are highly interrelated realms (Friedkin, 2004;Kearns & Forrest, 2000;Van Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006;Van Kempen & Bolt, 2009). First, residents who have frequent interactions with neighbours tend to show a strong attachment to their neighbourhoods, as they may develop a sense of security, comfort, and social order through daily interactions with neighbours (Brown et al., 2003;Dekker, 2007;Forrest & Kearns, 2001;Raymond, Brown, & Weber, 2010). ...
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... Large housing estates are often seen as socially problematic neighbourhoods in European cities, providing homes for lower-income residents, struggling with crime, vacancy and social decline (Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006;Wassenberg, 2004). However, a closer look at large housing estates also reveals that there are substantial differences among countries, regions and cities (Murie et al., 2003;Van Kempen et al., 2005;Van Kempen & Musterd, 1991). ...
... It was only in Budapest-Havanna where more than one-third of respondents indicated that they wanted to leave the estate. This figure is very similar to those recorded in some West European housing estates (Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006). The rate of planned mobility is lowest in Leipzig-Grünau, where intense population change already took place in the 1990s, and since then the local society has become more stabilised. ...
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... Immigrants 1 are increasingly important for demographic, social and economic sustainability of developed countries, within a scope of global environments, ageing Emília Malcata Rebelo 50 populations, and free circulation of people (Fortuijn et al., 1998;Ellis, 2001;Garbaye, 2002;Bolt et al., 2008). So politicians and decision-makers are required to settle integration policies that support social and economic competitiveness, cohesion and sustainability, especially in the fields of housing and neighbourhoods, labour market and involvement in local communities (Andersen and Van Kempen, 2003;Dekker and Van Kempen, 2004;Van Beckhoven and Van Kempen, 2006;Van Marissing et al., 2006;Musterd and Van Kempen, 2007;Rebelo, 2010). Immigrants´ and integration issues have been studied since the seventies by the European Council and by the OECD Continuous Reporting System on Migration (SOPEMI). ...
Chapter
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... Furthermore, long-term residents of a neighbourhood might have stronger preferences to move only a short distance away because they are more attached to the area (Lewicka, 2010). Since the elderly have often lived in their dwellings longer than younger residents, they are expected to be more attached to their neighbourhood (Campbell & Lee, 1992;Oh & Kim, 2009;van Beckhoven & van Kempen, 2006) and to express stronger preferences to move only a short distance. Finally, families with children might want to move only a short distance in order to keep their children in the same social environment and thus provide them with stability after a move (Nivalainen, 2004). ...
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Urban restructuring—the large-scale demolition of low-rent dwellings, followed by the construction of more upmarket alternatives—forces residents to make a step in their housing career. Because displaced residents tend to have a low socioeconomic position, they are often confined to the most affordable parts of the housing stock. Since these dwellings are generally concentrated in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighbourhoods, displaced residents are likely to move to such neighbourhoods. However, they do have a measure of freedom to choose their new neighbourhood. This article reveals which kinds of households move to disadvantaged neighbourhoods and why they do so. An analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data collected in five Dutch cities shows that not only displaced households' restrictions but also their preferences are crucial to understand their relocation choices.
... Faced with the above complex nature of social cohesion, researchers adopted multidimension measurement to understand community cohesion better. Kearns et al. established a social cohesion framework, which includes five aspects: belonging and identity, social networks and capital, common values and civil culture, social order and control, and social solidarity and disparity reductions in the rich and the poor [16], which were adopted in multiple studies [17][18][19]. In addition to the five dimensions mentioned above, Colic-Peisker considered feelings of attachment and belonging, participation, services, neighborly help, and neighborhood built environment for community cohesion [6]. ...
Article
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Population aging has become one of the most prominent population trends in China and worldwide. Given the retirement and physical limitation of the elderly, the neighborhood has gradually become the center of their daily lives and communication. Community cohesion plays an essential role in improving the elderly’s subjective wellbeing. However, most present studies on the concept and relationship between different dimensions of community cohesion are mainly in western countries. Meanwhile, most of the studies on the relationship between community cohesion and subjective wellbeing only focused on one aspect of community cohesion such as community interaction. To address this research gap, this study sampled 20 communities in Guangzhou, conducted a questionnaire survey on 969 elderly people, and explored the relationship between four aspects of community cohesion (community interaction, environmental satisfaction, belonging, and participation) and their associations with subjective wellbeing using the Structural Equation Model (SEM). In addition, we performed multi-group analysis to study the association differences among older individuals in communities with different socioeconomic types. We found that: (1) The conceptual relationship between different aspects of community cohesion among older adults is significant; (2) Community environmental satisfaction, interaction, and belonging associate with the elderly’s subjective wellbeing, whereas there is no significant association between community participation and subjective wellbeing; (3) Mental health is an important mediating factor connecting community cohesion and subjective wellbeing, whereas physical health is not. (4) The association pattern of older adults in communities with different socio-economic status are identical, whereas the association strengths are different. In high Socio-Economic Status Index (SESI) communities (communities where older adults with relatively high socioeconomic attributes gather, such as high income and education level), community belonging and participation are significantly associated with community environmental satisfaction and interaction, respectively. In low SESI communities (communities in which older adults with relatively low socioeconomic attributes gather, such as low income and education level), community interaction, belonging, and participation considerably link to community environmental satisfaction, interaction, and belonging, respectively. Regarding the association between community cohesion and subjective wellbeing, community interaction has stronger linkage with the elderly’s subjective wellbeing of in high-SESI aging community than low-SESI aging community. While community environmental satisfaction has stronger association with the elderly’s subjective wellbeing of the elderly in low-SESI aging community than high-SESI aging community. Therefore, it is sensible for community planning to focus on community environment improvement and vibrant community activities organization.
... Furthermore, long-term residents of a neighbourhood might have stronger preferences to move only a short distance away because they are more attached to the area (Lewicka, 2010). Since the elderly have often lived in their dwellings longer than younger residents, they are expected to be more attached to their neighbourhood (Campbell & Lee, 1992;Oh & Kim, 2009;van Beckhoven & van Kempen, 2006) and to express stronger preferences to move only a short distance. Finally, families with children might want to move only a short distance in order to keep their children in the same social environment and thus provide them with stability after a move (Nivalainen, 2004). ...
Article
The existence of deprived urban neighbourhoods leads many governments to adopt policies of urban restructuring aimed at changing the socio-physical structure of these areas. Such policies often take form in the demolition of social rented dwellings and the displacement of residents. Although we know quite a lot about the effects of displacement on adults, little attention has been paid to the effects on youth. This paper provides insight into the effects of urban restructuring on the dwelling and neighbourhood conditions of youth between 12 and 21 in Utrecht (the Netherlands). The situation of forced movers over the last 10 years is compared with a control group of other movers. The findings indicate that many youth who were forced to relocate perceive that they moved to better dwellings. However, the improvements were generally small and more than half moved to low-income neighbourhoods similar to those they had left.
... ). Die Befunde in der Fachliteratur dazu sind allerdings durchaus widersprüchlich. Einige Studien kommen zu der Schlussfolgerung, dass die Grosswohnsiedlungen in Mittel-und Osteuropa Problemgebiete in einer Abwärtsspirale sind, deren Bewohner langfristig sozialräumliche Marginalisierung erfahren werden (Beckhoven & Van Kempen 2006; Restate 2005; Szelenyi 1996; Wassenberg 2004). Im Gegensatz dazu weisen andere Studien auf die hohe Zufriedenheit der Bewohner mit ihrer Wohnsituation hin und betonen die soziostrukturelle Heterogenität und Persistenz (Bernt & Kabisch 2006; Burmeister 2009; Kovács & Douglas 2004; Liebmann 2006; Neugebauer et al. 2011). ...
... Since then, problems mostly have accumulated, despite the numerous urban regeneration initiatives that have been taken in many European cities. Moreover, a growing pile of evidence showed that traditional approaches based upon physical comprehensive masterplanning are both insufficient as no longer feasible due to cutbacks to tackle the problems these areas face (Ouwehand & Davis, 2004;Kleinhans, 2005;Van Beckhoven & Van Kempen, 2006;Slob et al., 2008; Figure 1) [AQ2] [AQ3] ...
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... Although estate residents' experiences and perceptions have been widely studied (e.g., Hopton/Hunt 1996;Hastings 2004;Boyce 2006;Van Beckhoven/Van Kempen 2006;Musterd 2009;Dekker et al. 2011;Lindgren/Nilsen 2012;Kovács/Herfert 2012;Kabisch/Grossman 2013), there is a scarcity of reliable, large-scale evidence on where estates in general stand in terms of local social life compared to other kinds of neighbourhoods. Many recent large-scale studies stem from the RESTATE project, which examined thirty post-WWII housing estates across Europe that were selected in a non-random fashion on the basis of problems such as insecurity, unemployment, physical decay, and stigmatisation. ...
Chapter
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Social disorder in the neighbourhood, such as threatening behaviour, vandalism or public intoxication, has been found to increase feelings of insecurity (Brunton-Smith/Sturgis 2011; Kemppainen et al. 2014) and expose residents to health problems (Steptoe/Feldman 2011). Disorder may also shape moving intentions and behaviour in ways that deepen segregation (Skifter Andersen 2008). In many European countries, post-WWII housing estates have received a negative reputation, one associated with insecurity and disorder (e.g. Hastings 2004; Dekker et al. 2005; Dekker/Van Kempen 2005).
... Large-scale housing estates constructed in European cities after WWII are often regarded as socially problematic neighbourhoods providing homes for lower-income residents and struggling with crime, insecurity, vacancy and segregation (Wassenberg 2004;Beckhoven and Van Kempen 2006). However, a closer look at large housing estates reveals that there are some fundamental differences between countries, regions and even within cities (Van Kempen et al 2005:3, Mustard, van Kempen andRowlands 2009). ...
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The change in societal system since the 1990s has been shaping the city regions in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The urban social space has transformed as well, reflecting changed local housing markets and qualities, new housing preferences and increased residential mobili-ties among city dwellers. So more than 20 years of societal transformation, distinct socio-spatial development trends have emerged, new processes loom, and the contexts and factors determining these developments are becoming evident. However so far, the studies focussing on socio-spatial change in post-socialist European cities have missed to reveal and explain the entangled socio-spatial changings and persistencies of different neigbourhoods within an ur-ban region in a systematic and comparative way. In consequence, it seems difficult to identify similar as well as different patterns of socio-spatial development and the paths of emergence in CEE metropolises. Thus, the background is missing to discuss the concept of the “post-socialist city” in a critically and empirically well-founded way. The following paper seeks to address these shortcomings. It merges current research and en-riches the gained insights by primary, comparative case study research which was carried out in the CEE urban regions of Leipzig, Budapest, Vilnius, Sofia and St. Petersburg. In doing so, the authors reveal on the one hand similar trends of socio-spatial development in CEE urban regions: the rise of the new suburbia, the stability of large-scale housing estates in the face of many negative scenarios and the rediscovery and upgrading of the inner cities following a long period of descent. On the other hand, the authors argue for differentiated patterns of so-cio-spatial developments in the city regions after 1990, which reflect the different paths of post-socialist urban development – paths that are based on the hybrid eclipsing and diverse forms of socialist and transformative legacy as well as transnational influence. Finally, the paper seeks to integrate previous research about the topic of socio-spatial change in CEE and to con-tribute empirically well-founded to the conceptual discussion of the “post-socialist city”.
Chapter
In most European countries many neighbourhoods were explicitly planned and many dwellings were built in the first three decades after World War II. Housing production was considered necessary because of the postwar housing shortage and a growing number of households. Many of these dwellings were built in relatively large social housing estates, often in green and spacious environments. Although some mix of housing types did exist, large numbers of dwellings were built in rather monotonous apartment complexes and often they were affordable for households with low to medium incomes. Initially these areas were considered to be desirable by the new inhabitants: people moved there, because they liked it (Dekker and Van Kempen 2004).
Chapter
To tackle urban social problems, policy makers in several European countries are increasingly relying on so-called integrated, multi-sector, area-based initiatives (or policies) (Parkinson, 1998). Policies, such as the Dutch Big Cities Policies and the British New Deal for Communities, focus on tackling urban social problems at the neighbourhood level and strive to regenerate a selection of ‘worst’ neighbourhoods. Often the objectives of neighbourhood regeneration efforts are to tackle social economic deprivation as well as to improve ‘liveability’ in the targeted areas. Liveability is a subjective notion among residents that refers to place-based elements which are related to the daily living environment. These elements may include the quality of the housing stock, urban design, physical appearances, cleanliness, quality of public space, safety, and perhaps some degree of social interaction among neighbours. Likewise, a great deal of interventions are aimed at improving the live-ability of the environment by improving and renovating public space and apartment blocks, by improving access to services, preventing the senses from drowning in odours, and by dealing with crime. The expectation is that regeneration will have a positive influence on the residents’ perception of their neighbourhood. This is reflected in the importance of the perception, or satisfaction, of residents in regeneration policy evaluations (e.g. Leidelmeijer and Van Kamp, 2003; Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, 2005).
Chapter
Only since the beginning of the 1990s has research attention for post-WWII large housing areas started systematically. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that in the 1970s and 1980s the older (pre-war) neighbourhoods in European cities were subject to processes of regeneration and gentrification, which resulted in physical, social and economic improvement of many of these areas. On the other hand, because of the declining physical quality, and because of massive population changes in the post-WWII areas (low-income and often migrant households were forced to migrate to these areas, because the older areas were renovated or gentrified and had become too expensive for them), these parts of the cities underwent radical changes. They very quickly, and sometimes unexpectedly, became the most important housing areas for low-income households in a large number of European cities.
Chapter
Since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, intense research has been focused on the manifold processes and patterns of change in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) triggered by the breakdown of the socialist system and shaped by increasing globalization and internationalization. Urban research on socio-spatial issues has boomed, producing, on the one hand, empirical studies that investigated relevant spatial and societal processes such as suburbanization, gentrification or marginalization as single phenomena detached from urban regional contexts — comparing, for example, socio-spatial processes in large-scale housing estates of different cities in CEE. On the other hand, studies emerged which portrayed and explained the entangled socio-spatial changing and persistence within one city-region (Sýkora 2007, Marcińczak 2012). Until now (2013), however, no studies have taken a city-regional investigatory approach which considers the inter-playing developments of different neighbourhood types while at the same time comparing these city-regional insights among post-socialist European countries. More than 20 years after the start of societal transformation in CEE, clear socio-spatial development trends are showing, new processes are being indicated, the fundamental factors determining these developments are becoming evident, and new theoretical concepts such as the idea of post-socialist‘heteropolitanization’ (Gentile et al. 2012) are being developed.
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The 'undivided city' has become a major policy aim of today's local urban politicians. Therefore, adequate insight in the relevant dimensions affecting the urban social divide seems to be required, if only to be able to formulate proper policy strategies. However, whereas the literature reveals that various factors are responsible for the rise of divided cities, with perhaps global economic restructuring processes and welfare state differences as the most central elements to the understanding of divisions in cities, local politicians tend to focus on local (area-based) policies. These relevant dimensions, their relative position and the potential of local-based urban policies are the subjects of this special issue. Special attention will be given to the local economic revitalisation and local housing redifferentiation strategies. A simultaneous consideration of relevant dimensions at local, national and global level seems to be required to attain a better understanding of (un)divided cities.
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In current theoretical and policy debates concerning social cohesion, the neighbourhood has re-emerged as an important setting for many of the processes which supposedly shape social identity and life-chances. It is in this context of a renewal of interest in local social relations and particularly the deployment of notions of social capital that this paper offers a critical review of a wide-ranging literature. The paper explores initially and briefly the idea that societies face a new crisis of social cohesion and outlines the key dimensions of societal cohesion. The core of the paper is then devoted to an examination of where the contemporary residential neighbourhood fits into these wider debates, particularly in relation to the interaction between social cohesion and social capital. In this context, some of the key debates around the concept of social capital are outlined. In moving beyond abstraction, the paper also shows how social capital can be broken down into relevant domains for policy action at the neighbourhood level and how concepts such as social cohesion and social capital can be operationalised for research purposes.
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Drawing on the first findings of a European Commission project named RESTATE (Restructuring Large-scale Housing Estates in European Cities), an attempt is made to assess the developments and problems in 31 post-World War II housing estates in Europe. Focus is on issues that are important in large housing estates including physical, economical, demographic and socio-cultural developments, issues related to liveability, and finally issues related to safety. In most areas, a number of positive points are detected. Many people value the design of the estates with large green public spaces positively. Furthermore, the estates provide relatively large, bright and sunny dwellings for a good price. In general, the estates serve an important function for low- and middle-income households. However, negative points are also evident such as physical decay in some dwellings, high unemployment rates, and traffic jams among others.
Estates on the Edge: The Social Consequences of Mass Housing in
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Stadsbuurten en woonkernen in de jaren negentig; hun veranderende betekenis als lokaal woonmilieu
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