Using and developing place typologies for policy purposes


Department for Communities and Local Government, London, UK: 2011.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and its predecessor departments have actively promoted the use of such classifications for nearly 30 years, since the development of the Index of Local Conditions (later the Index of Local Deprivation and Index of Multiple Deprivation) in 1981. The department has made active use of these indices in targeting interventions, such as its Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, and in evaluating performance and progress, for example in comparing the performance of New Deal for Communities areas with other areas of similar deprivation. This toolkit is designed to provide an overview of the uses and limitations of the place typologies which underlie neighbourhood performance indicators in the UK.  Although there is considerable enthusiasm for place typologies and widespread use, applying these tools in policy is not straightforward. Different kinds of tools, and
different levels of methodological sophistication, will be appropriate in different circumstances.

Theories of Neighborhood Change: Implications for Community Development Policy and Practice


In order to fully grasp the history of urban community development and its implications for urban planning and policy, it is important to first understand the dynamics of neighborhood change. Why do neighborhoods decline, improve, or remain stable over time? Following the taxonomy of Temkin and Rohe (1996), this paper surveys three major schools of thought with regard to theoretical understanding of how and why neighborhoods change – ecological, subcultural, and political economy – reflecting on their implications for neighborhood development policy.

The Dynamics of Neighbourhood Change and Decline, 1983

Neighborhood policy is invariably based upon some “theory of the problem.” Plainly, if that theory is inaccurate or incomplete, as we think current theories are, it may lead to “solutions” that are unavailing or worse. Currently, public intervention to arrest neighborhood decline assumes that it is premature or unnecessary. However, if as some persons feel, neighborhood decline — like the decline of living organisms is the inevitable consequence of advancing age, it is not a problem that can be prevented or corrected. Similarly, if neighborhood decline involves no more than an inevitable transfer of obsolescing structures to ever-lower income groups, one might view the phenomenon as simply an occurrence having neither positive nor negative connotations. The problem for policy in this situation would have to do, instead, with the distribution of income in society. Finally, to the extent that decline of individual neighborhoods is the consequence of rising living standards and the concomitant rejection of marginal segments of the housing inventory by those who can afford to maintain homes ingood-as-new condition, one can regard decline in a generally positive light. Depending on the situation, therefore, neighborhood policies either could seek to prevent and reverse decline or could focus on techniques that would help neighborhoods adjust downward and prevent the effects of decline from influencing surrounding areas. This essay examines the meaning and causes of neighborhood succession, and the relationships between succession and decline. Its purpose is to cut through the conceptual morass of definitions and assumptions about neighborhood change and in this way to clarify the “theory of the problem.” The essay has six substantive parts.

Investing In Scarborough? Social Infrastructure? CBC Toronto, Metro Morning

Matt Galloway spoke with Deborah Cowen about her new report and the forum at which it would be launched. The report, “Toronto’s inner suburbs: Investing in social infrastructure in Scarborough,” by Deborah Cowen and Vanessa Parlette, was launched June 16, 2011, at Scarborough Civic Centre Council Chambers.  Toronto is a divided city. Social polarization and spatial segregation are clearly visible in the landscape, and our inner suburbs are home to more and more concentrated and racialized poverty. Investment in these suburbs is a key part of the solution, and yet its future is in question. How can we enhance investment in Scarborough when budgets everywhere are being cut? How do we unite across different issues and diverse communities? This forum provides an opportunity for community members to come together to learn from research about the big picture of urban change, and to take action for the future of Scarborough’s communities.  The forum was hosted by the Scarborough Civic Action Network, Social Planning Toronto, and Cities Centre, University of Toronto.

The City-Suburban Cleavage in Canadian Federal Politics

Despite increasing speculation and attention, as of yet insufficient empirical research has been conducted on the possibility of a political cleavage based on differences between Canadian inner cities and suburbs. This article sheds light on the potential existence of such differences by analyzing federal elections at the level of the constituency from 1945 to 1997. Results show that city-suburban differences in federal party voting did not become significant until the 1980s, and increased after this point, with inner-city residents remaining to the left of the rest of Canada in their party preferences while suburbanites shifted increasingly to the right in their voting patterns. The results obtained from regression analysis suggest that such a divergence cannot be reduced solely to differences in social composition, housing tenure, or region, and thus confirm that it constitutes a ‘true’ political cleavage. It is argued that intra-urban geography needs to taken into account in future analyses of Canadian political behaviour.

The urban in fragile, uncertain, neoliberal times: towards new geographies of social justice?

Canadian cities are at a crossroads. The neoliberalization of governance at multiple scales, inadequate re-investment in urban infrastructure, increasing reliance on continental and international trade, and the restructuring of the space economy have combined to weaken Canada’s cities just as the global economic system is undergoing transformation. Canadian urban geographic
scholarship has much to offer under current conditions, and is already making significant contributions in key areas. In particular, research on what might be called the contours and impacts of urban restructuring and the neoliberal city, immigration and cities of difference, and urban environmental justice show much promise and are likely to define the core of Canadian urban geography
into the future.

Inner Suburbs at Stake: Investing in Social Infrastructure in Scarborough

This report finds that some “neighbourhood strategies” are more effective than others. Drawing on a pilot study that contrasts the experiences of the Kingston?Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) priority neighbourhood, with Parkdale, a downtown community that faces similar social and economic challenges but which did not receive Priority Neighbourhood (PN) designation, the report demonstrates that how we diagnose the problems in neighbourhoods matters profoundly in how we respond. This research further suggests that there are different ways of understanding neighbourhoods active within the PN strategy. According to residents and community workers, some ways of making sense of neighbourhoods and making change in neighbourhoods are more effective and responsive than others, and this report explores these strategies and practices in some detail. It includes findings about both effective and ineffective strategies. Effective neighbourhood strategies cultivate social infrastructure. They stem from explanations for concentrated poverty that assign responsibility to government policy and economic change at the local, regional, national, and global scale. They restore investment in human services and facilities in areas that have been overlooked, but they also advocate change at scales much larger than the local in order to respond to social polarization, segregation, and the racialization of poverty. Effective strategies for neighbourhoods are tailor?made for local conditions by local communities. They are accountable and inclusive, provide meaningful skills development that responds directly to identified gaps and needs, and they explicitly address persistent inequalities such as those that are manifest along the lines of race, mental health, class, and gender.

Place-based Public Policy: Towards a New Urban and Community Agenda for Canada

This Research Report explores ideas and options for a new approach to urban and community policy in Canada. The analysis builds on the growing body of research demonstrating how “place matters” to the quality of life for all citizens and to the prosperity of nations. This Research Report calls for a place-based public policy framework. In so doing, it takes a broader view than is often the case in assessing the problems and prospects of cities. An urban perspective concentrates on physical infrastructures and the powers available to municipalities. A community perspective focuses on social infrastructures and the networks for democratic participation. The place-based framework recognizes the importance of both perspectives, and seeks their integration through a mix of public policies responding to the needs of cities of all sizes and locations.

A Brief Review of Neighbourhoods in Canada: Research Note

As the complexity and diversity of the contemporary Canadian city continues to grow, the appropriate level of social and political analysis is shrinking. Especially in Canada’s CMA’s, it is becoming increasingly important to acknowledge not just the city itself, but its component parts. Thus, the neighbourhood is emerging as a salient concept in analysis of the urban form as policy makers, urban planners, and the private sector attempt to uncover the variables that contribute to healthy and vibrant cities and communities. The objective of this research note is to conduct a preliminary review of research on neighbourhoods. The focus of the review is to identify the main thematic areas of research on neighbourhoods in Canada, as well as to examine how the concept of neighbourhood is defined in the literature.


Shared Space: The Communities Agenda

The goal of the communities agenda is to promote resilience – in order to build strong and vibrant communities. Resilience is the result of strategic actions taken in four independent, but associated, clusters. These relate to sustenance, adaptation, engagement and opportunity. The four resilience clusters comprise the substance of the communities agenda. The process of the communities agenda involves work in the shared space within and between resilience clusters. It is the space between citizens and organizations within each cluster. It is the space between clusters. It is the space between communities and government: the common ground in which private troubles meet public issues. The communities agenda is essentially about creating joined-up communities. Working in these areas of shared space is neither simple nor simplistic. Organizing for complexity is the first key step.


Action for Neighbourhood Change: Building a Neighbourhood Renewal Process

This paper was developed by a group of people brought together by the Action for Neighbourhood Change initiative. It presents an understanding of how change occurs in a neighbourhood which is based on previous and current community and neighbourhood revitalization efforts. Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) is a two-year neighbourhood renewal initiative that seeks to improve the quality of life for the residents of neighbourhoods in five Canadian cities – Surrey, Regina, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Halifax. Interventions undertaken since the project began in March 2005 were based on the medical axiom of doing no harm, knowing that in the complex system of a neighbourhood, it is impossible to anticipate all the possible outcomes of actions. Beginning with a clear goal – neighbourhood renewal – provided a wide enough target that virtually any activity or starting point could be shown to help move residents in a positive direction. The short duration of ANC, however, made it necessary to focus on achieving a critical level of support for sustainability. Ultimately, residents must possess the skills, organizational capacity and self-confidence to address challenges for themselves.


Canadian Social Policy in the 2000s: Bringing Place In

This article explores departures in Canadian public policy toward more “place-based” approaches to social development. Focusing on the federal government, it describes a series of recent initiatives designed to enable local actors to participate in policy development processes and take greater control of their own destinies. Using the categories of “municipal empowerment” and “community building” to map new patterns, the article examines innovation and learning across federal and local scales. The article concludes that Canadian governments have now joined a robust and evolving international conversation about leveraging local assets to meet significant national policy challenges, but that more work needs to be done to build high performing, durable multi-level partnerships.


What’s So New About Divided Cities?

A divided city is certainly nothing new, historically. Invidious differentiation may be the most accurate, if not the most monosyllabic, formulation for the real issue. Not inequality per se, but inequality that reflects a hierarchical relationship, one of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion, privilege and deprivation, is the policy concern.  Whether the new outweighs the old depends on the purpose of the question.

Globalizing Cities – Conclusion: A Changed Spatial Order

This concluding chapter of Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? describes the changes in the spatial order of cities. Reflection on the importance of governmental action in determining the extent and nature of changes in the spatial order of cities leads us to the single most important conclusion of our study: that the pattern of development of cities today is subject to control, is not  the result of uncontrollable forces, is not  the result of iron economic laws whose effects states are powerless to influence. On the contrary, in case after case we have found agency to have a major impact on structure: the actions of the state, of nation states, determined by the balance of power between/ among contending forces in the economic and political sphere, is a major determinant of a city’s spatial pattern, heavily influenced though it may be by the contingencies we have mentioned.


Divided cities in the 21st century: challenging the importance of globalisation

In this paper the focus is on the explanation of divided cities. We will make clear that many elements of older theories are still very relevant whendivisions within cities have to be explained. This is  obviously still the case in aworld which is described by a large number of geographers and urban sociologists as increasingly globalising. A main argument could be that in the last three decades or so the process of globalisation has become enormously in?uential in explaining changes within cities, but in this paper we want to modify this notion. Our argument will be that attention for globalisation is useful, but that we should never exaggerate the in?uence of this process in a city as a whole and in parts of that city. In other words: we want to challenge the importance of globalisation when explaining divided cities or urban change in general.

The New Divided City: Changing Patterns in European Cities

Over the last 20 years there has been a vigorous discussion of evidence related to new and more intense social and spatial divisions within European cities. These contributions have identified social and spatial polarisation associated with globalisation, deindustrialisation and the increasing income inequalities arising from these. However, various ‘moderating’ factors were identified to explain why different outcomes were emerging in European cities than in their American counterparts. In this context much of the literature has focused on types of national welfare state and as these arrangements have come under pressure across Europe it may be expected that differences from the USA may decline. However there are other literatures that, rather than emphasizing the importance of national welfare states, refer to the stronger interventionist traditions of European governments and the distinctive characteristics of European cities. Differences in these dimensions within Europe – including those related to urban planning and decommodified housing – do not correlate with typologies of national welfare states and suggest continuing divergence within Europe and between Europe and the USA. Working within this framework, this introduction to a special issue argues that although European welfare states have weakened, other factors continue to sustain differences between European and American cities.

Neighbourhood Trends in Divided Cities: Income Inequality, Social Polarization & Spatial Segregation. An Annotated Bibliography

The focus of this bibliography is on the way in which Western cities (i.e.,generally the OECD countries) are internally divided (or partitioned) on the basis of socio-economic and ethno-cultural status, and the reasons why these divisions exist and the ways in which they are changing. The focus is:

  • the socio-economic and spatial impacts of the gentrification and related neighbourhood change processes
  • the impact of macro level contexts such as globalization and neoliberal policies on urban outcomes and neighbourhoods;
  • changes in the nature, extent and impact of discrimination and segregation oncities and neighbourhoods; and
  • the changing location of wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, and the changing nature and extent of income inequality and income polarization within and among neighbourhoods in a city.

This bibliography is partially annotated with the original summaries (abstracts) as provided by the author or publisher. It was complied as part of the Neighbourhood Change Community University Reseach Alliance. Though large, by searching with keywords, this bibliography should help researchers build upon the existing literature.