A Book about Why Neighborliness Matters

by Susan Herst

What happens if people stop recognising and talking to their neighbors? Why do nods across the street and comments about the weather matter? Ideas and evidence in this book suggest that if people stop being civil to one another where they live, a perceived crisis of respect in wider society will probably follow. Neighborliness starts right outside the front door – with people we don’t know well, as much as with people we do, in cul-de-sacs, terraced streets and housing estates. Respect is what we gain from nurturing and practising neighborliness, not something that can be imposed by government command. Respect in the Neighborhood seeks to attract the attention of policy makers at all levels and provide a rallying call for neighborhood activists and practitioners, on issues of community safety, families, young people, intergenerational projects, anti-social behaviour, regeneration, planning, housing, community development, criminal justice and neighbourhood governance. It takes a wide view, from looking at young people’s behaviour, through older people’s anti-social use of cars, to the generation of disrespect by rampant individualistic consumption; and it ranges from a case study in a cul-de-sac to reviews of policy and experience in the UK, Netherlands and Flanders. It helps us to consider what we can learn by: · seeking to understand people’s fear of retaliation and their reluctance to intervene · changing street design and layouts · the potentials and pitfalls of incentives and rewards for good neighbouring · recognising the powerful impact of racism and other forms of exclusion. It concludes that the core challenge is to develop new skills that allow us to exercise informal control without reinstating hierarchy, learning to challenge behaviour within a shared understanding, while recognising the legitimate interests of others, regardless of what we have in common with them.



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