One of the arguments for ‘social mix’ urban renewal in low-income neighbourhoods is that the presence of middle-class residents would improve life chances for lower-income groups. However, according to various researchers, middle-class newcomers have little social interaction with the neighbourhood, do not feel at home there and make little use of the neighbourhood’s public spaces and facilities. In short, they show disaffiliation with their mixed neighbourhoods, thus compromising the assumed positive effects of social mixing. Several studies, on the other hand, point to different factors that mediate this (dis)affiliation, such as newcomers’ lifestyles, housing trajectories, the width of class and ethnic differences between newcomers and the existing population and the presence of neighbourhood shops and facilities that can cater to both groups. This relatively large set of factors suggests a need for detailed case-study research to understand neighbourhood affiliation of middle-class newcomers. We made a qualitative and quantitative study of a housing complex designed specifically for middle-class buyers with a ‘diversity-liking lifestyle’, in a poor neighbourhood in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It has not been researched before how using the assumed preferences of diversity-liking middle-class households in dwelling design, for social mix, relates to the eventual residents’ neighbourhood affiliation. The study yields hardly any disaffiliation in the sense of exclusionary spatial strategies: almost all residents use (semi-)public spaces in the neighbourhood on a day-to-day basis. Affiliation in terms of self-identification with the neighbourhood, however, is higher for residents with a diversity-liking lifestyle, and only the minority-ethnic residents use neighbourhood primary schools.
- neighbourhood housing
- social mix