Freedom from the tyranny of neighbourhood: Rethinking sociospatial context effects

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Theory behind neighbourhood effects suggests that people’s spatial context potentially affects individual outcomes across multiple scales and geographies. We argue that neighbourhood effects research needs to break away from the ‘tyranny’ of neighbourhood and consider alternative ways to measure the wider sociospatial context of people, placing individuals at the centre of the approach. We review theoretical and empirical approaches to place and space from diverse disciplines, and explore the geographical scopes of neighbourhood effects mechanisms. Ultimately, we suggest how microgeographic data can be used to operationalise sociospatial context, where data pragmatism should be supplanted by a theory-driven data exploration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1123
Number of pages21
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Volume44 (2020)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • bespoke neighbourhoods
  • microgeographic data
  • neighbourhood effects
  • sociospatial context
  • spatial scale


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