chapter  3
23 Pages

LOCAL IDENTITY: NEIGHBOURS AND NEIGHBOURHOODS

The terms ‘neighbours’ and ‘neighbourhood’ are used frequently in any discussion of the modern city. The city is often viewed as composed of a series of local communities, each with its own identity, which are centred upon a particular neighbourhood. In this conception of the city, each neighbourhood is spatially de ned and perceived as a separate entity. However, the term ‘neighbourhood’, like ‘community’, is notorious for the variety of meanings attached to it (Bulmer 1986: 17). Some de nition of the terminology used in this chapter is necessary. Neighbours are simply de ned as those people who live in close proximity to one another. In contrast, a neighbourhood is ‘an effectively de ned terrain or locality inhabited by neighbours’ (Bulmer 1986: 21). This suggests that ‘the word neighbourhood has two general connotations: physical proximity to a given object of attention, and intimacy of association among people living in close proximity to one another’ (Hawley 1968: 73 quoted in Bulmer 1986: 19). Bert Lott (2004: 18-24) has examined the possibility of the vici in Rome corresponding to the North American concept of ‘defended neighbourhoods’, which he in the end rejects in favour of a meaning of neighbourhood being construed as a ‘contrived community’ with limited actual cohesion (Lott 2004: 23). The problem of de nition defeats the usefulness of either of these terms. The very dif culty of competing notions of neighbourhood, de ned not just institutionally via the local government and worship at crossroad shrines in the vici, needs to include the division of space and access to key services. These ideas of neighbourhoods and neighbours are examined in this chapter to investigate the possibilities of identifying spatial divisions across the city.