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What we know about neighbourhood change: a literature review

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This report was jointly commissioned by the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and the Economic and Social Research Council. It contains both full and summary reports of a literature review of neighbourhood change, undertaken with the primary aim of establishing what is known about neighbourhood change in the UK and identifying gaps in that knowledge, in order to inform the future research agenda and, ultimately, the development of policy. The work was carried out in tandem with a parallel review (undertaken by the Social Disadvantage Research Unit at Oxford University) of the challenges and potential involved in using and combining data to address questions at the neighbourhood level. Both reviews were presented at a seminar of the ODPM Urban and Neighbourhood Studies Research Network on 30th March 2004, and will in due course be published via the ODPM website. The review followed the traditional approach used in the social sciences. Books, articles and reports were searched for, initially with a broad focus on the concept of neighbourhood change and developing to explore more specific topics and ideas such as ‘gentrification’ and ‘neighbourhood renewal’ and ‘concentrated poverty’. There was no strict delimitation of space or time, although initial searches concentrated on more recent literature, from the 1990s, partly on the understanding that these would often summarise or refer to other work, and on UK evidence, although sources from other countries in the developed world were investigated where these appeared to provide evidence particularly relevant to the UK context. The review was also informed by the contributions of participants at a workshop on neighbourhood change held at the LSE in January 2004 and by a limited consultation within the academic community. While no small-scale review of this kind can claim to be completely comprehensive, we hope that the report will be a useful summary of the state of knowledge at the current time, and that it will help to point the way for the future development of research in this field.

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