Social mix, local services, and social capital in Scotland

Jokio, Johanna (2019) Social mix, local services, and social capital in Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Background:
Social mix has become a prominent policy approach in the UK that aims to diversify the socio-economic composition of neighbourhoods in order to provide a host of economic and social benefits to residents. A central outcome that mixing is expected to achieve is the improvement of local services. The rationales for social mix have arisen from evidence around the negative impacts of spatially concentrated disadvantage on residents’ life chances, which have provided incentives for policy to redevelop low-income, single-tenure areas into mixed communities.
Social mix initiatives in the UK and Scotland have most often been carried out by increasing levels of owner-occupation in areas dominated by social rented housing and low income levels. The arguments for mixing can therefore be argued to largely rely on the expected benefits of middle-class home-owners, where three mechanisms are identified. First, the introduction of middle-class households is expected to increase income flows to help sustain services in the local area (economic capital). The second type of influence refers to cultural capital as the tendency of middle classes to be more assertive in their demands and engage with officials to influence service provision, while service providers may also be more receptive to their issues. Thirdly, the presence of middle-class home-owners is assumed to increase levels of social capital through their involvement in the local community, which may encourage residents to collectively influence the provision of local services.
The New Labour government (1997-2010) placed social mix at the core of their neighbourhood renewal agenda which was designed to tackle the social exclusion of disadvantaged neighbourhoods. New Labour’s efforts to reduce the gap in outcomes between deprived and non-deprived areas is said to have represented a holistic approach, which combined targeted neighbourhood programmes and mainstream public service funding to better address problems. A further key focus became partnerships between local agencies, the public and the third sector. The initiatives placed emphasis on social capital as a means for communities to influence service provision, work in partnerships, and improve their outcomes. Social mixing was expected to increase levels of social capital and thereby encourage participation in community organisations to influence service provision. New Labour further addressed services through a public sector reform and increased funding to public services, which might be expected to narrow the gap between deprived and other areas in terms of service outcomes.
The potential impacts of mixing on lower-income communities have however received criticism. It is questioned whether potential income flows from high-income residents support services that are accessed more by low-income residents, while greater cultural and social influence over services can imply that service provision is shaped towards the needs and preferences of middle-class residents.
Local services provide an interesting research subject in the context of social mix and relating to wider structural imbalances in service provision. This thesis views local services as a key attribute of the neighbourhood opportunity structure and a constituent of social welfare that can influence citizens' quality of life by providing an additional resource that connects citizens to wider society. However, previous evidence has consistently found deprived areas to fare worse in the access to and quality of many public and private services, despite equalisation efforts by means of local government funding. Investigating the New Labour period that saw increasing service expenditure with an emphasis on centralised efforts to promote more equal outcomes allows the thesis to provide insights into the possible impacts of reducing expenditures and devolving responsibility in more recent years.
Research aim and approach:
The thesis undertakes a quantitative study to examine the associations between various types of mixed area and outcomes in local services through the following Research Questions:
1. Are the access to and quality of local services perceived to be better in more mixed areas?
2. Did area differences in service access and quality reduce during the New Labour period?
3. Does area social capital help to explain variations in the perceived access to and quality of local services?
The thesis uses a novel dataset compiled by linking data from the Census and two separate household surveys. Local service outcomes are derived from the Scottish Household Survey (SHS) (1999-2002 & 2009-2011) which provides two large cross-sectional samples of the Scottish population. The data provides three outcome measures: Frequency of Use, Convenience, and Satisfaction with Services. Altogether eight summary indicators are constructed for different groups of services. Consistent outcome indicators are compared at two time periods corresponding to the early and late years of the New Labour government. Analysis of the service outcomes is carried out through multilevel modelling, taking into account the nesting of responses in small areas.
To measure neighbourhood social mix, the thesis constructs a neighbourhood typology through cluster analysis of household tenure from Scotland's Census (2001 and 2011). The neighbourhood clusters are defined at two area levels: data zones and intermediate zones, which are subsequently attached to the survey datasets.
Finally, the study constructs small-area estimates of social capital using data from multiple waves of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health and Wellbeing Survey. The estimates are attached to the SHS dataset in order to address RQ3.
Findings:
The study finds positive associations between most types of mixed area and residents’ perceptions of the access to and quality of local services. The area type consisting of nearly even proportions of owner-occupation and private rent, along with some social rent, contributes to positive variation in a majority of the outcome indicators. Most associations with area types hold at data zone and intermediate zone levels, while the latter analysis yields fewer significant associations. The results from cross-sectional data are however interpreted with caution, as they may be subject to potential selection effects.
The analysis further concludes that areas with the lowest levels of deprivation are more likely to have positive outcomes in services. However, the results question the effectiveness of economic demand from higher-income households in supporting services in local areas, as variations in the patterns of service use for different income levels are discovered. In turn, more deprived areas are consistently associated with lower levels of access to and quality of services, implying that differences persisted despite targeted efforts of the time to improve services in these areas.
Comparing results at two time periods shows slightly weaker associations between tenure mix and the service outcomes in the later period, possibly implying that area differences narrowed. However, deprivation remains a strong negative predictor of multiple service outcomes. Finally, the analysis concludes that social capital contributes to minor positive variations in local service outcomes, while social capital does not diminish relationships with individual and area-level predictors which remain stronger explanatory factors.
The thesis lends some support to the policy practice of implementing tenure mix, as mixed areas tend to be associated with better outcomes for services. However, the findings in regard to area and individual income levels imply that policy should exercise caution in the application of tenure mix as a tool to address structural imbalances in service provision and undertake realistic assessments of the needs of different resident groups from local services. Further, the results do not lend great support to the emphasis on social capital as a tool to address local areas’ service provision.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: social mix, local services, social capital, neighbourhoods, housing, small area analysis.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Supervisor's Name: Bailey, Prof. Nick and Kearns, Prof. Ade
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Dr Johanna Jokio
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-78994
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2020 17:09
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 22:00
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.78994
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/78994

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