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Neighbourhood in an Increasingly Mobile Society
This new project by Yip Ngai-ming and Ray Forrest considers the impact of neighbourhoods in an increasingly mobile world. The neighbourhood is an important arena in which people define their identity and create social networks. It is also the scale at which many governmental policies aimed at targeting social problems are implemented. Yet, as people become more mobile, interactions among neighbours decrease. We are left with the question of what significance the neighbourhood retains for its residents.

There is, however, ample evidence that patterns of mobility are highly varied among people from different backgrounds, and that these differences may be widening. Thus, it is possible that the neighbourhood will continue to play an important role in the future, but that it will not be experience in the same way by all social groups.

In order to track people’s mobility and activity patterns, the project will employ a phone app that has been newly developed by the research team. The data will be combined with information on the residents generated through surveys, and other data about the neighbourhoods’ characteristics. Overall, the research will cover 1250 residents in 25 Hong Kong neighbourhoods.

With its popular and efficient public transport system, and a large but relatively mixed public housing sector, Hong Kong provides an interesting research site. What is more, the research will allow to compare its findings with the ones produced by similar studies carried out in the US context. It will also offer valuable inputs to social mix and neighbourhood-based social policy, as well as inform and extend theoretical debates on neighbourhoods within the new mobilities perspective.

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