Policy briefing: Improving urban neighbourhoods for all - don’t rely on the middle classes
29 May 2014
This policy briefing presents the policy implications of the work of Professor Gary Bridge from the School for Policy Studies.
The middle classes are attracting increasing interest in urban and public policy. Urban policy has long advocated socially mixed neighbourhoods – as a way of breaking up concentrations of poverty and of bringing middle class skills and ‘voice’ into urban neighbourhoods (thereby improving their prospects). Yet at the same time there are concerns about the middle classes retreating into more exclusive, sometimes gated, communities and becoming segregated from the rest of the city.
Having middle class people living in socially mixed neighbourhoods is considered to be beneficial for policy, both in terms of helping poorer neighbourhoods and reducing neighbourhood segregation. But is this position justified?
Here we report the findings of a large comparative study of middle class residents living in a range of neighbourhood types (from commuter villages, suburbs, gated communities to gentrifying urban neighbourhoods) across Paris and London. The study examined whether the middle classes are good for social mix.