How much goodness do we expect from our neighbours? People living nearby might be locked with each other in interdependencies by spatial proximity but often do not know each other more personally. This chapter explores the question of how latent neighbourliness – an expectation that neighbours will have our back even though we might not know them – emerges. We draw on statistical analyses of survey data from four neighbourhoods in Berlin, Germany, and a pre- and post-COVID-19 methodology, therefore capturing a time when people were asked to stay home and within their neighbourhoods. Our findings demonstrate that latent neighbourliness is neither significantly associated with personal support from neighbours when facing important challenges, nor personal support experienced in the neighbourhood with others whom we know, but who are not neighbours (e.g., family members). Neither is latent neighbourliness a fixed attitude that can be explained by individual characteristics and/or positions (such as age, gender, education, income, one’s employment situation and others). In contrast, we find that, apart from individual generalised trust towards others, the neighbourhood setting itself shapes levels of latent neighbourliness among all demographics. Additionally, those with younger children show higher latent neighbourliness, most likely a result of moral geographies. We argue that caring for children in public and experiencing or displaying moral codes that others can read makes it easier to develop an expectation of goodwill (or for that matter, hostility) from neighbours, without having more durable ties to them.
This research has been funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – project number 290045248 – SFB 1265 as well as by the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) – project number 5518260116.
Blokland, T., Krüger, D., Vief, R., Schultze, H., Regnault, V. and Benz, J. (2022), "Exploring Latent Neighbourliness: Does Turning Locally for Support in Major Challenges Matter and, If Not, Then What May?", Cheshire, L. (Ed.) Neighbours Around the World: An International Look at the People Next Door, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 207-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-83909-476-720221012
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