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Title: Local perceptions of insecurity and reassurance strategies : a socio-spatial perspective
Author: Barker, Anna
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 8709
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis develops an understanding of the social factors and spatial dynamics informing public perceptions of (in)security and how diverse social groups interpret endeavours by public authorities to provide reassurance and manage crime and disorder in two areas of Leeds. It incorporates insights from urban geography, geo-spatial analysis and contemporary social theory, combining social research methods to capture the nuanced and lived experiences informing perceptions of (in)security in public space. The empirical findings are based on 22 focus group interviews with 121 residents of various ethnic and age groupings, leading to the development of local perceptual maps, and ten one-to-one interviews with long-standing residents. These data are embedded within detailed area profiles, including insights from interviews with 16 professionals involved in the delivery of reassurance. The findings suggest that perceptions of insecurity are not constant, universal or widespread but have particular temporal, social and spatial dimensions, principally influenced by a lack of mutual trust, social tensions and negative area reputations. The thesis highlights the contested nature of neighbourhood safety, whereby processes of diversity, social identity and 'ownership' shape perceptions of social interactions in particular locations as unpredictable and potentially volatile (e.g. parks and housing estates). The physical character and appearance of public spaces emerge as secondary factors in residents' assessments of their personal safety. The findings indicate the importance of social processes informing insecurity and, especially, the issue of social trust, for professionals involved in the delivery of reassurance. The thesis raises concerns about the widespread assumptions underpinning certain visible public reassurance strategies; specifically, their paradoxical capacity to offer reassurance and simultaneously undermine a community's collective sense of well-being, whilst potentially engendering neighbourhood stigma. It therefore identifies challenges for formal agencies seeking to reassure diverse publics. More generally, it maps the contours and implications of a socio-spatial perspective for the study of crime and insecurity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available