Sinks of social exclusion or springboards for social mobility? Analysing the roles of disadvantaged neighbourhoods in urban Australia
For two decades analysts have noted significant and growing socio-spatial polarisation in Australia's cities. Dominating policy discourse has been the hypothesis that residence in "poverty neighbourhoods" can compound individual disadvantage. Prominent here are concerns about social exclusion and spatial entrapment. A contrary perspective is that low income communities often contain substantial social capital and that accessing relatively affordable housing available in such places may provide a basis for subsequent "progression" in the wider urban housing market. Drawing on a household survey in four disadvantaged Sydney neighbourhoods, we confirm that rates of socio-economic deprivation indeed substantially exceed citywide and national norms and that the perceived incidence of neighbourhood problems is substantial. At the same time, results reveal that such places are far from unmitigated spaces of alienation and suggest that they can provide springboards for geographical and social mobility.