The project focuses on life-course differences in how residents experience, perceive and are satisfied with their residential neighbourhoods. It aims to approach the topic from perspectives of three population groups in various life-course stages and living in distinct neighbourhood types (children from suburbs, young families from housing estates, older adults from the inner city). The life-course approach was selected given the fact that attitudes towards the residential environment differ among life-course phases, especially in the context of housing careers and behaviour, lifestyle choices and preferences changing due to accelerating societal changes. The topic is analysed by examining residents’ functional and emotional ties with various neighbourhood attributes in their residential surroundings. The project focuses on the Prague Metropolitan Area and adopts a qualitative methodology of data collection and analysis (semi-structured interviews). Understanding people’s subjective evaluation of their residential environment is seen as a key element for understanding the evolution of contemporary cities as well as for creating quality plans for their future development.
A neighbourhood serves as a context for the resident’s everyday life (Creswell 2009). Residents experience the neighbourhood through functional and emotional ties they develop towards various neighbourhood attributes. Functional links develop through everyday activities, such as the utilization of neighbourhood amenities (services, parks etc.), interaction with neighbours or behaviour in public spaces (Lewicka 2011). Emotional links include subjective feelings residents associate with neighbourhood attributes, such as a sense of community support (Forrest & Kearns 2001), a sense of belonging (Pinkster 2016), or familiarity with places (Paton 2014). In sum, immediate residential surroundings remain an important feature of quality of life (Hur & Morrow-Jones 2008), despite the growing importance of other places and spaces in an individual’s everyday life (Lewicka 2011). Therefore, understanding how people experience and perceive their physical and social surroundings is essential to understand their neighbourhood and overall residential satisfaction, and how contemporary cities develop (Bonaiuto et al. 1999).
However, people have dissimilar attitudes and demands towards their residential environment. Therefore, the nature of their functional and emotional neighbourhood ties and satisfaction may vary according to individual characteristics such as social status, gender, ethnicity or life course position. In this project, we focus on variations between life-course stages as the current context of accelerating societal, demographic and economic changes has a particular influence on housing careers and behaviour, lifestyle choices and preferences, which in turn influence neighbourhood perception and satisfaction (Ilmonen 2016). At the same time, particular neighbourhood context impacts upon residents’ links with localities. These may be specific in post-socialist cities with fragmented urban development being to a certain extent dissimilar to the Anglophone context (Sýkora & Bouzarovski 2012). This may further reformulate neighbourhood links of residents in certain life-course stages.
The project aims to examine how various residential groups experience, perceive and are satisfied with their neighbourhoods. Specifically, we analyse individuals’ functional and emotional links to residential surroundings in different life-course stages living in different neighbourhoods (see methodology). This allows us to examine the topic from various perspectives leading to a comprehensive knowledge of the complex person-place relation.
Accordingly, we pose one main research question followed by two subquestions:
How do distinct life-course groups living in different neighbourhood types experience and perceive their neighbourhood and how does it influence their residential satisfaction?
The project aims to approach the topic from perspectives of three population groups in various life-course stages and living in distinct neighbourhood types (children from suburbs, young families from housing estates, older adults from the inner city).
30. August-2. September 2021, ENHR Unsettled Settlements: Housing in Unstable Contexts, paper: ‘It is natural’: life course as a key element of long-term residents’ place attachment in a gentrifying Prague neighbourhood (Jan Sýkora, Marie Horňáková)