In many cities an increasing number of people do not know their neighbours and there is a lack of a sense of community.
What are the causes of this problem?
How can it be solved?
It is certainly true that the more people nowadays do not have a close relationship with their neighbours and that this has weakened communities in our cities. This is probably due to a combination of our more mobile society and the nature of new building developments and is a problem that will require better planning policies.
One main cause of this change is the trend for people to move home to find work. This mobility means that there is less chance for people to put down roots in a community and establish relationships with their neighbours. If, for example, a person moves city once every five years then it is most unlikely that they will form lasting relationships where they live.
Another important factor is that when people move into a new area they often live in apartment blocks and not houses. This matters because these blocks do not have common social areas where people can meet each other in the same way as is possible in more traditional housing estates. It is possible for people who live in these new high rise buildings never to see each other, still less get to know each other well enough to form a bond.
Any solution to this problem will probably involve local government adopting planning policies that are focused on the community. While it is unlikely that anything can be done about social mobility, it is possible for local authorities to encourage a greater sense of community by ensuring new building developments have social spaces where people can meet each other regularly. These could include green spaces where children can play together, local markets and community halls. My conclusion is that there may be nothing to be done about social mobility but it is possible for local government to foster a greater sense of community by ensuring new developments are more community friendly.