|dc.description.abstract||This thesis clarifies the operational definition of liveability as it is used in discussions on the social dimensions of sustainability, as well as provides proof of its practicality as a tool for attaining social sustainability at the neighbourhood level. The definition of liveability is culled through a thorough examination of existing uses and implications of the term in academic and practical literature. Liveability is then defined as, “meeting people's needs according to the quality of environment they want”. Literature on liveability metrics also revealed how these fall short in capturing what neighbourhood residents value about their neighbourhoods. Thus, an alternative approach in the conception and analysis of neighbourhood liveability from a social practice perspective was realised, instead of an economic-technical practice perspective. The aim of this thesis is to find out how residents view their neighbourhood, and in the process, discover what would indicate neighbourhood liveability from their perspective.
This study adopted a qualitative, grounded theory research design. Case studies of neighbourhoods from three countries were done to achieve a grounding of concepts about social structures, and to attain a holistic, interpretive approach to the problem of liveability. Six case studies were chosen to capture varied climatic and cultural contexts that may be influential in determining robust neighbourhood liveability criteria. Two neighbourhoods each were selected for the cities of Gold Coast, Australia -- a subtropical city with an emerging multi-cultural population; Wellington, New Zealand -- a temperate city with a multicultural population; and Quezon City, Philippines -- a tropical city with a relatively homogeneous population. The two neighbourhoods in each city were purposely an old neighbourhood and a new neighbourhood, to uncover differences and congruences in values of neighbourhood within the same city. A total of 129 respondents from these three neighbourhoods were interviewed to find out how they viewed their neighbourhood and what they valued in them. Each neighbourhood's physical layout, system of governance and social makeup was analysed in relation to the respondents' views about their neighbourhood.
A total of 28 dimensions of neighbourhood, which were grouped into 4 themes – Personal, Physical, Social and Political – were uncovered in the analysis of residents’ responses. The respondents' descriptions of their neighbourhood show how neighbourhoods are perceived primarily in social terms, then in physical, personal, and political terms. The descriptions varied across the neighbourhoods, with some dimensions salient only to particular neighbourhoods. These variations demonstrated the contextual nature of neighbourhoods.
Further analysis showed that, overall, the respondents had more to like about the physical aspects of neighbourhood than the non-physical (social and political) aspects. In contrast, the non-physical aspects were highlighted when the respondents talked about what they disliked about their neighbourhood. These observations suggested that there could be a different set of factors that lead to neighbourhood satisfaction, mainly physical, while certain non-physical factors lead to neighbourhood dissatisfaction, such as the perception of crime, and socially incompatible neighbours. These general similarities notwithstanding, the data underlined the varied levels of importance given to certain neighbourhood aspects across the study areas, which strengthened the claim that neighbourhoods should be viewed in their own unique contexts.
The contextual evaluations demonstrated how neighbourhood liveability depends on intervening factors such as the residents’ values or lifestyles, and/or developments in or outside the neighbourhood itself, both of which are subject to change. This realization allows the conclusion that liveability may be conceived as a dynamic zone of fit between people’s residential aspirations and the actual environment they live in.||