Do we love our neighbours? According to research, the answer appears to be ‘yes’ for some and ‘what neighbours?’ for others.
South Africans are proud of our rainbow nation, all its colours and the ability to pull together when we want to. We’ve always prided ourselves that we’re good people who genuinely care about one another, that we have a strong sense of community and developing community.
But from a recent survey it appears that the sense of community can vary quite dramatically depending where you live.
The ROOTS survey launched in 2013 by Caxton/CTP and conducted by TNS measured South Africa’s urban landscape and unpacked a lot of intel about South Africa’s suburbs and towns. Developed to understand the purchasing decision maker (PDM) in the household, ROOTS gathered information such as demographics and shopping behaviour to compare one suburb to the next.
While the interviewers were out, questions were asked about social interaction with neighbours and their willingness to interact with each other as well as other interesting activities. The results make for an interesting analysis.
For example, across SA’s urban landscape, 38% of all heads of household had socially interacted with or made a point to get to know their neighbours. That’s the urban average but of course the devil is in the detail. What ‘hoods or towns are loving thy neighbour the most? Well, the top 10 neighbourly suburbs are a mix of the Western Cape spots, Soweto, a town called Ermelo and a suburb in Pretoria.
The top two on the list reside in the Garden Route where the residents of Riversdale/ Albertina and Oudtshoorn feature with 86% and 84% in making the effort to lean over the fence and get to know their neighbours.
Mitchells Plein (CT), Zola (Soweto), Retreat (CT), Elderado Park, Ermelo, Athlone (CT), Pimville (Soweto) and Pretoria Moot are all areas where you can gather together a neighbourly network of friends in the ‘hood. These suburbs are over double the incidence of the national average.
So you’re asking who heads up the other end of the scale of ‘non’ neighbourly ‘hoods?
You guessed it: Gauteng suburbs take the lead in the top five places. Top of the list is Bedfordview/Edenvale where only 4% of heads of household have socially interacted or made a point to get to know their neighbours. Is it Radovan Krejcir, the scars of Lolly Jackson or the spree of hits from last year that have made this hood so unwilling to share a beer through the fence? Or is it the electric fence stopping some neighbourly banter? Heidelberg/Nigel (6%), Germiston (7%), Alberton 9% and Boksburg (13.5%) take up the remaining four posts respectively as ‘unfriendly’ ‘burbs.
What is going on here? Well, the fence factor may have something to do with things. On average 38% of SA’s urban towns and suburbs subscribe to a home security service. In Bedfordview/Edenvale that percentage is 96.8%. In contrast, in Zola (a friendly suburb in Soweto), only 0.8% of homes opt in for a similar service. In fact there is a strong correlation between home security services and avoiding the friendly neighbour. The more ‘secure’ you are, the less you need a neighbour! Across all the high incidence areas on either side of the scale this pattern holds: the more neighbourly, the less need for home security and vice versa.
I wanted to see if there were other connections.
Funny enough, most areas (neighbourly or not) were interested in reading about their local community. But there was a correlation between regularly attending religious gatherings and being more neighbourly. Only a third of heads of households confirmed that they regularly went to church or mosque etc.). These suburbs tended to be the same ones that were more neighbourly and interactive.
On the other hand, our non neighbourly areas were not strong church or mosque goers.
The moral of the story? If your home security service fees are bogging you down and crime is stressing you out, move to the friendly neighbourhood where church attendance is high!
John Bowles is joint managing director of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau (NAB)
Image: Wikipedia Creative Commons
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