Perceptions of disorder and contested boundaries in immigrant and non-immigrant neighbourhoods

A/Prof Rebecca Wickes1, Professor Jonathan Corcoran2, Dr Kathryn Benier1, Ms Chloe Keel1

1Monash University, , ,

2School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Media and political discourses position particular immigrant groups as responsible for serious and violent offending in the absence of evidence supporting an immigration-crime relationship. How these immigration-crime narratives manifest in neighbourhoods where migrants settle and the extent to which new coming groups are associated with conflict and crime perceptions is unclear. In this paper we integrate land use, census, crime and survey data for 140 urban neighbourhoods in Melbourne, Australia to examine if the concentration of established and emerging migrant groups is linked to residents’ perceptions of neighbourhood ethno-racial conflict. Drawing on the contested boundaries thesis we assess whether these relationships differ in neighbourhoods with clear or fuzzy boundaries to immigrant neighbourhoods. We also consider whether the presence of particular land uses (e.g. social conduits or social holes) and the opportunities (or lack thereof) for quality inter-group contact mediate these relationships.


Rebecca Wickes is the Director of the Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre. She is an Associate Professor and Head of Criminology at the School of Social Sciences (SoSS), Monash University.

Her research focuses on demographic changes in urban communities and their influence on social cohesion and the concentration of social problems. She is the lead investigator of the Australian Community Capacity Study (ACCS), a multi-million, multi-site, longitudinal study of urban neighbourhoods.


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