New York: Most neighbourhood conflicts occur in the areas sandwiched between two homogenous communities where the boundaries between different ethnic and racial groups are not clearly defined, a new study finds.
The New York University (NYU) study used data from 311 complaints to track when and where New Yorkers complain about their neighbours making noise, blocking driveways, or drinking in public.
"Neighbourhood conflict arises not from mere separation or mixing of diverse populations, but as a result of these 'fuzzy' boundaries between homogenous neighbourhoods," said Joscha Legewie, an assistant professor of education and sociology at NYU.
"These area may be particularly prone to conflict because they may threaten surrounding homogenous community life and foster ambiguities about group turf," Legewie added.
The current findings move away from the idea that diversity has negative consequences.
"It's not diversity in general that has this effect on neighbourhood conflict; it is only these particular areas between homogenous communities," Legewie stressed.
To define neighbourhood boundaries, the researchers adopted edge-detection algorithms used in science and engineering, including computer vision and image processing.
"The 311 service requests give us a unique perspective on everyday forms of conflict, and indicate that tensions are not being resolved in a neighbourly way, such as knocking on someone's door," Legewie explained.
Less conflict was found in areas without boundaries (those surrounded by neighbourhoods of similar ethnic and racial composition) and areas where boundaries between homogenous communities are clearly defined.
Legewie was scheduled to present his research at the 110th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago.