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Original research published in the ‘BMJ Open’: Freedom, choice, dignity – what is the role of place?


A neighborhood with strong trust and networks can empower individuals within the community to support each other and be beneficial to their well-being.On the other hand, neighborhoods that lack social cohesion are associated with stress, depression, and anxiety. Maintaining well-being can be important for those living in difficult circumstances, particularly those living in informal settlements.

Within Delhi – a rapidly growing mega-city in India – some people live in unauthorized squatter settlements with minimum access to civic services and amenities, others have been relocated or ‘evicted’ from their original squatter settlements to resettlement colonies.

New research shows that residents who chose their settlement type were 22.5 percentage points more likely to have a feeling of belonging to their neighborhood compared to residents that had been resettled. There is also an increased likelihood to perceive freedom of choice and be more satisfied with life.

Dr. Steve Humble says, “Our research shows that being free to choose your urban space is of great importance. The communities at the center of this project reside in areas that provide different space and place that impacts human flourishing and prosperity.”

As part of the Rising Tide funded project Identifying Best Practice for Empowerment Through Entrepreneurial Freedom, original research was published on the Associations between neighborhood social cohesion and subjective well-being in two different informal settlement types in Delhi, India.

Researchers, Dr. Steve Humble, Dr. Aditye Sharma, Baladevan Rangaraju, Professor Pauline Dixon, and Professor Mark Pennington evaluated the relationships between neighborhood cohesion and subjective well-being in two different settlement types – an unplanned squatter settlement and a planned resettlement colony. Their research found that residents in resettlement colonies have expressed concerns around community cohesion and reported greater social alienation.

According to Professor Pauline Dixon, “Our project is unique bringing together the tools, empirical data gathering, people, voices, expertise, and knowledge to answer the overarching question around freedom, choice, dignity and the role of place for development. Gathering data from the communities themselves, using their voices, seeing and feeling how they go about their daily lives, provides a rich understanding of what works for bottom-up development and why place matters”.

The Rising Tide funded project will promote best practice from the communities that stimulate sustainable lives overcoming barriers to employment and entrepreneurial activity.

Read the full research article here or find out more about the project by visiting their website here.



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