Administrative Mediation Data As a Naturally Occurring Record of Disputes with Neighbours and the Un-Making of Home

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:15
Oral Presentation
Lynda CHESHIRE, The University of Queensland, Australia
The dwelling as home is a place imbued with specific meanings for its inhabitants where particular kinds of social relationships and activities take place. In recent decades, researchers have pointed to a growing emphasis on the security, privacy and protection of the home from unwanted intrusions, yet the home remains connected to, and implicated in, a broader network of social and spatial relations that influence how it is experienced and the meanings attached to it. Once such influence is the relationships and interactions that take place among those whose homes are physically proximate – i.e. neighbours. Where good relations between neighbours are associated with a range of positive individual and collective outcomes, far less is known on how poor relations with neighbours might undermine people’s sense of home. This paper begins to address this omission. Conceptually, it argues that problematic relations with neighbours can lead to a form of ‘home-unmaking’ whereby the ‘material and/or imaginary components of home are … divested, damaged or even destroyed’ (Baxter and Brickell, 2014). Empirically, it shows that accounts of neighbour disputes give special insight into the forms of home–unmaking that occur when problematic neighbourly interactions undermine the privacy, security, freedom and opportunity for self-expression that the home usually affords. Methodologically, it shows how such accounts can be accessed in their naturally-occurring form via qualitative administrative records collected by agencies such as dispute resolution centres. Drawing on 3,334 cases of neighbour disputes in Queensland, Australia from 1999-2014 provided by Queensland’s Dispute Resolution Centres, the paper illustrates the opportunities afforded by administrative records as naturally-occurring sources of data on everyday experiences of home and its un-making, as well as the challenges that arise from using datasets that were never intended for research purposes.