Private community? : the lived experiences of privatism and community in the development and management of a private residential estate in Sydney, Australia

by Therese E. Kenna

Institution: University of Western Sydney
Degree: PhD
Year: 0
Keywords: urban sociology; real estate development; suburban homes; city planning; New South Wales; Sydney
Record ID: 1033212
Full text PDF: http://handle.uws.edu.au:8081/1959.7/43635


Private residential estates are becoming a mainstream product in urban residential development in Australia. While this urban residential form has attracted attention because of its possible contribution to processes of segregation in metropolitan regions, there has been little empirical research that has examined social life and community formation within these neighbourhoods. Thus, one of the main aims of this thesis is to understand the nature of social life, interactions and community formation within a private residential estate in Sydney, Australia – Macquarie Links. Of particular interest is the ways in which community is understood by the residents and how this community is managed and negotiated given the private governance structure of the neighbourhood. In this thesis I develop an understanding of the role of the private structure in the formation, negotiation and management of community. With the promise of privatism and community being actively marketed and sold to residents of private residential estates by developers and real estate agents, they appear at once both contradictory and dependent. This thesis argues that community formation relies on the private structure of the neighbourhood with the two being intertwined and co-dependent, rather than contradictory or mutually exclusive as is usually viewed in the urban studies literature. The thesis argues that the formation of community in Macquarie Links relies on the identification of commonalities and complexities, consent and disagreement, private and community, which in turn allows for a consideration of the ways in which community and privatism are intertwined and sustain each other. Common bonds and disagreements have continually sustained the community of Macquarie Links such as that between owners and renters, adults and young people, the community and the individual. These disagreements, differences and ‘dramas’ within the estate are frequently managed by the community association (through the private structure), which in turn sustains community. For the residents of Macquarie Links, the structure of the neighbourhood and community relations, with private governance and neighbourhood committees, allowed for a more encompassing protection of the residential environment, or indeed, control. Physical security and gating is thus not the most significant element of private gated residential estates. Control, through restrictive covenants and community management offers order and stability in the residential neighbourhood. The structure of the community is important for controlling the quality of the neighbourhood. Restrictive covenants and community-led management of the estate are very communal tactics for maintaining the private structure and privatism within Macquarie Links. The thesis challenges the assumptions that privatism and community are the anti-thesis to each other. Further, neoliberal, private and individual ‘subjects’ are often coupled together and considered to be one in the same. However, being ‘private’ in Macquarie Links also…