Examine the Argument That “Good Fences Make Good Neighbours”.

Topics: Privacy, Erving Goffman, Neighbourhood Pages: 3 (1035 words) Published: May 27, 2013
Examine the argument that “good fences make good neighbours”.

When using the term “Street”, or “Neighbourhood” in context of where we live, it is usually referencing more than just a geographical location, but rather a collective of all the elements that go into making it what it is, especially the people. A good neighbour is someone who understands the socially constructed rules of behaviour that goes with the title, and this essay will be looking at how boundaries, or “fences”, that these mostly unwritten rules are based upon, and also, how they are broken and repaired. The argument in the title highlights the fact that no matter how close you are to a neighbour, both physically and personally, there is always a need for privacy. As mentioned by Jovan Byford, (Byford, 2009, p.251) there is a paradox in the fact that neighbours are expected to be a community of people living together but at the same time everyone wants -and expects- their own space. The rules of engagement for a neighbour are an intrinsic characteristic built into us from our own experiences, and we act on them almost automatically. Byford illustrates this in his transcript of a conversation he had himself with a neighbour and his use of discursive pschology(Byford, 2009, pg. 257). It is a simple exchange of words in which both parties follow the unwritten rules of being a neighbour when an event, in this case, a mis-directed package, bring the two together. The conversation is immediately recognisable to any who have been in a similar situation, the neighbour apologises for being intrusive, and in doing so recognises the author’s personal space, and neither send out an invitation for the other to make the exchange any more than it is. Both parties are recognising the boundary, or “fence” that is in place to prevent an invasion of privacy. The exchange is not premeditated to go ahead like this, it is just a skill that has been learnt through experience. In her work, Social psychologist...
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