• Personal networks;
  • neighbour relationships;
  • change;
  • panel data analysis;
  • the Netherlands


In the current sociological and geographical literature, contrasting views exist on the role of the neighbourhood and neighbourhood relationships in the life of its residents in current societies. Some scholars believe that in our globalising world, local communities and the neighbourhood in general lost their significance, while others argue that the role of community and neighbourhood contacts is still important. These divergent opinions are mainly due to the absence of comparative empirical studies, which require longitudinal data on neighbourhood contacts. Based on unique and rich panel data on the role of neighbours in the personal networks of inhabitants of 161 Dutch neighbourhoods, we analyse whether neighbourhood contacts and their implications have changed over a 10 year period. We find that neighbourhood relationships have become more important in informal personal networks. This implies paying a visit and helping each other out with odd jobs, but at the same time contact frequency and trust declined in neighbour relationships. For elderly, highly educated residents, home-owners, non-movers and people with initially small local networks, the size of neighbour networks increased substantially, suggesting that at least for these groups, the ‘community saved’ perspective holds.