A common argument is that ‘social mix’—or a high ratio of homeowners and private
renters to social housing tenants within the same neighbourhood—reduces disadvantage
by eroding homogeneous ‘bonded’ social networks amongst the latter.
However, associations between network homogeneity and support in social housing
have not been analysed using national survey data. This article examines age, ethnic
and educational homogeneity/heterogeneity and informal support using the 2006
Australian General Social Survey. Counter to expectations, social housing tenants
have more heterogeneous friendship groups by all measures, regardless of respondents’
age, ethnicity or education. In addition, friendship heterogeneity is associated
with more informal support in social housing, but less support in private housing.
This raises concerns over the efficacy of ‘socially mixing’ already heterogeneous
social housing communities and suggests that resistance to social mix is likely to
stem from the attitudes of homeowners and private renters towards social tenants
rather than the reverse.