Gated Communities

Geography Compass 06/2008; 2(4):1189 - 1214. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-8198.2008.00118.x
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ABSTRACT This article examines the notion of gated communities and, more generally, privately governed urban neighbourhoods. We do this by reviewing the idea that they are an innovative built-environment genre that has spread globally from a diverse set of roots and influences. These include the mass growth of private urban government in the USA over the past 30 years; rising income inequalities and fear in big cities; the French condominium law of 1804; and many other locally and culturally specific features of urban history. We contrast the popular notion that gated communities are simply an American export with the idea that they have emerged in various forms for different reasons in different places. We contrast supply-side and demand-side explanations, focusing on the idea that much of their appeal comes from the club-economy dynamics that underpin them. We examine the social and systemic costs – territorial outcomes – of cities made up of residential clubs, considering, in particular, the issue of segregation. We conclude with a reflection on the importance of local variations in the conditions that foster or inhibit the growth of a gated community market in particular countries.

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Available from: Chris Webster, Sep 27, 2015
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    • "From the early debates about gated communities until now scholars and observers have discussed the link between gating and segregation. Gated communities are residential developments (Common Interest Developments, CIDs) organizing the governance and social structure with an interlocking of spatial, legal, social system (Le Goix and Webster, 2008). Morphologically, gated communities are built as enclaves and have physical enclosures, secluding some collective urban space (parks, sidewalks, streets, common grounds, golf courses...) (Blakely and Snyder, 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the social dimensions of gated communities (GCs) in US western metropolitan areas and how they contribute to segregation. We use geographically referenced data of GCs, and introduce a local metric based on social distance indices (SDI). This multivariate spatial analysis investigates homogeneity in three aspects: race and ethnicity, economic class and age between 2000 and 2010 census. The results indicate contrasting effects given different levels of geography. GCs significantly contribute to segregation patterns at a local level, and this has been locally reinforcing. Although socioeconomic segregation and ethnic status yield the most prevalent structure of local distance, gated enclaves are also significantly structured by age. The findings are considered in the context of a metropolitan decline in levels of segregation. Data also show that GCs are likely to be located within large racially homogeneous areas, and do not significantly contribute to racial segregation.
    Urban Studies 01/2014; 52(4). DOI:10.1177/0042098014532555 · 1.28 Impact Factor
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    • "In capitalist cities market, speculation and location rent are preeminent forces structuring the urban space. Thus, the patterns supporting the development of private and gated neighborhoods seem to be mostly characterized by the action of land developers (on the offer side) and a growing desire to control the quality, the safety, security and the tidiness of the residential environment on the demand side (Le Goix, Webster, 2008). In this context, investigating gated communities under the scope of social sustainability requires to consider the broader context of sustainability of communities and social equity. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper aims at demonstrating that gated communities, though often presented as a recent unsustainable trend of security-oriented urbanism, which have spread all over the world in the last two decades, are indeed a classical and generic form in urban sprawl and suburban landscape. In attempting this, we apply a theoretical approach that views the private residential community as a club economy to analyze the planning, managing practices an social interactions at the local level. We balance how private communities might be pro social sustainability tools or in contrast put urban equilibrium (political fragmentation, social interactions) at risk on the suburban edge of sprawling cities. We think that social sustainability issues connect to the genesis of urban edges' morphologies and requires analyzing the underlying forces that structure them. A first section analyses the long term trends in the local emergence of private residential governance, in order to get a better understanding of the diffusion of gated communities and how offer, demand and the local nexus of actors interact. Next, we consider how the local adoption of private urban governance models is structured by the nexus of laws, planning and residential strategies. More specifically, we analyze appropriation strategies of public space by private enclaves residents, and argue that local policies and discourses of intervening actors are often guided by locally driven interests and rent-seeking strategies that might contradict social equity principles. At last, we argue that local path dependency truly explains the success stories of gated communities according to local social and political patterns and local institutional milieus. Considering the nexus of law, but also the practices of development industries and layout of neighborhoods, the findings balance on one hand the strategies of local actors targeting the building of sustainable communities from the owners and entrepreneurs point of view, and on the other hands the equity principles at a more general level. This demonstrates that common goals of private communities is about getting control over nearby environment (control over public space, amenities, etc.) and guarantee property values. Nevertheless, field studies and residents interviews, empirical data describing political behaviors of GCs and social relations of the residents reveal path dependencies in the local manifestations of private communities. Whatever the legal context, local actors, residents strategies, public bodies of governments and entrepreneurs find ways to meet a continuous demand of local control. This can be met either by the means of private urban governance, or by a local body of public government, depending on how local institutional milieus have structured decision making, fiscal regulation and social exclusion patterns. This concurs to demonstrate that private residential areas political behaviors and social interactions are eventually familiar and consistent with more casual patterns in a suburban world.
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