Assessing the Social Bonds of Elderly Neighbors: The Roles of Length of Residence, Crime Victimization, and Perceived Disorder

Hunter College-CUNY, USA
Sociological Inquiry (Impact Factor: 0.79). 10/2003; 73(4):490 - 510. DOI: 10.1111/1475-682X.00068

ABSTRACT Starting from the rationale that elderly urban residents tend to be “neighborhood-bound,” this study examines the relationship between age or aging and local social bonds (friendship, social cohesion and trust, informal social control, and participation in local organizations). Specifically, is the level of local bonding among elderly urban residents (age 65 and over) greater than that of the younger cohorts (17–35, 34–49, and 50–64)? Additionally, two specific hypotheses are constructed to examine the determinants of local social bonds among elderly urban residents: the systemic approach, regarding length of residence; and the social-disorganization approach, regarding crime victimization and perceived disorder. Using Chicago data collected in 1995, the analysis found a substantial difference between the elderly cohort and each of the younger cohorts in only the friendship category of local social bonds. The other results show that in a sample of elderly urban residents, length of residence is the only significant, positive factor in local friendship, and that the two disorder predictors, physical and social, play a substantial role in weakening two types of local social bonds, social cohesion and trust and informal social control.

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    ABSTRACT: Green spaces in the living environment may provide a meeting place and support social contacts. When people get older they, in general, are less mobile and have more limited activity spaces. At the same time they are faced with smaller social networks due to social and health related changes. Green spaces in their direct living environment are therefore important to support their needs. The aim of this study was to better understand the nature of the relationship between various types of green spaces in the direct living environment and the extent and nature of social contacts of the aging generation, taking into account socio-demographics and other physical and social environmental characteristics. Data for this study were obtained from a survey about living surroundings from a national representative sample of 1501 persons in the age category of 60 years and over in the Netherlands conducted in 2009. The survey included both subjective and objective measurements of the direct living environment of the respondents. Specifically, a Bayesian belief network was used to formulate and estimate the direct and indirect relationships between the selected variables. Results show that social contacts among neighbors are mainly influenced by the availability of trees and grass and the perceived level of green. Green spaces support social contacts in the neighborhood. However, the safety and maintenance of the green spaces are also important; high quality green spaces support social contacts between neighbors and strengthen communities for the aging population.
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Nov 16, 2014