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Historical and cultural studies of residential enclaves reveal the range of patterns within a phenomenon that some have treated essentially as the result of contemporary neoliberal conditions. Gated and enclosed communities are by no means new, nor are they the product of universal principles or circumstances. Among other things, they reflect historical conditions, contemporary concerns, cultural ambitions and inter-group dynamics. Based largely on comparisons of national inventories of gated communities in Israel and Canada, this article explores some of the articulations and functions of enclosure. It illuminates the contrasts within a set of historic and contemporary enclosed and segregated settlements, and seeks to develop a framework to account for the range of patterns found and some of the motivations behind them. While many enclaves in Israel feature extensive security measures that include armed guards, Canadian gated communities typically use weak devices such as low fences. The patterns employed to mark difference reinforce divergent social conditions and generate varying spatial consequences. The comparison reveals variations in who produces enclosure, how, and for what purposes.
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Reproducing Difference: Gated
Communities in Canada and Israel
GILLAD ROSEN and JILL GRANT
Abstractijur_981 778..793
Historical and cultural studies of residential enclaves reveal the range of patterns within
a phenomenon that some have treated essentially as the result of contemporary
neoliberal conditions. Gated and enclosed communities are by no means new, nor are
they the product of universal principles or circumstances. Among other things, they
reflect historical conditions, contemporary concerns, cultural ambitions and inter-group
dynamics. Based largely on comparisons of national inventories of gated communities in
Israel and Canada, this article explores some of the articulations and functions of
enclosure. It illuminates the contrasts within a set of historic and contemporary enclosed
and segregated settlements, and seeks to develop a framework to account for the range
of patterns found and some of the motivations behind them. While many enclaves in
Israel feature extensive security measures that include armed guards, Canadian gated
communities typically use weak devices such as low fences. The patterns employed to
mark difference reinforce divergent social conditions and generate varying spatial
consequences. The comparison reveals variations in who produces enclosure, how, and
for what purposes.
Gates in comparative context
Countries around the world have reported the development of gated residential
communities over the last several decades. While some authors see gating as a product
of postmodernist globalization (e.g. Marcuse, 1997), recent studies increasingly suggest
that gated communities are not a unitary phenomenon but rather varying local and
regional expressions of a global trend to spatial segregation and social separation
between groups (see, e.g., Crot, 2006; Landman, 2006; Stoyanov and Frantz, 2006).
Gated communities — that is, residential districts enclosed by walls and gates that limit
vehicular and/or pedestrian access — are the most exclusionary of a class of residential
enclaves that separate communities of difference in contemporary environments (Davis,
1992; Flusty, 1997).
Do gates signify the same thing in different social and political contexts? As Blakely
and Snyder (1997: 1) argue, the meaning of the built environment is not fixed: ‘The
setting of boundaries is always a political act. Boundaries determine membership:
someone must be inside and someone outside. Boundaries also create and delineate
space to facilitate the activities and purposes of political, economic and social life’.
Social groups and nations employ boundaries such as those constructed by walls, gates
and signage to enable and mark separation in cultural contexts of increasing social
The authors are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Halbert
Center for Canadian Studies and the Israel Association for Canadian Studies for funding support.
Thanks to K. Maxwell, B. Laven and K. Perrott for assistance with field work.
Volume 35.4 July 2011 778–93 International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
DOI:10.1111/j.1468-2427.2010.00981.x
© 2010 The Authors. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research © 2010 Joint Editors and Blackwell
Publishing Ltd. Published by Blackwell Publishing. 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St,
Malden, MA 02148, USA
diversity. Based on Foucault (1977), Grant and Mittelsteadt (2004: 919) note that ‘gates
reflect the exercise of power and discipline over space’.
Several detailed studies of gated developments illustrate the way in which occupants,
developers, planners and the media work socially to construct the meanings of gates
(Caldeira, 2000; Low, 2003). Landman (2006) argues that South African enclosures are
embedded in a context of race and power relations transacted over many decades.
Stoyanov and Frantz (2006: 60) note that although the language describing gating seems
similar in Bulgaria and in the United States, ‘the same words in a different social and
cultural context did not convey the same meaning’. An examination of gating and related
forms of social exclusion in local context can illustrate how different groups produce,
organize, reproduce, consume and interpret space. Knowledge of diversity as well as
similarities in gating practices may facilitate the development of theory about an
increasingly common expression of residential development form.
In some countries fortification and enclosure has deep historical roots. For countries
that experienced gating in earlier phases of their history the meaning of the walls and
gates may reinforce past memories, values, cultural hierarchies and ideologies as well as
changing local social contexts. Nations such as Russia (Lentz, 2006), China (Wu and
Webber, 2004) and England (Blandy, 2006) have a historical legacy of enclosed
communities that is often linked to imperial traditions or feudal social structures. Their
remaining walls have become mythologized symbols of a glorious past, used to fuel
tourism. Some nation-states have experienced considerable political and social upheavals
within which enclosed and separated communities have become highly entrenched and
contentious, as is evidenced in South Africa (Jurgens and Gnad, 2002; Landman, 2006)
and Israel (Rosen and Razin, 2008).
Aside from a few historic private enclaves constructed for elites in major urban
centres, in many countries gating appeared anew in the late twentieth century. For
instance, in Argentina (Roitman, 2005; Thuillier, 2005), Portugal (Raposo, 2006),
Australia (Hillier and McManus, 1994), the United States (Blakely and Snyder, 1997;
Low, 2001), and Canada (Grant et al., 2004) relatively few gated residential projects
were built before the 1980s. In the Americas and Australia, some early colonial
settlements until the mid-eighteenth century had simple fortifications; the communities
experienced a short-lived history of enclosure because colonial powers quickly
suppressed indigenous resistance and implemented new regimes of land
commodification. Open residential districts prevailed in most industrial nations
throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
As scholars document case studies of gated projects around the world, they identify
commonalities and differences in ways that contribute to theory building. In their
introduction to a special issue of GeoJournal on gated communities, Brunn and Frantz
(2006: 3) suggested several directions for further research: ‘we need to identify the
origins, functions, and morphology of gated communities and cities in countries where
we have few thus far;...weneed additional studies on the forms and functions these
gated communities are taking’. Grant and Mittelsteadt (2004: 927) offered a similar
argument: ‘Developing comprehensive theory to both explain and describe the
phenomenon requires considerably more case-study information and internationally
comparative work’. This article seeks to contribute empirical and theoretical insights by
examining the functions and production of enclosure in contrasting situations — Canada
and Israel. The comparison did not originate through a positivist effort to identify
appropriate paired cases to test theory. Rather, it emerged as researchers who were
investigating gating in the two countries contrasted their findings and interpretations, and
determined that a systematic comparison of the forms and functions of enclosure might
generate fruitful insights.
A comparison of divergent cases can illuminate patterns in the range of phenomena
grouped under the ‘gated community’ rubric. Such comparisons help articulate the
cultural values and conditions that set the context within which gated communities
appear as a residential-development option. Why compare Canada and Israel? Both
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Canada and Israel are advanced capitalist countries in the northern hemisphere
experiencing increasing diversity through immigration; both have large cultural
minorities. They share a history of territorial conflict resulting in displacement of earlier
inhabitants. Recent national inventories of enclaves and interview data provide sufficient
empirical evidence to compare the articulations and functions of enclosure in the two
countries. The inventories reveal that both Canada and Israel have relatively few
documented new market-generated gated communities compared to the United States.
Canada and Israel differ significantly in size, social structure and political history.
Canadian governments regulate development practices but do not produce enclosed
communities directly. By contrast, the Israeli state takes an interventionist role in
controlling territory and assisting in its fortification. Thus the circumstances that lead to
gating and enclosure of settlements and the forms and functions of the communities
created may be expected to vary in significant ways between Canada and Israel. A
comparison will help to isolate varying socio-spatial strategies for reproducing and
managing difference.
This article draws on separate national gated community inventory projects that
occurred between 2002 and 2008.1The studies involved mixed methods: visual
assessment of developments, document analysis and extensive interviews with planners,
developers, municipal leaders and residents. The research reported in this article applies
elements of the Grant and Mittelsteadt (2004) checklist of features defining gated
communities as a framework for evaluating the forms and functions of enclosures,
security features and amenities in Canadian and Israeli enclaves. The physical
articulations of enclosure reveal contrasts in how gating is produced and what it means
in different circumstances. Although gating always represents a spatial strategy for
managing difference, the analysis demonstrates variations in the social and political
production of enclosure both within and between societies. The forms and functions of
enclosures reflect the cultural and historical context within which gating occurs. Israel
has a longstanding history of overt ethnic conflict over space and rights. In recent
decades, violence has occurred often and has sometimes threatened residential
environments. Consequently, people take barriers seriously, using them to separate
groups and to define or claim space. In this context, older forms of enclosed communities
coexist and evolve alongside newer forms of gated communities. Residential enclaves
employ boundaries — whether concrete walls, fences and armed guards, or more
symbolic ones — for social control. The Israeli case demonstrates how different
configurations of enclosure that may be protecting unique cultural values and lifestyles,
promoting government policies or facilitating class-based desires are manifested under
different conditions. In contrast to Israel with its political tension, Canada has a
longstanding history of relative peace. Although aboriginal communities continue to
plead for land rights, the country has seen limited overt conflict over space. Its political
leaders advocate multiculturalism and celebrate diversity and tolerance. Residential
environments are generally perceived as safe and open. In the Canadian context, where
gated communities appear, they have limited security functions; rather, they represent
lifestyle choices and mark social status.
The analysis contributes useful theoretical insights to the gated-community discourse
by identifying two classes of enclosures: social enclaves self-organize or are created
through market mechanisms to exploit socially significant differences; colonizing
1 Research was conducted between 2003 and 2007; a national inventory of gated communities was
produced for each country and exploratory interviews were conducted with respondents involved in
developing, regulating or inhabiting enclaves in a range of communities. In the Canadian study, 39
people were interviewed in 2003 and 31 in 2007. Interviews were recorded and transcribed for
analysis. The Israeli study involved interviewing 60 people between 2005 and 2007, with
researchers taking detailed notes; a mail survey to all 113 local planning committees in 2005 received
a response rate of 47%.
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enclaves rely on the power of the state or its proxies to control or appropriate territory on
behalf of privileged groups. Findings about the motivations behind enclosure from the
case studies elaborate on theoretical understandings about the social functions that gated
communities may provide.
Enclosed communities in Israel
Since Israel’s establishment in 1948, the Arab–Israeli conflict has been a dominant factor
in public decision making, particularly in issues of security and land development.
Security in general and fortification and gating in particular are deeply embedded in the
Israeli life and landscape. Common security measures include surveillance technology,
guards at shopping centres and public institutions, and enclosed campuses. Urban
residential neighbourhoods are generally considered safe, yet developers increasingly
employ gates as a design tool to enhance the image of security.
Strongly influenced by the political project of building a democratic Jewish nation-
state, Israel’s planning and development policies aimed at absorbing new Jewish
immigrants and securing the country’s borders and Jewish character (Shachar, 1998).
Legal and institutional arrangements formed a hierarchical, three-tiered planning system
(local, district and national) that is primarily controlled by central government agencies
(Alterman, 2002). Since the late 1970s, economic restructuring and ideological
transformations have reshaped power relations in society. Diminishing coherence of
central government action and increased entrepreneurialism among local governments
(Razin, 1990) has been accompanied by the growing role of NGOs in challenging
governmental planning and land policies through public, political, planning and legal
campaigns (Yacobi, 2007; Rosen and Razin, 2009). Successive waves of immigration
and rapid growth of the Arab population have continuously increased overall cultural
diversity, leaving Israel socially heterogeneous but spatially divided. Residential
segregation follows particular fault lines: ethno-national (for example, Jews/Arabs),
religious-cultural (secular/religious), ideological, socio-economic and ethnic (Gonen,
1995). Social polarization pervades Israeli society.
Israel is spatially segregated into homogenous clusters. Fortified or enclosed
communities are deeply rooted in Israeli society, developing in varying institutional and
cultural settings. Rosen and Razin (2008) identified three major types of gated or
enclosed enclaves: traditional enclaves (ethno-religious communities), frontier enclaves
(settling contested territory) and new gated communities (a product of market conditions
under neoliberalism). Each represents different social–historical processes. Gating
reinforces and reproduces the social boundaries between groups. An NGO planner
described the importance of boundary marking in Israeli society during an interview as
follows: ‘In this country the most important ingredient is boundaries. It is less important
how these are achieved. Neighbourhoods are planned and function as enclosed —
exclusively serving their residents — even without the use of gates’.
Within valued heritage spaces a range of traditional enclaves encourage ‘gated lives’
even though residents may not erect physical walls and gates (Brunn, 2006). Traditional
enclaves in Israel typically house ethno-religious communities that enforce social and
spatial distance from others. Many such districts appear within cities such as Jerusalem
and Bene Beraq (Gonen, 1995). An NGO planner noted: ‘In Jerusalem, the reality of
enclaves is most apparent. Residential enclosure crosses social divisions and is not
limited to secular groups in society. It is also most apparent within ultra-orthodox
groups’.
These communities impose self-segregation to reduce contacts with outsiders
(Shilhav, 1991). A planner in Jerusalem explained: ‘Residential areas of ultra-orthodox
groups are isolated and enclosed. Although they do not have guards, their social cohesion
and unique way of life dictates a highly segregated use of public space’.
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To facilitate the intended social distance, residents employ various social and
symbolic mechanisms (Hasson, 2001). Community members protect the unique cultural
values and lifestyles of those within the community by creating effective symbolic
boundaries that constrain the behaviour of insiders and outsiders within the enclave. In
ultra-orthodox communities in Jerusalem, for instance, female visitors are expected to
cover their bodies; vehicles may not enter on the sabbath. Social control mechanisms
support indigenous values. The symbolic enclosure functions to manage outsiders so that
they do not disrupt the community. While traditional communities rarely erect physical
gates, they use signage extensively to mark territory (see Figure 1). Signs play a vital
symbolic role in identifying behavioural expectations. In Mary Douglas’s (1966) terms,
the signs and marks of enclosure seek to retain the purity of the community from the
dangers of the secular world. Warning signs request strangers to dress and behave in
accordance with internal religious codes. Although paid security guards are not common,
roving groups of men occasionally question outsiders visiting the residential areas. ‘Eyes
on the street’ are everywhere in the community, reinforcing local ethnic and religious
mores. The social production of these enclosed spaces is motivated by cultural values and
ways of life, but can also be actively supported by state policies and practices.
Outside the major cities, frontier enclaves hold and use territory in an unstable
political context (Carmon, 1994). The physical enclosure conveys a general message to
Figure 1 Signs in Mea Shearim religious enclave warn outsiders to behave according to
enclave norms
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strangers (especially to those of differing ethnicity and class) that these communities are
protected (see Figure 2). Enclosure functions to secure people and property from ethnic–
national conflicts and from petty crime. The boundary helps to create identity for the
settlement while establishing a clear demarcation between insiders and outsiders. In the
context of continuing geopolitical conflict between Jews and Palestinians, the physical
enclosure represents a tangible reminder of the structure of power relations in contested
claims over land and rights. The state may provide resources to facilitate the
establishment and maintenance of frontier enclaves.
Enclosure helps to manage the real-estate market for members in frontier
communities. Sorting committees that select members who are able to meet the costs
and to work effectively with others sustain social cohesion in kibbutzim and
community settlements. These communities form what Webster (2002) calls a club
realm, with shared collective amenities. In some cases, physical barriers limit access to
publicly owned land within the enclosed settlements, thus privatizing public space. In
other cases, especially in community settlements, sorting committees advance ethno-
class segregation via discriminatory procedures. The Supreme Court and the State
Comptroller have criticized such practices (Tzfadia, 2005).
Given the role of frontier communities in Israeli history, varying parties interpret the
symbolic functions of enclosure differently. Some describe frontier settlements as
flagship developments promoting values of Zionism and communitarian aspirations
amongst ideological communities of limited membership. Others see class-based
segregation trying to imitate the American dream of suburban living. Critics describe
these enclaves as manifestations of a discriminatory land regime that promotes ethnic
exclusion and colonialism (Falah, 1990; Yiftachel, 1997). In some places, government
agencies manipulate planning and development procedures to favour Jewish middle-
class groups while excluding, neglecting and alienating Arab Palestinian populations
(Tzfadia, 2005). Such discriminatory policies foster highly uneven development patterns
and exacerbate socio-spatial disparities (Shmueli, 2008).
Since frontier Jewish settlements occur outside of areas where Jews are the majority
group, enclosure promotes a feeling of security for the property and lives of members.
Physical security features reduce opportunities for petty theft or other criminal activities
by outsiders. Enclosure marks the distinction between the insiders who are members of
the community and any outsiders who wish to enter but require surveillance. The
boundaries of frontier enclaves typically include fences, barbed-wire fencing, sliding
gates and/or swing gates. Such measures present a physical boundary between those
inside and those outside the enclave. The marking of a community’s boundaries
symbolically reinforces the struggle over land and contributes to residents’ feelings of
shared identity.
Figure 2 Armed guards check visitors in frontier settlements such as Har Adar
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Because of their remote locations, perceived threats and visible differences in
amenities from their neighbours, the settlements feature extensive security measures.
Frontier enclaves typically employ armed guards who patrol the premises and manage
the entry at designated times. An elected municipal official revealed during an interview
the state’s role in producing the enclaves:
We were ordered and partly funded by the army to erect fences and gates. All the [Jewish]
settlements in this region close off their gates during the night time. Private security firms patrol
the settlements and entrance is permitted only to the local residents of a community or other
people who are permitted to do so. We have to secure our homes and quality of life.
While the gates and guards reveal the legacy of the past, contemporary shifts in the
meaning of the settlements from ideological outposts to lifestyle developments introduce
new functions: privacy and prestige are added to the security motivations that impelled
earlier generations of residents.
The third category of residential enclaves seen in Israel involves new market-produced
gated communities. Market-generated residential enclaves for affluent households (some
for seniors) are appearing mostly in the metropolitan area of Tel Aviv, the economic heart
of the county. Such fortified private communities are similar to those appearing in other
countries. They reflect a class-based desire for lifestyle, amenities and prestige. A
resident explained:
We moved in, as we loved the place. We had a house in the suburbs and when our kids left home
we wanted to live near the sea. Living in the suburbs was just a ‘bubble life’compared to living
in here. We wanted a package of services and amenities but did not want to live in a
condominium.
Sometimes developed in collaboration with local government, new market-produced
enclaves reflect contemporary patterns of spatial segregation as interpreted in the Israeli
context (Lehavi, 2005; Rosen and Razin, 2009). Physical containment of these
developments creates a sense of identity for the neighbourhood and plays a role in
marketing the units. The enclosure provides residents with spatial and visual privacy.
Gates and walls secure property in inner-city projects and near recreational sites. In
contrast with the frontier community settlements, where residents choose new members,
the new gated communities depend on market mechanisms — that is, the price of
units — as a socio-economic buffer, and on homeowners’ associations for collective
governance. Rather than enclose a collective and cooperative community, the walls
segregate wealthy individuals, who form class-based consumer clubs (Webster, 2002;
Webster and Glasze, 2006). Enclosure provides a tool for manipulating and enhancing
market prices and for protecting club amenities shared by residents. Amenities vary
considerably between projects. Guards and perimeter fences, employed even in areas
where the entry gate may remain formally open to anyone, project a strong image of
privacy and exclusivity. Enclosures in new market-generated gated communities often
feature walls and planted hedges. Lift-arm or sliding gates are common. Such measures
function mainly to project an image of safety, stability and prestige, as a manager of a
retirement village said: ‘The major motivation of our residents to move in is the quality
of life. Gates and fences are just elements of prestige and a part of marketing’.
The enclosure of new market-produced projects symbolizes a growing class divide
with associated differences in lifestyle and expectations of privacy. Gates display power
and status to those outside the development while preventing non-residents from entering
the private residential club. Critics may view these as intrusive regeneration projects
designed to replace poorer groups. Where the developments occur in mixed residential
areas of Jews and Arabs these may be accused of state-promoted colonization —
evidence of the economic conquest of mixed urban territories that embody complex
socio-economic and ethno-national meanings. Gated communities provide another tool
for transforming Palestinian places and identity into Israeli/Zionist development
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(Monterescu and Fabian, 2003; LeVine, 2004; Monterescu, 2009). In cases where a
history of segregation and ethnic conflict existed, especially when government exercised
its power in favour of one ethnic group, market mechanisms may reproduce inequalities
and further deepen them (Massey and Denton, 1993; Ford, 1994; Landman, 2006).
However, the Israeli case shows that since the 1990s, new market-generated gated
communities developed by private entrepreneurs for groups of middle to high socio-
economic status also owe a debt to global processes and market preferences for exclusive
residential districts (Grant and Rosen, 2009; Rosen and Razin, 2009). Most new market-
oriented enclaves are not located along ethnic fault lines, nor do they reflect extreme
socio-economic gaps between those within the gates and those left outside. While
Jewish–Arab tensions and other frictions associated with religion or ethnicity permeate
Israeli life, interviews with those producing, regulating and inhabiting the enclaves
suggested that such issues do not serve as the most commonly discussed motivation for
enclosing new gated communities.
All three types of enclaves in Israel reveal strategies for producing, marking and
managing social difference (whether related to ethnicity, religion, class, age or socio-
political values). Each type of enclave encloses homogenous social groups that are
anxious to limit their interaction with people who are unlike themselves. Widespread use
of physical strategies for separation reflects and reproduces a social structure and history
marked by varying types and levels of spatial segregation. The Israeli state and Zionist
organizations have played a significant role in facilitating enclosed communities in
contested territory and in promoting the interests of particular social groups, thereby
reinforcing social difference and power imbalances. On top of traditional strategies of
marking difference, new lines of class cleavage are reinforced through market
mechanisms that follow international trends toward gating. In a context of increasing
social diversity in contemporary Israel, the trend to spatial segregation, often marked by
significant physical barriers or armed security personnel, is reproduced.
Gated communities in Canada
By and large, Canada has a history of open settlements. National myths actively endorse
cultural diversity and social integration. However, history indicates that some colonial
planted settlements of the seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries initially had walls;
suppression of resistance by aboriginal inhabitants and relocation of First-Nations
peoples to remote reserves (Harris, 2004) established a peaceful context within which the
country grew. Only a few of the early settlements retain remnants or reconstructions of
historic walls, which are now prominent features in tourism promotion. A small number
of religious communities enclose collective settlements in rural regions but processes of
land development generally resulted in open residential areas. Gated communities are
relatively recent in origin, dating principally to the post-1980 period. Most enclosed
projects are new market-derived gated communities that serve the middle and upper
middle classes. They owe more to precursors in Florida, Arizona and California than to
Canada’s colonial history.
By virtue of the definition used to create an inventory of Canadian gated communities,
all the projects profiled had gates across the entry streets (Grant et al., 2004).
Communities often leave the gates open or erect barriers that limit access to vehicles but
not to pedestrians (see Figure 3). Especially in rural areas, pedestrians can easily walk
around the gates to enter the community. However, the presence of the gate tends to
engender the kind of self-othering behaviour that Rofe (2006) describes in Australian
enclaves: upon seeing the barriers and other signs marking private space, the prospective
visitor feels unwelcome and may choose not to enter.
Properties within Canadian enclaves are often architecturally homogenous, creating
a strong design identity. Symbolically significant entry features marking the
development’s name distinguish the projects from neighbouring communities and create
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a clear image for the enclave. Paradoxically, the most exclusive of the enclaves may not
identify a community name on the gates, preferring to preserve residents’ anonymity.
Some affluent projects separate themselves from the public realm with beautiful
vegetation, ornate fountains or guard houses.
Signs remind visitors that they are entering a private community where speeds and
parking are tightly controlled, to distinguish the private enclave from the public streets.
The streets of the enclave are not connected to other communities except at gated entries,
thus creating a traffic-calming effect (Greene and Maxwell, 2004). During an interview,
a developer explained the motivation as follows:
This project will be two to three years building and we wouldn’t gate the project until after it
is built because there are too many problems with gates during construction, with trucks
passing through, etc. However, if we don’t gate it we will have a parade of gawkers through the
project. It is not so much a concern about breaking and entering, but of people driving through
the project site. We literally have them by the dozens — or did at our previous community —
and they are so busy looking at the homes that they don’t look where they are going. There are
no sidewalks and it is dangerous for walkers and kids on bicycles.
Although a few enclaves use religion as the basis for social cohesion, most often
Canadian gated projects are class-based. Units within the developments appeal to
particular income levels and household types. The residents of projects are relatively
homogenous in age and family status. The developments generate medium-density
housing with shared recreational amenities such as pools or club houses. Many of the
enclosures reveal particular lifestyle choices: they may be associated with a golf course,
for instance. Enclaves have proved especially popular with retirees: this helps to explain
the preponderance of gated settlements in British Columbia, where the climate is more
moderate than that of the rest of the country. Most developments are attractively
packaged condominium projects, although some involve land-lease properties. In an
ironic counterpoint to the early colonial walled communities that used these enclaves to
wrest control of Canada from its aboriginal peoples (Harris, 2004), some First-Nations
reserves in British Columbia have developed gated enclaves for lease to non-aboriginals.
One of the principal functions of enclosure in urban and suburban projects is to
enhance property values and project attractiveness. Developers and purchasers perceive
the gates to increase property values by offering residents an added amenity, as one
developer explained:
Figure 3 A broken gate in a Surrey (British Columbia) neighbourhood awaits repair (photo
by B. Laven)
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The idea is developed around the board table when you are master-planning a project. The
developer will throw out to the sales team, ‘Do you guys think the project would be more
attractive from a sales point-of-view if it is gated or not? Are you going to sell more...ifitis
gated?’ ‘Yeah, I think we should gate it.’ It gives a bit of prestige and then gets rid of the
problem of people driving around when we are finished.
The enclosure gives residents visual or spatial privacy by preventing strangers from
coming into the residential neighbourhood. At the same time, the gates display the power
and status of the occupants. Restricted entry to the community protects club amenities
and limits outsiders entering to use shared pools, golf courses, club houses or parks.
While some Canadian projects have relatively high fences and significant security
measures, most gated enclaves have fairly permeable boundaries or low fences. In
some cases, waterways, coastlines, ravines or other topographic features constitute
unenclosed development boundaries. Some projects have brick or concrete walls, but
more have open wrought-iron fencing with vegetation to soften the edges. Some
jurisdictions regulate the fencing to prevent long stretches of opaque walls lining
collector roads. For the most part, those involved in marketing and regulating gated
developments in Canada deny that security is the driving motivation for enclosure
(Grant, 2005). Projects are sometimes securely fenced and bounded in cases where the
housing is expensive or in situations where infill development is surrounded by other
neighbourhoods. Barbed wire, as may be used in Israel, or electrified fencing, as
Landman (2002) describes in South Africa, does not appear around Canadian urban or
suburban enclaves.
Enclaves typically mark the private nature of their streets by using distinct paving
materials, by building narrow streets, or by erecting speed bumps or chicanes to slow
traffic. Signs are often used to establish very low speed limits and restrict visitor parking.
Some projects have entry structures that look like guard stations; these may house
mailboxes and call boxes for visitors to contact residents for entry. Most gated projects
have sliding or swing gates that completely block street entry when closed, but some use
lift-arm or swing-arm gates. Code entry and automatic gate openers commonly provide
access to the communities.
While many homes within gated developments have private house alarms, the
communities collectively employ few security mechanisms. Only a handful of large
projects (with over 1,000 units each) employ guards or use video surveillance. Armed
guards are not employed in Canadian enclaves. For the most part, security measures are
rudimentary (Grant et al., 2004).
In contrast with Israeli experience, the state in Canada has not produced gated
communities (except for military bases and prisons) in many years. Generally,
developers produce gated communities in Canada to address the interests of affluent
consumers who are looking for privacy and exclusivity in a segregated space. A resident
of one such community explained: ‘That is what this is driven by, a lifestyle environment.
Do you want nice surroundings? Yeah, I want green and I want this. I want one with a
golf course, so you go to one with a golf course. But it is all driven by money. Let’s not
kid ourselves. That is what starts and ends all this’.
While enclosed communities are in some sense naturalized in Israel by historic
traditions of walled settlements and interpreted through socio-political circumstances,
those producing enclaves in Canada struggled to explain and justify their motivations to
erect barriers. A manager of a Canadian gated community crafted a careful rationale for
the decision to enclose: ‘Together this market research indicated that there was a large
market of retirees from Toronto and Mississauga and that these people were concerned
about security and privacy. The people didn’t specifically mention the gate, but it was a
logical solution to their requests for security and privacy’.
Respondents in Canada often explained gating not as a strategy for segregation but as
a tool for giving seniors greater privacy and comfort in their golden years. Although those
producing and regulating gated communities in Canada range from being strong
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advocates to feeling uneasy with the phenomenon, the issue has yet to generate
significant opposition or political attention among the wider public.2
Reproducing difference
The application of Grant and Mittelsteadt’s (2004) typology facilitated the comparison
of communities in Israel and Canada; however, the analysis revealed some limitations of
the framework. For instance, the range of signage used to manage and segregate users is
wider than simple ‘no parking’ or ‘private property’ messages. In Israel, signs about
appropriate clothing and permitted activities on the sabbath constitute significant
symbolic barriers to entry by non-residents. The Israeli case illustrates types of activities
used to control space that are not postulated in the framework: local resident groups can
manage activities in and public access to space, rendering physical barriers unnecessary.
The framework pays insufficient attention to the political and historical context within
which gates appear. Studies that compare gating across nations or through time illustrate
the differences in gating generated by cultural context and necessitate more nuanced
theory and analytical tools. The enclaves in Israel reflect a history of inter-group conflict
and social separation that is strongly reinforced by contemporary state and market
mechanisms by means of walls, gates and guards. The gated developments in Canada
weakly insert spatial barriers to mark social status differences within a context of relative
security. Both Israel and Canada illustrate the role of socio-economic disparity and
globalization in facilitating new market-oriented gated enclaves.
The comparative analysis of Canada and Israel offers several theoretical insights
regarding gated communities. First, it highlights differences in how gated enclaves are
produced and by whom. In both Canada and Israel the market generates new gated
projects as a niche development strategy, permitted by a regulatory context that became
increasingly hands-off after the rise of neoliberal philosophies in the 1980s. In Israel, the
state and social groups also play important roles in producing enclaves.3The state
facilitates settlements to promote the Zionist cause and often provides subsidies for
enclosure and security. Self-organizing social groups create enclaves such as the
orthodox neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem. In some cases, social groups
form alliances with the state to populate community settlements in contested areas.
The analysis thus identifies two classes of residential enclaves, which are
differentiated according to how they are produced and the aims they achieve. Social
enclaves segregate people on the basis of some socially significant difference that is
typically related to ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status. These gated
communities may be self-organizing or the product of market factors that encourage or
require people to co-locate on the basis of a social characteristic. In the Israeli context,
they include the traditional enclaves of Orthodox Jews and the new class-based enclaves
of the recent era. In Canada, new class-based gated developments and rural religious
communes fit this categorization. The geographic location of these enclaves and the
particular manifestations they take relate to the social dynamics of the basis of
differentiation that residents seek to produce.
Colonizing enclaves engage the power of the state in directly facilitating or
constructing enclosed communities; these enclaves enable the state (or its proxies) to
control territory or empower particular groups differentially. Colonizing enclaves
2 Occasional flurries of critical articles appear in the popular media (e.g. Grant, 2003; Liebner, 2003;
Yelaja, 2003), but a sustained debate about gating has failed to emerge in Canada.
3 In Canada the state created fortified settlements in the colonial period but then abandoned that role.
Colonial powers also formed alliances with corporate interests such as the Hudson Bay Company in
the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to control territory, with forts at key locales. Social groups
are generally prevented from self-gating in Canada by regulatory regimes that strictly control land
development.
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typically exhibit a degree of social homogeneity, at least in their initial development. In
the early colonizing enclaves in Canada, the British or the French sent settlers to displace
aboriginal groups and to claim and hold territory. In Israel the state continues to support
planted settlements in contested territory as a strategy for furthering its aims: some of
these communities involve identified social groups that are anxious to segregate
themselves from others as they assist the state in its mission.
The second theoretical insight is that the cases reviewed indicate that articulations of
enclosure differ partly in relation to the motivation for enclosure (for example, whether
the need for security is strong, or whether gates mark a difference that can be managed
through social sanctions) and partly in response to the broader historic and cultural
context of inter-group relations (for example, whether law and order can generally be
secured, and the role of the state in those processes). In Israel the nature of the boundaries
differ depending on the perceived risk, the motivation for enclosure and the location of
the settlement. In new market-generated gated communities the social, economic and
symbolic motivations related to class and lifestyle lead to substantive physical
boundaries and economic structures that limit access to those of different status. The
larger context of insecurity encourages developers and residents to harden community
boundaries. For the frontier settlements the risk of confrontation in a contested landscape
generates an infrastructure of protection and community identity that becomes
entrenched and reinforced through time and experience. A long history of enclosure
validates the option as powerful even as it is contested. For Jews who have historically
been subjected to imposed confinement in ghettos and ethnic quarters, protective walls
have become a cultural strategy for (re)claiming control of space and identity. In a
context of political and ideological struggle, enclosure serves as a spatial strategy with
strong symbolic significance.
In terms of the nature of their strategies for enclosure, Canadian gated communities
seem more like the traditional Israeli ethnic enclaves than like the new Israeli gated
developments. They focus on disciplining outsiders and reinforcing the identity of
insiders, rather than on preventing access. In the inwardly directed traditional Israeli
religious and ethnic enclaves social and symbolic measures dominate: the community
asserts the dominance of its own values about human behaviour in its spatial context by
using signage and the threat of social intervention to condition the behaviour of
strangers. Boundaries are permeable and perceptions of physical insecurity minimal. In
Canada, too, the walls of many gated enclaves are more symbolic than real boundaries.
Open or broken gates are not uncommon, and walls may be incomplete. Security
concerns are limited in most Canadian enclaves; in a context of relatively strong social
order, minimal spatial markings may be necessary to convince others to stay out. Signs
at the entrance and within the community help insiders to develop a sense of shared
identity, and let outsiders know that they are entering a place where they do not belong.
Like the occupants of ethnic enclaves in Israel, Canadians who choose to inhabit a gated
community make a lifestyle choice.
While the comparison confirms the range of functions of enclosure as suggested in
Grant and Mittelsteadt’s (2004) typology, it offers additional insight into divergent
symbolic and social constructions around gating. In Canada the gates are primarily
symbolic markers of social difference and desires for class exclusion. In the relatively
secure Canadian context the gates fulfil these functions without being substantial; even
broken gates discourage visitors from entering. In Israel, social differences are
multifaceted and security concerns significant. Frontier settlements and new gated
enclaves use physically robust gates and walls to socially produce and spatially
reinforce difference. Armed guards and barbed-wire fencing control access of non-
members in the context of highly contested and sometimes violent geopolitics. A
history of conflict generates a context in which residents choose to take few chances.
By contrast, the traditional enclaves show little interest in physical security; they
accord priority to the desire for social separation. Shared historical circumstances
alone cannot explain the forms that spatial markings take; ultimately, the
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(re)production of space reflects the specific cultural values and logics of social groups
in contemporary circumstances.
Two factors — the fear of violence and the degree of internal social cohesion — may
predict the robustness of enclosure measures. In a context where the perceived risk of
physical violence or crime is high, strong security measures appear more commonly. As
Abu-Lughod (1987: 171) noted for Islamic cities: ‘Residents are particularly likely to
intensify their defence when the order in the outside society becomes weakened’. In
circumstances where groups have strong social cohesion, spatial measures may be less
necessary than social mechanisms to maintain group identity. The corollary of this
premise is that in conditions where group identity may be low, groups may employ strong
physical enclosure mechanisms to enhance solidarity.
A comparison of the character of enclaves in Israel and Canada reveals that the
motivations for enclosure differ between gated communities, thereby elaborating on the
social functions of enclosure as developed in Grant and Mittelsteadt’s (2004) model.
Particular residential enclaves may reflect some or all of the following motivations:
Some seek to keep the ‘other’ out. These enclaves reinforce social identity within and
may generate social capital by building commitment from members. The extent to
which enclaves define or mark difference and insist on compliance varies.
Some seek to keep the ‘other’ in. Ethnic ghettos or quarters may serve as mechanisms
for states to manage, control or discriminate against particular groups.
Some try to keep factions apart. Where states lack the means to maintain adequate
public safety and social control, physical separation may become an option to reduce
conflict between groups.
Some empower or advantage particular social groups or populations over others.
Some try to keep classes apart. Where the social distance between rich and poor is
growing, some classes may use physical means to achieve greater privacy, social
separation and economic returns.
Some attempt to create community identity or cohesion for collectives of individuals.
In societies where categories of individuals (for example, single women, elderly
persons) feel vulnerable in mixed neighbourhoods, security systems may provide a
substitute for social networks.
Some reflect the interest of developers in the contemporary ‘global city’ to use gated
enclaves as a marketing tool to appeal to particular populations.
Physical mechanisms for managing and reproducing social difference persist both in
political contexts that celebrate diversity (such as Canada) and in political circumstances
that seek to manage conflict rooted in difference (such as Israel). An examination of
gated communities in differing cultural and historic contexts demonstrates the ways in
which culture and politics mediate how this urban form is implemented and interpreted,
and contributes to ongoing efforts to develop theory to explain the phenomenon.
Gillad Rosen (gillad.rosen@mail.huji.ac.il), Department of Geography, The Hebrew
University of Jerusalem, Mount Scopus, Jerusalem, Israel, and Jill Grant
(jill.grant@dal.ca), School of Planning, Dalhousie University, Box 1000 Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2X4, Canada.
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Résumé
Les études historiques et culturelles relatives aux enclaves résidentielles révèlent les
divers schémas d’un phénomène que certains voient principalement comme le produit
des conditions néolibérales contemporaines. Les communautés fermées sécurisées n’ont
rien de nouveau et ne résultent pas non plus de circonstances ou de principes universels.
Elles sont le reflet, entre autres, de situations historiques, de préoccupations
contemporaines, d’ambitions culturelles et de dynamiques entre groupes. En s’appuyant
sur les comparaisons de communautés sécurisées inventoriées en Israël et au Canada,
l’article explore certaines des articulations et fonctions de la création d’enclave.
Mettant en évidence les distinctions au sein d’un ensemble d’implantations fermées et
isolées plus ou moins anciennes, il tente d’élaborer un cadre permettant d’expliquer
l’éventail des schémas observés et certaines de leurs motivations sous-jacentes. Si de
nombreuses enclaves israéliennes affichent des mesures de sécurité poussées, dont des
gardes en armes, les communautés sécurisées canadiennes appliquent généralement des
dispositifs légers tels que des clôtures peu élevées. Les schémas utilisés pour marquer
une différence renforcent les conditions sociales distinctes, tout en ayant des incidences
spatiales variées. La comparaison fait apparaître des variations sur les points suivants:
qui génère l’enclave, comment et à quelles fins.
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... These often include, but are not limited to, changing social demography (Blakely &Snyder, 1997;Glasze & Alkhayyal, 2002), economic and political institutions (Landman, 2004;Obeng-Odoom, 2018), history and social norms (Rosen & Grant, 2011;Yip, 2012), and property rights arrangements (McKenzie, 2003;Webster, 2001). Some scholars also combine several features of a gated community to conjecture a typology. ...
... (2) residents' socio-demographic characteristics such as residents' age and income brackets; (3) locational attributes such as the inner city or suburban areas, and (4) communities, according to Rosen and Grant (2011), are residential areas where religious leaders strictly enforce social and spatial distance between insiders and outsiders. These developments are common in Jerusalem and are isolated from the traditional town centre. ...
... Frontier enclaves, on the other hand, are spaces that reflect a blend of identitymindedness and pursuit of political control. According to Rosen and Grant (2011) such as university lecturers, bankers, accountants, among others. The fourth typology is public gated housing. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
From the late 1980s, debates regarding the proliferation of gated communities have progressed from being US-centric to acknowledgement of an international research agenda. Despite their ubiquity globally, there is a dearth of empirical research about how developers of gated communities navigate the processes heralding the commencement of their projects. Previous studies have focused upon the mutually beneficial relationship between developers and fiscally distressed local government authorities. Such studies also reflect exigencies in contexts with privatised land markets, and local planning authorities wield unfettered control over urban planning and residential development. However, in Ghana, where gated communities are rapidly proliferating, the land administration and land-use planning systems are problematic. Hence this research examines how the land administration and landuse planning systems in Ghana have contributed to the proliferation of gated communities following experiences from key actors involved in the development process and residents who move into gated communities. Drawing upon new institutionalism and using a mixed research method, the research presents the case of the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area. It finds that the institutional landscape in Ghana's built environment creates both direct and indirect incentives that benefit developers. Also, the challenges in land administration and land-use planning shape how developers understand gated communities, the typology found in Ghana, and the features that characterize them. Additionally, developers’ engagement with other key actors in the development process reinforces 'practical norms' in the land acquisition, land title registration, and building permit acquisition in Ghana. Finally, the research confirms the hypothesis that land administration challenges in Ghana significantly contribute to why people move into gated communities. Also, residents' demographic and locational characteristics emerged as significant predictors of their likelihood to move into gated communities due to land administration challenges. The research also reflects on implications for theory, future research and policy.
... In her case study of residents living in the Palmares GCs in Metropolitan Mendoza, Argentina, Roitman (2005) reports that some gated residents perceive the 'open city' to be crime-prone and hence the walls establish a physical, social, and symbolic distance between them and the outsiders. Rosen and Grant (2011) observe that for countries like Russia, China and England that have a long history of walling and fortified architecture, the remaining walls have become 'mythologised symbols of a glorious past, used to fuel tourism' (p.779). In Israel, Rosen & Grant (2011) note that following the overt ethnic conflicts over space and rights, walls and other security features are introduced to protect unique cultural values and lifestyles. ...
... Rosen and Grant (2011) observe that for countries like Russia, China and England that have a long history of walling and fortified architecture, the remaining walls have become 'mythologised symbols of a glorious past, used to fuel tourism' (p.779). In Israel, Rosen & Grant (2011) note that following the overt ethnic conflicts over space and rights, walls and other security features are introduced to protect unique cultural values and lifestyles. In the Chinese case, Xu and Yang (2009) and several other Chinese scholars (He, 2013;Lee-Wong, 2018;Wu, 2006;Yip, 2012) concede that walls have always been part of Chinese architecture and that unlike the West, where they are tools for class and racial segregation, walled courtyards serve as 'communal spaces for local inhabitants to nurture a strong sense of community' (Douglass et al., 2012); albeit as a form of social control, especially during the era of the dan-wei (Wu, 2006(Wu, , 2013 and more recently during the influx of rural migrants to cities (Pow, 2009). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines the functions walls perform in gated communities from the standpoints of both gated community developers and their residents. It posits three types of walls and scrutinises the purpose for each. Drawing empirical data from face-to-face interviews with 11 developers and 20 residents drawn from two gated communities in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area in Ghana, the paper finds that, contrary to received wisdom, internal cluster walls in gated communities are used to segregate residents into different economic and social classes, often under the pretext of offering them different housing choices. It further casts doubts on the widely touted view that gated communities offer a better sense of security as residents express anxieties over suspected criminals living among them. The paper concludes by calling for a re-examination of several features of gated communities , including the meaning of the concept itself and the typolo-gies that exist to bring out more of such nuances. ARTICLE HISTORY
... This point is reinforced by Geniş (2007) who argues that 'gated communities are becoming a global commodity and cultural icon eagerly consumed by urban elites world-wide' (p. 771)-recognizing that globalization plays an important role in facilitating new market-oriented gated enclaves (Rosen & Grant, 2011). span rural-urban migration, urban informality in cities of the developing world, international migration, migrants' integration, and transnationalism. ...
... Building on studies of residential gating in the Middle East (Glasze & Alkhayyal, 2002;Kuppinger, 2004;Glasze, 2006;Geniş, 2007;Alaily-Mattar, 2008;Rosen & Razin 2008;Rosen & Grant 2011;Blander et al., 2018), this project seeks to: a) assess the historical roots of contemporary gated communities in Bahrain; b) situate gated communities within the city's contemporary urban geography. Residential land use comprises the largest single category of land use within an urban area. ...
Article
Full-text available
Residential gating is a notable element in cities worldwide, but notable gaps exist in studies of residential gating in smaller cities and the Global South. This article examines the historical and urban geographies of residential gating in the Arab Gulf, using a case study from Bahrain. This research adds new nuance to studies of gated communities by presenting a case study from a smaller city in the Global South and integrating observations and interviews. The results explain the reasons for gated community development in Bahrain and provide insight into gated communities’ built and social environments in Bahrain. The article concludes that in ordinary cities, understanding urban development in general, and gated developments in particular, demands attention to their spatiotemporal contexts. Attention to these contexts can provide new insights that contribute to efforts to interpret and theorise contemporary urbanisation processes.
... This point is reinforced by Geniş (2007:771) who argues that "gated communities are becoming a global commodity and cultural icon eagerly consumed by urban elites world-wide". Using the case studies of Israel and Canada, Rosen and Grant (2011) argue that globalization plays an important role in facilitating new market-oriented gated enclaves. Globalization has also led to the rapid spread of neo-liberal urbanism. ...
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... However, gated communities have been given special consideration by town planners, housing developers and researchers since the 1800's when Tuxedo Park, the first gated community emerged in USA (Kim 2006). Later, gated communities visibly grew not only in USA but also in other developed countries like UK, Australia and Canada (Blakely and Snyder 1999;Macionis and Parrillo 2004;Davies and McAllister 2004;Grant 2005Grant , 2007Rosen and Grant 2011). ...
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First Published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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