, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 185–201

A multi-disciplinary framework for the study of private housing schemes: integrating anthropological, psychological and political levels of theory and analysis


DOI: 10.1007/s10708-009-9334-1

Cite this article as:
Low, S. GeoJournal (2012) 77: 185. doi:10.1007/s10708-009-9334-1


This paper examines the theories and methods involved in the study of the impact of private governance on residents in two distinct kinds of middle class housing schemes: gated community residents in New York and Texas living in single family attached and detached houses, and cooperative apartment dwellers in New York City. The studies employed a range of methodologies drawing on the disciplines of anthropology, psychology and political science. An attempt was made to understand residents lived experiences through a number of disciplinary lenses: theories of community and culture; theories of rationalization and psychological resistance, and theories of moral minimalism and representation. Each of these disciplinary layers added to the analysis, while at the same time, creating epistemological disjunctures and concerns that had to be addressed by the research team on an ongoing basis. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the benefits of this approach in terms of the production of new knowledge about private governance, while offering cautionary comments about undertaking interdisciplinary projects of this nature.


Gated communities Cooperative housing Community Identity Governance 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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