Networks, Space, and Residents’ Perception of Cohesion
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- Boessen, A., Hipp, J.R., Smith, E.J. et al. Am J Community Psychol (2014) 53: 447. doi:10.1007/s10464-014-9639-1
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Community scholars increasingly focus on the linkage between residents’ sense of cohesion with the neighborhood and their own social networks in the neighborhood. A challenge is that whereas some research only focuses on residents’ social ties with fellow neighbors, such an approach misses out on the larger constellation of individuals’ relationships and the spatial distribution of those relationships. Using data from the Twin Communities Network Study, the current project is one of the first studies to examine the actual spatial distribution of respondents’ networks for a variety of relationships and the consequences of these for neighborhood and city cohesion. We also examine how a perceived structural measure of cohesion—triangle degree—impacts their perceptions of neighborhood and city cohesion. Our findings suggest that perceptions of cohesion within the neighborhood and the city depend on the number of neighborhood safety contacts as well as on the types of people with which they discuss important matters. On the other hand, kin and social friendship ties do not impact cohesion. A key finding is that residents who report more spatially dispersed networks for certain types of ties report lower levels of neighborhood and city cohesion. Residents with higher triangle degree within their neighborhood safety networks perceived more neighborhood cohesion.