Political Behavior

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 79–101

Inactive by Design? Neighborhood Design and Political Participation

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11109-010-9149-2

Cite this article as:
Hopkins, D.J. & Williamson, T. Polit Behav (2012) 34: 79. doi:10.1007/s11109-010-9149-2


Critics have long denounced the design of suburban communities for fostering political apathy. We disaggregate the concept of suburban design into four distinct attributes of neighborhoods. We then use tract-level Census data, the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey, and multilevel models to measure the relationship between these design features and political participation. Certain design aspects common in suburban neighborhoods are powerful predictors of reduced political activity, illustrating a potential link between neighborhood design and politics. Yet low-density environments appear to facilitate some types of participation. Suburban designs vary, and so do their likely impacts on political participation.


Political participation Urban design Neighborhood effects Suburban sprawl Social capital 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Jepson School of Leadership StudiesUniversity of RichmondRichmondUSA

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