A hierarchy of Urban communities: Observations on the nested character of place

  • Kusenbach M
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Revisiting Hunter's (1974, 1979) classic but rarely applied notion of a "hierarchy of communities," this article investigates the nested meanings and uses of place in the urban realm. Qualitative research conducted in two Los Angeles neighborhoods in the late 1990s revealed the existence of four layers of community, here called microsettings, street blocks, walking distance neighborhoods, and enclaves. Wide all these geographies have been examined previously by urban scholars in a variety of contexts, they have never been linked and discussed together as parts of a hierarchy of communities. The main section of the article explores the four layers by taking into account residents' sentiments and practical uses of their environment, neighborly interaction and relationships, and locals' participation in collective events and rituals. For each zone of community, I discuss two salient characteristics and briefly compare the two research neighborhoods. The conclusion reflects on the interchange change of the identified layers and Suggests further uses of the new conceptual model.

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  • Margarethe Kusenbach

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