Gated communities in America: Walling out the world?

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Gated communities—enclaves of homes surrounded by walls, often with security guards—are becoming increasingly popular in America. This article introduces and analyzes findings of a Fannie Mae Foundation—sponsored panel on gated communities held at the 1997 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning annual conference. A key finding is that many people choose to reside in gated communities because they believe that such places reduce risk, ranging from the mundane (e.g., unwanted social exchanges) to the high stakes (e.g., declining home values).

In many ways, gated communities deliver what they promise, by providing an effective defense against daily intrusions. However, some of their benefits entail a high social cost. A sense of community within gated communities comes at the expense of a larger identity with the region outside. Gated communities manifest and reinforce an inward-focused community culture, where the tension between the individual and society tilt toward self-interest.


Community; Gated communities – Social aspects; Land use/zoning; Suburban; Suburbs; United States


Human Geography | Urban Studies | Urban Studies and Planning


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