Urban neighbourhoods and intergroup relations: The importance of place identity

Fátima Bernardo & José-Manuel Palma-Oliveira

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Bernardo, F. & Palma-Oliveira, J. (1). Urban neighbourhoods and intergroup relations: The importance of place identity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 45, 239–251. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2016.01.010

Intergroup Relations , Neighborhoods , Place Identity , Place Satisfaction

The aim of this paper is to bring the concept of place identity into the context of intergroup relationships in urban place, using the social identity approach. A field study was conducted in four adjacent neighbourhoods in the city of Lisbon, in order to explore the influence of place identity on the perception of the participants’ own neighbourhood and its residents (in-group) and of the other neighbourhoods and their residents (out-groups). The results showed that place identity was highly correlated with neighbourhood satisfaction, relevant out-group differentiation, and favouritism to the in-group and depreciation of the relevant out-group. The results also enabled the identification of three types of possible relationships between the groups: a relevant out-group for comparison, an idealized reference group for approximation, and a devaluated group for avoidance. Moreover, in this study, we extend the predictions of SIA to the comprehension of specific distance estimation distortion patterns.

Main finding
The nature of a person's satisfaction with, and attachment to, their neighborhood could be associated with complex relationships to their neighbors and residents of other areas. For example, in this study, neighborhood residents with a stronger perception of neighborhood satisfaction and quality reported a stronger sense of identity with their neighborhood, as well as a lower perceived sense of distance between their neighborhood and the city center. In other words, residents with strong sense of attachment and satisfaction with their neighborhoods feel closer to the city center, and also more distinct from other neighborhoods. Residents on the opposite end of the spectrum, however (those with low place identity), are more likely to associate their identity with different physical scales (such as the city or the national level, or even a with particular subset of the neighborhood).

Description of method used in the article
Residents (N = 180, 97 women, 83 men, average age: 48) of four neighborhoods in eastern Lisbon, Portugal filled out a five-part questionnaire. (Neighborhoods: Parque das Naçoes, Chelas, Olivais, and Moscavide.) The questionnaire consisted of items related to (a) place identity and neighborhood satisfaction; (b) group homogeneity and intergroup differentiation; (c) perceptions of neighborhood quality, prestige, and security; (d) estimated distance from participants’ residences to other neighborhoods and the city center; and (e) socio-demographics. Results analyzed primarily with Pearson correlation and ANOVA for significant relationships.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Other or N/A
Environmental Psychology
Physical types
Geographic locations