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Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2013)
Safety from crime in multifamily housing environments, where residents usually share hallways, common outdoor facilities, and parking spaces, has been a subject of research for decades. Strategies and tactics employed to enhance the safety of these environments may differ depending on residents' characteristics. This study explored residents' perceived and actual safety in multifamily environments in the United States and South Korea, as well as significant environmental variables. Using Newman's defensible space theory as the primary theoretical framework, we focused on how perceived safety in public and semipublic spaces relates to overall perceptions of safety in residential environments. We also examined crime experience in these environments and verified significant demographic and socioeconomic variables associated with residents' perceptions of safety. Data were collected from site visits and questionnaires administered to residents living in multifamily environments. The level of residents' safety perceptions differed between the two groups of residents. However, both groups exhibited strong correlations between perceived safety from crime in their communities and perceived safety in public spaces, such as recreational areas and parking lots, and semipublic spaces, such as building entrances and the vicinity. These findings underscore strong relationships among residents' perceptions of safety in different outdoor spaces, which the defensible space theory also supports. Based on these findings, we suggest ideas to improve residents' actual safety and perceptions of safety from crime.
Journal of Architectural and Planning Research (2013)
This study compares community-park design and residents' perceptions of safety in two subdivision communities in The Woodlands, Texas. The communities were built following two different planning approaches—the ecological approach and the conventional approach. Surveys have shown that residents generally feel safer in community parks built according to the latter approach. Using landscape metrics and home-to-park proximity indicators, we examine how different planning approaches affect park design and, as a result, influence residents' perceptions of safety. We cross-validated the results with survey studies conducted over several years. The study findings suggest that park location, spatial configuration of woody vegetation, and management of understory can be important design considerations that impact residents' perceived levels of safety. Park designers and managers should also consider providing parks that meet diverse needs and balance the requirements of ecological preservation, aesthetics, and cultural preference.
The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1980)
Streets have become dangerous, unlivable environments, yet most people live on them. Streets need to be redefined as sanctuaries; as livable places; as communities; as resident territory; as places for play, greenery, and local history. Neighborhoods should be protected, though not to the point of being exclusionary. The neighborhood unit, the environmental area and the Woonerf are examined as models for the protected neighborhood. The criteria for a protected neighborhood depend on acceptable speeds, volumes, noise levels, reduction of accidents, and rights-of-way for pedestrians.
Urban Studies (2010)
Research has identified several factors that affect fear of crime in public space. However, the extent to which gender moderates the effectiveness of fear-reducing measures has received little attention. Using data from the Chicago Transit Authority Customer Satisfaction Survey of 2003, this study aims to understand whether train transit security practices and service attributes affect men and women differently. Findings indicate that, while the presence of video cameras has a lower effect on women's feelings of safety compared with men, frequent and on-time service matters more to male passengers. Additionally, experience with safety-related problems affects women significantly more than men. Conclusions discuss the implications of the study for theory and gender-specific policies to improve perceptions of transit safety.
Environment and behavior (2001)
Defensible space (DS) theory proposes that the built environment can promote neighborhood safety and community by encouraging residents’ appropriation of near-home space. This article examined the relationship between three differ- ent forms of resident appropriation and residents’ experiences of neighborhood safety and community. Results from a survey of 91 public housing residents living in moderately defensible spaces suggested that residents who defended near-home space through territorial appropriation experienced the neighborhood as a safer, more cohesive community than did residents who did not appropriate space in this way. Residents who spent more time outside experienced the neighborhood as a safer place; however, casual social interaction in near-home space was not consistently related to outcomes. While no causal information is available from the correlational data presented here, this work takes an important step of providing empirical evidence of a systematic link between certain aspects of resident appropriation and positive outcomes. Implications for DS theory and for public housing policy are discussed.
Theory and Society (2009)
Over the last 30 years, social theorists have increasingly emphasized the importance of space. However, in empirical research, the dialectical relationship between social interaction and the physical environment is still a largely neglected issue. Using the theory of structuration, I provide a concrete example of why and how space matters in the cultural analysis of an urban social world. I argue that bike messengers—individuals who deliver time-sensitive materials in downtown cores of major cities—cannot be understood outside an analysis of space. Specifically, I connect the cultural significance of messenger practices to the emplacement of those practices inside the urban environment.
Social Problems (1990)
This article examines contemporary Americans' collective conceptions of childhood and children by focusing attention on the young's participation in public life. Children's behavior and treatment in public places were observed and recorded in fieldnotes over a two year period. These observations, related findings from previously published studies, contemporary urban legends, newspaper stories and advice columns are analyzed in light of the history of childhood in Western societies. That analysis indicates that the young's access to public places in contemporary American society is quite limited and that they are commonly treated as less than complete persons. At least in public places, there is little evidence that the distinction between childhood and adulthood is eroding in contemporary American society, as many have claimed.
Children, Youth and Environments (2006)
Results from an inner-city teen focus group on parks and urban green space in Los Angeles, California and responses to parallel questions posed to adults from the same area show striking differences. While adults focused on activities and cited a need for additional recreation-oriented parks for teens, teenagers themselves focused on greened spaces suitable for socializing and relaxing. Teens were also keenly interested in local parks, aware of maintenance issues, and concerned about personal safety.
Women's Studies International Forum (2005)
Outdoor advertising presents a unique case in that, unlike advertising in other media, an individual’s capacity to avoid exposure is inhibited. Unlike the private world of magazine and television advertising, outdoor advertising is displayed throughout public space, thus making regulation of the medium a pertinent public policy concern. The inescapable nature of outdoor advertising, compounded with the increasingly sexualised display of women within, demands that an active public policy response occurs. This paper draws from the disciplines of criminology, architecture, and feminist geography to argue that the continued sexualised portrayal of women in outdoor advertising works to illustrate and contribute to the social inclusion of men and the social exclusion of women in public space. I argue that these portrayals fuel women’s perceptions of fear and offence, and force them to limit their movements. I further suggest that such portrayals function to amplify masculine control of city spaces and reinforce women’s exclusion.
Urban Studies (2017)
The aim of this paper is to study how women’s privacy needs are met through the physical form of public spaces in both old and new urban designs, using as a case study the city of Nablus, Palestine, which has been significantly influenced by the culture of gender separation. The findings will help develop a better understanding of the relationship between women’s privacy and the physical form of public spaces and will enhance the development of public spaces that women can use comfortably and actively to participate in the urban life. An environmental approach based on the concept of behavioural setting was used to examine women’s privacy issues in the chosen public spaces. Direct observations and questionnaires were used in the fieldwork, in addition to interviews with women and relevant people who influence the women’s privacy. Maps (GIS), sketches and SPSS techniques were used to interpret the data.
Gender, Place & Culture (1997)
This article explores women’s fear of urban violence from a spatial perspective. It is based on qualitative data collected in Finland. It shows first that women do not have to be fearful. Boldness is associated with freedom, equality, and a sense of control over, and possession of space. Secondly, the article considers how and why fear of violence undermines some women’s confidence, restricting their access to, and activity within, public space. Women’s fear is generally regarded as ‘normal’ and their boldness thought to be risky: the conceptualization of women as victims is unintentionally reproduced. However, a more critical view might regard fear as socially constructed and see how it is actually possible for women to be confident and take possession of space.
Gender, Place & Culture (2001)
Fear in public spaces negatively impacts women’s lives. Even when danger is low, the idea of women as endangered in public space endures—due, in part, to its centrality in the construction of gender identity for men and women. In this article, the author examines the construction of contemporary, masculine gender identities and men’s perceptions of women as fearful and endangered in public space. Through interviews with 82 male students in Irvine, California, USA, the author examines how men’s construction of masculine identities builds upon perceptions of women as fearful and endangered in Irvine public spaces. Though they regard Irvine as safe, men see women as vulnerable there. The author investigates this apparent inconsistency in light of men’s performances of two masculine identities—the youthful ‘badass’ and the chivalrous man—which depend for their construction on opposition with women as fearful. Recommendations include suggestions for continued research on the spatial construction of masculine identities.
Journal of Urban Design (2012)
This paper reports on a pilot project to examine the concept of wellbeing as expressed locally by public reaction to the Peace Gardens refurbishment in the city centre of Sheffield completed in 1999. It was immediately popular with the public, but the aim was to find out what benefit people felt they derived from using the space. The study was conducted via a questionnaire delivered on site to pedestrian traffic over three weeks one summer. Over a thousand users of the space were asked one very simple question: How do the Peace Gardens make you feel? The authors’ interpretation of the responses indicates a very high level of approval. Users of the space reported high satisfaction across four themes: wellbeing, safety, community and respite. While these findings largely accord with the literature, further planned city-centre development threatens the success of the Peace Gardens. The paper considers whether the planning of such spaces is designed to empower users to meet others on their own terms, or whether planners recognize that social needs require to be more controlled in busy urban environments.
Journal of Environmental Psychology (2014)
Fear of crime is one of the most important problems in our cities, even in low-crime rate areas. The aim of this paper is to provide evidence of the issues involved in the perceived risk of victimization and fear of crime in these contexts using the Structural Equation Model (SEM) technique. Five hundred and seventy- one people living in a working-class neighborhood of Barcelona answered a 45-item questionnaire including the following 7 constructs: perception of insecurity, previous threat experiences, social representations of insecurity, personal control and coping skills, potential aggressors, urban identity, and perceived environmental quality. Findings confirm the theoretical model, in which fear of crime is structurally related to: a) environmental features, b) personal variables, and c) social representation of unsafe places. In addition, we found that the role of social aspects is as important as that of environ- mental and psychological ones. Residential satisfaction and urban social identity appear as relevant variables.
Gender, Place & Culture (2007)
This paper explores the complex relationship between transgendered people and cities in the USA, and, in particular, their relationship with queer spaces within those cities. Some have argued that queer spaces occur at the margins of society and constitute a safe haven for LGBT oppressed by the hetero-normative nature of urban areas. Data from a survey of 149 transgendered individuals indicate that although queer spaces provide a measure of protection for gender variant people, the gendered nature of these spaces results in continued high levels of harassment and violence for this population. The author argues that the strongly gendered dimensions of these spaces suggests that a discursive revisioning of gender is needed to create more transgender friendly urban spaces.
Social Problems (1990)
In this essay, I paint a portrait of women in public places and their concerns with crime prevention, based on a survey of the literature and in-depth interviews with women. I argue that there is a situationally appropriate self that crime-prevention advice literature suggests women adopt and that women attempt to adopt. This situated self, however, is sometimes constrained by the general character of public places and by the particular character of the belief system that women have and that the literature recommends with regard to crime prevention. In particular, I view normative beliefs about crime prevention as a "rhetoric" that involves negative contingencies for the woman's situated self in public, including frequent reliance on others, self-profanation, and lengthy or consuming preparations.
Environment and behavior (1988)
This study examines elderly public housing residents' fear and perceptions of the local crime problem. Based upon hypotheses proposed in Newman's theory of defensible space (1972), it was predicted that (a) high-rise tenants are more fearful and perceive the crime problem as greater than do tenants of low-rise buildings and (b) the negative effects of the high-rise are reduced when older residents are segregated from younger tenants. The analysis of survey responses by 945 elderly tenants nationwide indicated that building height had a significant effect upon reactions to crime. Unexpectedly, however, fear was lower among high-rise dwellers even though those who were segregated within these buildings assessed the local crime problem as more serious. These effects were not mediated by the incidence of crime on-site nor the elderly's victimization experience. The implications of these findings for the defensible space model of fear are discussed.
Men are at significantly greater risk than women to violent crime victimization in the US, especially in the public sphere. Despite this, their fears and vulnerabilities have received considerably less attention in recent social discourse than have women. Men's risk in, and fear of, public space is overshadowed by their apparent fearlessness in public space. This paper begins to address this apparent paradox using the conceptual lenses of masculinity and control. I explore fear and fearlessness among men as objects and subjects of masculinity. Stated fearlessness among men is counterbalanced by a chronic fear of violent crime victimization. Conditioned fearlessness combines with actual risk and chronic fear to shape men's experiences in the public sphere. I study the dynamics of men's fear using data gathered from a group of young men and women in Philadelphia. Gendered differences in fear and how environments are perceived and judged as to their relative safety are demonstrated and explored. Compared to women's fears and perceived geographical vulnerabilities, the men of this study demonstrate a persistent and chronic wariness of their environmental context that precedes any judgment of perceived safety. Violence and fear among both men and women in this study is further explained as a function of racism and economic marginalization.
Journal of Marriage and Family (2018)
The neighborhoods in which children grow up have consequences for their short‐ and long‐term well‐being. Although most neighborhood research measures disadvantage at the census tract level, more proximate physical characteristics of neighborhoods may be more relevant indicators of neighborhood quality for the well‐being of young children. Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, this study explores the association between these more proximate indicators of neighborhood physical disorder measured across childhood (ages 3 to 9) and early delinquency at age 9. Descriptive results (N = 2,989) indicate that exposure to neighborhood physical disorder across childhood is common among children in urban areas. Multivariate analyses suggest that exposure to neighborhood physical disorder, particularly for older children, is strongly associated with a higher likelihood of engagement in early delinquent behaviors, over and above family and census tract‐level measures of disadvantage. Associations remain robust to numerous supplementary analyses and alternate specifications.
Sociological Forum (2012)
Urban sociology has tended to study interactions between passersby and "street persons" with an emphasis on the ways street persons become bothersome, harassing, or dangerous. This article moves away from the focus on the ways interactions in public go awry and focuses on how individuals account for the mundane, everyday exchanges they have with strangers who seek their help. Based on interview data (N = 31) and qualitative analysis of data from an Internet survey (N = 110), this article suggests that the presence of beggars does not inherently symbolize urban decay to passersby and does not necessarily elicit anxiety, but instead provides a valuable texture of urban life. Further, the article argues that individuals, when justifying their responses to requests for help from needy persons (beggars) in urban spaces, use a variety of cultural strategies to maintain their perception of themselves as moral persons, both when they choose to help and when they refuse. Drawing from these findings, the article suggests that urban sociology and the sociology of risk would benefit from sensitizing their studies of public interactions to the diverse meanings individuals assign to them, rather than presupposing annoyance, anxiety, or fear as their predominant characteristic.