Behind the Gates: Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America / Edition 1

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First Published in 2003. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Provocative and disturbing, this much-needed book holds up an unsparing mirror to an unsettling sign of our times." - The New York Times
The New York Times
Apart from their more obviously exclusionary aspects, Low finds gated communities insidiously antidemocratic and antisocial because they play into the increasing privatization of all aspects of our society. Many municipal services are now provided by homeowners' associations rather than local government, removing accountability from publicly elected officials. Provocative and disturbing, this much-needed book holds up an unsparing mirror to an unsettling sign of our times. — Martin Filler
The Washington Post
The not inconsiderable irony is that, as Low quite conclusively demonstrates, the "vigilance necessary to maintain these 'purified communities' actually heightens residents' anxiety and sense of isolation rather than making them feel safer." Inside the gates people may feel relatively safe, and they let their children play outdoors with relatively little concern for their safety, but the fear remains. The "internal freedom" of the gated community "comes at a high social and psychological cost," particularly -- or so there is reason to believe -- for children. — Jonathan Yardley
Library Journal
Why do people move to private gated communities, and what does this mean for the enclave within the gates and for the larger society without? Inspired by an awkward visit to her sister's high-security home, Low (environmental psychology, CUNY), author of several books on the psychology of place, began to study gated communities in Long Island, San Antonio, and Mexico City. She combines field observations, interviews with residents, and personal reflection to create an unusual combination of academic research and creative nonfiction. Her interviewees are overall satisfied with their residential choices, citing security and safety, control over neighborhood composition, resale value, and reduced home maintenance workload. However, they are frequently disappointed by the lack of a sense of community. Low is highly critical of the sociocultural impacts of gating and challenges many claims about gated communities, including the beliefs that they reduce crime and replicate close-knit neighborhoods remembered from childhood. A related title is Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder's Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States (Brookings, 1997). Recommended for undergraduate and large public libraries and for urban planning collections.-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington Libs., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415950411
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/30/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader; Housing, Culture, and Design; Cultural Spaces; and Place Attachment.

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
Ch. 1 Unlocking the Gated Community 7
Ch. 2 Arriving at the Gates 27
Ch. 3 Searching for Community 53
Ch. 4 Re-creating the Past 73
Ch. 5 Protecting the Children and Safety for All 93
Ch. 6 Fear of Crime 111
Ch. 7 Fear of Others 133
Ch. 8 Niceness and Property Values 153
Ch. 9 Private Governance, Taxes, and Moral Minimalism 175
Ch. 10 Easing the Way to Retirement 199
Ch. 11 Don't Fence Me In 219
App. 1: Methods 233
App. 2 Residential History Interview Schedule 237
Notes 241
Bibliography 251
Index 263
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