From the Ground Up: Translating Geography into Community through Neighbor Networks

From the Ground Up: Translating Geography into Community through Neighbor Networks

by Rick Grannis


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From the Ground Up: Translating Geography into Community through Neighbor Networks by Rick Grannis

Where do neighborhoods come from and why do certain resources and effects—such as social capital and collective efficacy—bundle together in some neighborhoods and not in others? From the Ground Up argues that neighborhood communities emerge from neighbor networks, and shows that these social relations are unique because of particular geographic qualities. Highlighting the linked importance of geography and children to the emergence of neighborhood communities, Rick Grannis models how neighboring progresses through four stages: when geography allows individuals to be conveniently available to one another; when they have passive contacts or unintentional encounters; when they actually initiate contact; and when they engage in activities indicating trust or shared norms and values.

Seamlessly integrating discussions of geography, household characteristics, and lifestyle, Grannis demonstrates that neighborhood communities exhibit dynamic processes throughout the different stages. He examines the households that relocate in order to choose their neighbors, the choices of interactions that develop, and the exchange of beliefs and influence that impact neighborhood communities over time. Grannis also introduces and explores two geographic concepts—t-communities and street islands—to capture the subtle features constraining residents' perceptions of their environment and community.

Basing findings on thousands of interviews conducted through door-to-door canvassing in the Los Angeles area as well as other neighborhood communities, From the Ground Up reveals the different ways neighborhoods function and why these differences matter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691140254
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/06/2009
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Rick Grannis is assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables ix

Prologue xv

CHAPTER ONE: Neighborhoods and Neighboring 1

Geography and Community 1

It's the Kids, Stupid! 4

Overview of the Book 8

CHAPTER TWO: The Stages of Neighboring 17

Neighboring: A Superposed Relation 17

Stage 1 Neighboring 20

Stage 2 Neighboring 20

Stage 3 Neighboring 23

Stage 4 Neighboring 25

Main Points in Review 27

CHAPTER THREE: Reconceptualizing Stage 1 Neighboring 28

Proximity 28

Boundaries 29

Face Blocks 31

Tertiary Face Blocks 32

Intersections 34

Main Points in Review 35

CHAPTER FOUR: Reconceptualizing Stage 1 Neighbor Networks 37

Layers of Complex Network Structures 37

T-Communities and Islands 42

Main Points in Review 46

CHAPTER FIVE: Selection and Influence 48

Selecting Homophilous Immediate Neighbors 48

Influence 52

Homophily and Influence Acting on Different Stages of Neighboring 56

Main Points in Review 57

CHAPTER SIX: Respondents, Interviews, and Other Data 59

Gang Neighborhood Ethnography and Interviews 60

Overview of the Other Data Collection Events 61

Structured Interviews 61

Cognitive Mapping and Alternatives 62

Data Collection in 68 Los Angeles Neighborhoods 65

Adaptive Link-Tracing 66

The Second Los Angeles Data Collection 67

College Town Census and Resample 68

Administrative Data 70

Main Points in Review 72

CHAPTER SEVEN: Selecting Stage 1 Neighbors 73

Selecting Racially Homophilous Tertiary Street Neighbors 73

Accepting Heterogenous Higher-Stage Neighbors 76

A Dialogue with Administrative Data 78

Segregating Tertiary Street Networks 79

Tertiary Street Network Borders 84

The Impact of a Single Tertiary Street Connection 89

Main Points in Review 90

CHAPTER EIGHT: Unintentional Encounters 93

The Substantive Reality of Passive Contacts 93

The "Lived" Experience of Tertiary Street Networks 96

A Note about Large, Multiunit Complexes 105

Main Points in Review 107

CHAPTER NINE: Stage 3 Neighbors and Tertiary Streets 109

Tertiary Street Proximity and Stage 3 Neighbors 109

Tertiary Street Networks and Stage 3 Neighbor Networks 113

More Than Proximity 119

Main Points in Review 127

CHAPTER TEN: The Importance of Neighbor Networks 129

Three Degrees of Neighboring 129

A Note about the Exhaustive Census 134

Neighboring Is a Family Relation 135

The Importance of Convenient Availability 139

Main Points in Review 144

CHAPTER ELEVEN: Network Influence Theory 148

Social Influence Network Theory 148

Beyond Density 151

The Horizon of Observability 155

Structural Cohesion 158

Merely a Mechanism? 159

Main Points in Review 161

CHAPTER TWELVE: Influence Networks in a College Town 162

T-Communities, Children, and the Horizon of Observability 162

T-Communities and Social Control 164

Neighbor Influence and T-Community Culture 166

Main Points in Review 176

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Influence Networks in a Gang Barrio 178

Geographic Neighborhood and Sociological Neighborhood 178

Neighborhood Community and Tertiary Street Networks 180

An Efficacious Neighborhood 182

Neighborhood Efficacy as a Function of Influence Networks 184

Influence Networks as a Function of Tertiary Street Networks 187

Main Points in Review 190

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Implications 192

Summary 192

What It All Means 197

APPENDIX: Survey Instrument 201

Notes 207

References 219

Index 237

What People are Saying About This


With insight, Grannis conceptualizes neighborhoods as a chain of networks that form along predictable geographic boundaries linking local residents to one another. The data collected is extraordinarily rich and unique.
George E. Tita, University of California, Irvine


This engaging book usefully articulates the geographic constraints on the formation of neighboring relations and the centrality of child-related activities to neighboring. It presents data from innovative empirical research and will interest those working in community and urban studies.
Peter V. Marsden, Harvard University

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