Sense of community in neighborhoods as a multi-level construct

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Sense of community is a compelling construct that allows psychologists to examine fundamental questions about how individuals are connected to and influenced by their most important social settings. This investigation uses an existing database of 2,409 residents of 21 neighborhoods in a Northeastern city to examine sense of community at the neighborhood level. The investigation used a cross-levels program to examine whether sense of community can be detected at the neighborhood level. The investigation also tested the strength of the relationship of both neighborhood-level variables (i.e., physical attributes and presence of a grassroots neighborhood association) and individual-level variables (i.e., income and education) on neighborhood-level sense of community. Residents of the same neighborhood were more similar to one another than to residents of a different neighborhood on both the neighborhood-related variables and income and education. When variance attributable to the personal resources of income and education were removed, intraclass correlations for neighborhood-related attitudes (i.e., perceptions of neighborhood climate and perceptions of the ability of neighborhood residents to influence neighborhood conditions) remained significant at an alpha level of .05. However, neighborhood-related behavior (i.e., neighboring behavior and participation in a community organization) was no more similar to residents of the same neighborhood than to residents of a different neighborhood. Neither the presence of a grassroots neighborhood association nor the physical characteristics.

Publication Title

Journal of Community Psychology