Communities Are People, Not Just Places

Richard Florida speaks with sociologist Zachary Neal, author of The Connected City, a new book that examines the essential role that social networks play in defining community.

"Community" is a squishy topic bandied about much too casually in contemporary discourse on urbanism without adequate definition. Is community defined by arbitrary geographic or political boundaries? Is it defined by a shared belief system?

In an interview with Richard Florida, Neal touches upon some of the themes examined in his new book, The Connected City, in which he defines communities as networks, rather than places. "We often think of communities in place–based terms, like Jane Jacobs' beloved Greenwich Village," he says. "But, whether or not a place like Greenwich Village is really a community has more to do with the residents' relationships with one another - their social networks – than with where they happen to live or work."

"A neighborhood where the residents never interact is merely a place," says Neal, "but hardly a community....Communities aren't disappearing, but to find them we need to stop looking in places, and start looking in social networks."

Full Story: Communities Aren't Just Places, They're Social Networks

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