The Death of Neighborhoods

In the same vein that Robert Putnam explored decaying community and social capital in American in his work, Bowling Alone, Brian Bethune discusses how the decay of Western communities shapes our health and political realms.

August 13, 2014, 6:00 AM PDT

By Maayan Dembo @DJ_Mayjahn


Model Neighborhood

J Aaron Farr / Flickr

As Brian Bethune reports in Maclean's, many studies have shown we are disconnected with our neighbors more and more. Indeed, "more than 30 per cent of Canadians now say they feel disconnected from their neighbours, while half of Americans admit they don’t know the names of theirs. A recent poll of 2,000 Britons found a third declaring they couldn’t pick their near neighbours out of a police lineup."

This lack of neighborhood is detrimental for our health, according to Susan Pinker, citing research that shows how quality face-to-face contact "fortifies immune systems, calibrates hormones and increases chances of surviving heart attacks, strokes, AIDS and cancer." With this neighborly disconnect the "modern definition of a good neighbour is no longer someone who is part of your life, someone you chat with over the fence, a reliable shoulder in good times and bad, but someone who doesn’t bother you, either in your enjoyment of your home or by threatening its property value", comments Bethune.

Bethune goes on to discuss how American neighborhoods are now homogenized "not by ethnicity but by income, lifestyle and, above all, attitude," and Canadian neighborhoods more and more reflect political party lines, especially in urban areas.

Friday, August 8, 2014 in Maclean's

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