A Framework for Exploring the Sense of Community and Social Life in Residential Environments

Leila Mahmoudi Farahani, Mirjana Lozanovska

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.26687/archnet-ijar.v8i3.412


Sense of community and social life are two key concepts related to social cohesion, which have been the subject of extensive studies in several disciplines including sociology, psychology and built environment. Social life studies have been mostly conducted in the built environment discipline focusing on city centres; while sense of community studies were mostly the target of sociologists and psychologists focusing on neighbourhoods. As a result, the role of the built environment on the sense of community and social life of neighbourhoods is considered as a missing gap in the literature. This paper, through defining the concepts of social life and sense of community, aims to develop a conceptual framework for further implementation in future research. Accurate implication and interpretation of the concepts show that neighbourhoods can include the sense of community in the residential environment and the social life in the commercial environment. This is because residential environments are where residents’ requirements can be met through their commitment to the community and commercial environments are the fulcrum of interaction and communication.


Neighbourhood; Sense of community; Social life; locality

Full Text:



Al-Hagla, K. (2008). Towards a sustainable neighborhood: The role of open spaces. International Journal of Architectural Research: ArchNet-IJAR, 2(2), 162-177.

Alexander, C. (1977). A pattern language : towns, buildings, construction. New York: Oxford University Press.

Amick, D., & Kviz, F. (1975). Social alienation in public housing: The effects of density and building types. Ekistics, 39(231), 118-120.

Anderson, B. (2006). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (New Edition): Verso.

Appleyard, D. (1980). Livable streets: Protected neighborhoods? The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 451(1), 106-117. doi: 10.1177/000271628045100111

Appleyard, D. (1981). Livable streets. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Audirac, I., & Shermyen, A. H. (1994). An evaluation of neotraditional design's social prescription: postmodern placebo or remedy for suburban malaise? Journal of Planning Education and Research, 13(3), 161-173.

Banerjee, T. K., & Baer, W. C. (1978). The use of the neighborhood concept in professional practice. Unpublished paper, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Bhat, R. (2014). Understanding complexity through pattern languages in biological and man-made architectures International Journal of Architectural Research: ArchNet-IJAR, 8(2).

Bianchini, F. (1999). The crisis of urban public social life in Britain: Origins. Planning Practice and Research.

Brower, S. N. (1996). Good neighborhoods: A study of in-town & suburban residential environments: Praeger Westport, CT.

Carr, S. (1992). Public space: Cambridge University Press.

Chermayeff, S. (1971). Shape of community : realization of human potential. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Chermayeff, S., & Alexander, C. (1966). Community and privacy: Toward a new architecture of humanism: Penguin.

Cochran, S. (1994). Defining, understanding, and enhancing sense of community in neighborhoods. Journal of Planning Literature, 9, 92-99.

Cooper Marcus, C., & Francis, C. (Eds.). (1998). People places : design guidelines for urban open space (2nd ed ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ewing, R., King, M. R., Raudenbush, S., & Clemente, O. J. (2005). Turning highways into main streets: Two innovations in planning methodology. Journal of the American Planning Association, 71(3), 269-282. doi: 10.1080/01944360508976698

Francaviglia, R. V. (1996). Main street revisited : Time, space, and image building in small-town America. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Francis, J., Giles-Corti, B., Wood, L., & Knuiman, M. (2012). Creating sense of community: The role of public space. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32(4), 401-409. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2012.07.002

Franck, K. A. (2005). Food for the city, Food in the city. Chichester: Wiley.

Franck, K. A., & Stevens, Q. (2007). Loose space : possibility and diversity in urban life. London: Routledge.

Gehl, J. (1980). Residential street environment. Building and Environment, 6(1), 51-61.

Gehl, J. (1987). Life between buildings: using public space: Island Press.

Gehl, J. (2010). Cities for people. Washington, DC: Island Press.

Gehl, J., & Gemzøe, L. (2001). New city spaces: The Danish Architectural Press Cph.

Gehl, J., & Gemzøe, L. (2004). Public spaces-public life: Arkitektens Forlag Kbh.

Glynn, T. J. (1986). Neighborhood and sense of community. Journal of community psychology, 14(4), 341-352.

Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), l.

Greenbaum, S. D. (1982). Bridging ties at the neighborhood level. Social Networks, 4(4), 367-384.

Henriksen, I. M., & Tjora, A. (2013). Interaction pretext: Experiences of community in the urban neighbourhood. Urban Studies. doi: 10.1177/0042098013505891

Jacobs, A. B. (1993). Great streets. London, England: MIT Press.

Jacobs, J. (1961). The death and life of great American cities: Vintage.

Kashef, M. (2009). Sense of community and residential space: contextualizing New Urbanism within a broader theoretical framework. ArchNet - IJAR: International journal of architectural research, 3(3), 80-97.

Kim, J. (2000). Creating community: Does the Kentlands live up to Its goals?[The promise of New Urbanism]. Places, 13(2).

Kim, J. (2001). Sense of community in neotraditional and conventional surburban developments: a comparative case study of Kentlands and Orchard Village: University of Michigan.

Kim, J. (2007). Perceiving and valuing sense of community in a New Urbanist development: A case study of Kentlands. Journal of Urban Design, 12(2), 203-230. doi: 10.1080/13574800701306286

Kim, J., & Kaplan, R. (2004). Physical and psychological factors in sense of community new urbanist Kentlands and nearby Orchard Village. Environment and Behavior, 36(3), 313-340.

Lagerfeld, S. (1995). What main street can learn from the mall. Atlantic-Boston, 276, 110-121.

Langdon, P. (1997). A better place to live: reshaping the American suburb: Univ of Massachusetts Press.

Lockwood, C. (1997). Putting the urb in the suburbs: Better late than never. PLANNING-CHICAGO-, 63, 18-21.

Lofland, L. H. (1989). Social life in the public realm: A review. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 17(4), 453-482. doi: 10.1177/089124189017004004

Lund, H. (2002). Pedestrian environments and sense of community. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 21(3), 301-312. doi: 10.1177/0739456x0202100307

Lund, H. (2003). Testing the claims of new urbanism: Local access, pedestrian travel, and neighboring behaviors. Journal of the American Planning Association, 69(4), 414-429.

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory. Journal of community psychology, 14(1), 6-23.

Mehta, V. (2007). Lively streets: Determining environmental characteristics to support social behavior. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 27(2), 165-187. doi: 10.1177/0739456x07307947

Mehta, V. (2008). Walkable streets: pedestrian behavior, perceptions and attitudes. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 1(3), 217-245. doi: 10.1080/17549170802529480

Mehta, V. (2009). Look closely and you will see, listen carefully and you will hear: Urban design and social interaction on streets. Journal of Urban Design, 14(1), 29-64. doi: 10.1080/13574800802452658

Mehta, V. (2013). The street : a quintessential social public space. Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY: Routledge.

Mehta, V., & Bosson, J. K. (2009). Third places and the social life of streets. Environment and Behavior, 42(6), 779-805. doi: 10.1177/0013916509344677

Montgomery, J. (1998). Making a city: Urbanity, vitality and urban design. Journal of Urban Design, 3(1), 93-116. doi: 10.1080/13574809808724418

Moustafa, Y. M. (2009). Design and neighborhood sense of community: An integrative and cross-culturally valid theoretical framework. ArchNet-IJAR, 3(1), 71-91.

Mullan, E. (2003). Do you think that your local area is a good place for young people to grow up? The effects of traffic and car parking on young people's views. Health Place, 9(4), 351-360.

Oldenburg, R. (Ed.). (2009). Celebrating the third place: Inspiring stories about the "great good places" at the heart of our communities. Chicago: Da Capo Press.

Orvell, M. (2009). Constructing main street: Utopia and the imagined past. Public Space and the Ideology of Place in American Culture, 3, 97.

Pendola, R., & Gen, S. (2008). Does "main street" promote sense of community? A comparison of San Francisco Neighborhoods. Environment & Behavior, 40(4), 545-574. doi: 10.1177/0013916507301399

Plas, J. M., & Lewis, S. E. (1996). Environmental factors and sense of community in a planned town. American Journal of Community Psychology, 24(1), 109-143. doi: 10.1007/BF02511884

Riger, S., & Lavrakas, P. J. (1981). Community ties: Patterns of attachment and social interaction in urban neighborhoods. American Journal of Community Psychology, 9(1), 55-66.

Robertson, K. A. (2004). The main street approach to downtown development: An examination of the four-point program. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 21(1), 55-73.

Ross, C. E., & Jang, S. J. (2000). Neighborhood disorder, fear, and mistrust: The buffering role of social ties with neighbors. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28(4), 401-420.

Sarason, S. B. (1974). The psychological sense of community: Prospects for a community psychology: Jossey-Bass.

Southworth, M. (2005). Reinventing main street: From mall to townscape mall. Journal of Urban Design, 10(2), 151-170. doi: 10.1080/13574800500087319

Sullivan, W. C. (2004). The fruit of urban nature: Vital neighborhood spaces. Environment and Behavior, 36(5), 678-700. doi: 10.1177/0193841x04264945

Talen, E. (1999). Sense of community and neighbourhood form: An assessment of the social doctrine of new urbanism. Urban Studies, 36(8), 1361-1379. doi: 10.1080/0042098993033

Talen, E. (2000). Measuring the public realm: A preliminary assessment of the link between public space and sense of community. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, 17(4), 344-360.

Talen, E. (2003). A matter of priorities: New Urbanism and community life. Places, 15(3), 77-80.

Unger, D. G., & Wandersman, A. (1985). The importance of neighbors: The social, cognitive, and affective components of neighboring. American Journal of Community Psychology, 13(2), 139-169.

Webber, M. M. (1963). Order in diversity: community without propinquity. Cities and space: The future use of urban land, 23-54.

Wellman, B., & Leighton, B. (1979). Networks, neighborhoods, and communities: approaches to the study of the community question. Urban Affairs Review, 14(3), 363-390. doi: 10.1177/107808747901400305

Whyte, W. H. (1980). The social life of small urban spaces. Washington, D.C.: Conservation Foundation.

Whyte, W. H. (1988). City : Rediscovering the center (1st ed ed.). New York: Doubleday.

Wolshon, B., & Wahl, J. (1999). Novi's main street: Neotraditional neighborhood planning and design. Journal of urban planning and development, 125(1), 2-16.

Wood, L., Frank, L. D., & Giles-Corti, B. (2010). Sense of community and its relationship with walking and neighborhood design. Soc Sci Med, 70(9), 1381-1390. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.01.021


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 International Journal of Architectural Research: ArchNet-IJAR


- ISSN (Online) #1938 7806 - ArchNet-IJAR is covered by ArchNet@ MIT Libraries, Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, EBSCO, CNKI, Pro-Quest, Scopus-Elsevier, Web of Science.

- Published work in ArchNet-IJAR is licensed under Creative Commons: CC-BY--NC-ND license, see http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

Copyrights © Archnet-IJAR 2007-2018


Hit Counter
Visitor Hits Since 15 Jan 2014