How urbanites define their neighborhoods

Avery M. Guest, Barrett A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


This paper explores the ways that residents of the Seattle metropolitan region define "neighborhood" in the abstract and their own neighborhoods in particular. On the whole, the neighborhood is regarded as a relatively limited unit, both in terms of areal size and functional relevance. Two major dimensions of neighborhood definition are evident. Individuals tend to define neighborhood primarily in terms of either human interaction or pure space, and they also differ in their views on its geographic size and institutional development. The two dimensions of definition are shown to vary with patterns of local activity, social-demographic characteristics, and the physical environment. While only a small proportion of the variation in responses is explained, the results suggest that neighborhood definitions are rational responses to the social and physical position of the respondent within urban society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-56
Number of pages25
JournalPopulation and Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1984

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)


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