Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States

Academic journal article Journal of American & Comparative Cultures

Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States

Article excerpt

Fortress America: Gated Communities in the United States. Edward J. Blakely and Mary Gail Snyder. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 1997.

Fortress America explains the ever-increasing popularity of gated communities in the United States. The authors also describe the different forms which gated communities take and their origins. Despite their differences, gated communities share common roots in fear of the "other."

The authors, both specialists in urban and regional planning, begin by describing the history of gated communities. Next, they develop a taxonomy of gated communities: the recreation-oriented "Lifestyle Community," the upper-income "Prestige Community," and the barricaded "Security Zone Community." Throughout, the authors analyze the nature of "community" in each area, although they do not define it.

The authors conducted interviews with residents of several gated communities throughout the United States, asking about the reasons for moving there, and the level of community involvement in local politics. The authors also conducted a massive survey of community associations. Despite their contention that there are as many as "20,000 gated communities in the United States," and that "they are increasing rapidly in number in all regions and price classes," the authors limit their analysis and examples to sunbelt communities. I do not question the accuracy of their conclusions, but these conclusions would be stronger if communities from a broader geographical area had been more explicitly included in the study.

Although the authors argue that residents of gated communities move there (or create them) for a variety of reasons, it seems that fear dominates all three types of communities. …

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