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Technically TogetherReconstructing Community in a Networked World$
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Taylor Dotson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036382

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036382.001.0001

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Suburban Networks and Urban Villages: Community and the Built Environment

Suburban Networks and Urban Villages: Community and the Built Environment

(p.63) 4 Suburban Networks and Urban Villages: Community and the Built Environment
Technically Together

Taylor Dotson

The MIT Press

This chapter interrogates the built environment with respect to its compatibility with thick community. Echoing and extending the analyses of Jane Jacobs and Ray Oldenburg, it is argued that much of the urban environment in technological societies – from suburban sprawl to urban renewal high rises – effectively legislates that citizens live as networked individuals. Not only does the coarse graining of these spaces functionally segregate different facets of everyday life, they ensure that social ties are diffuse and single-threaded. Their lack of appropriate density and walkable amenities limits serendipitous interactions and other activities that support the growth of place-based social connection. Moreover, their poor affordances for “third places” such as pubs and cafes limits the sociability of most neighborhoods. Finally, the governance structures of most areas is either weakly democratic, unable to support constructive ways of working through conflict, or not scaled so as to match the physical boundaries of urban communities.

Keywords:   Urban form, Third places, Walkability, Jane Jacobs, Ray Oldenburg, Coarse grained urbanity, Democratic governance

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