Date of Award
To understand the complexities involved with neighboring in public/private mixed-income communities, I conducted an ethnographic study of a HOPE VI site in a gentrifying neighborhood in New Orleans. Data was collected through 48 interviews, observation, mental maps, and casual encounters with residents living in the predominantly African American redeveloped St. Thomas Housing Development – renamed River Garden. I analyzed residents’ neighboring processes and how they socially constructed space, leading to the identification of several phenomena that shaped neighbor interaction in River Garden. As with previous HOPE VI neighborhood studies, within-group interaction was prevalent while cross-class interaction remained limited. Mechanisms that were intended to facilitate cross-class interaction were neutralized by the exertion of social control. Both limited mobility and neighborhood choice were factors that shaped residents’ perceptions of the neighborhood and motivated residents to either participate in the neighborhood as engaged residents or live as guarded residents dominated by constraints. I delineate the attributes of engaged residents to position neighborhood attachment as an important variable for neighbor interaction. Overall, the evidence illuminates class divisiveness among African American neighbors and demonstrates how the struggle for contested space creates a neighborhood filled with tension.
Owens, Kelly D., "The Social Construction of a Public/Private Neighborhood: Examining Neighbor Interaction and Neighborhood Meaning in a New Orleans Mixed-Income Development" (2012). University of New Orleans Theses and Dissertations. 1473.