Architectural sociology approach to why Las Vegas residents don’t know their neighbors

Sociologists looking at why Las Vegas residents don’t know their neighbors explain that the design of their newer subdivisions are partly to blame:

“So that means squeezing a lot of houses into small lots, and it also means an architectural design in many cases that doesn’t facilitate the flow of people,” UNLV sociology professor Robert Futrell said.In 2010, UNLV professors conducted a survey of neighborhoods and people living throughout the Valley. They found that communities built after the construction boom of the 1990s include narrow streets, concrete walls, short driveways and few front porches. All of these things impede social interaction.

“While many developers have tried to create these master-planned communities to be high-functioning, high-interacting neighborhoods, many of them are not working that way,” Batson said.

Professors point to neighborhoods with short driveways as an example. People drive up to their homes, open the garage and drive in without talking to anyone.

The article goes on to say that residents in these communities truly do want to interact with their neighbors. But, design holds them back.

Is it completely the fault of design? The beginning of the article also notes that Las Vegas has many transient residents. If it is truly the design, we should be able to look at neighborhoods with different designs and measure higher levels of social interaction. Is this what we actually find? New Urbanists argue it is all about designing neighborhoods in a traditional way but they don’t as often bring up the data that would show the neighborhoods do what they say they should do. Other might counter that even with some better home design, people are still distracted from social interaction because of cars, air conditioning, television, the Internet, and more.

Another thought: would the residents of these new neighborhoods be willing to trade the size of their homes or the interior features of their homes for some more neighborly features?

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