Americans are good neighbors but have little interaction, knowledge

A Chicago Tribune article juxtaposes two survey findings regarding Americans acting as neighbors:

A 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found that fewer than half of Americans know most or all of their neighbors, and nearly one-third said they know none by name.

While 92 percent of Americans consider themselves to be good neighbors, 56 percent said that they interact very little with their neighbors, according to a 2013 study by Nextdoor, a San Francisco-based social network for neighborhoods.

That goes along with the fact that 56 percent of people believe that being a good neighbor means you should be respectful of personal space or boundaries, the Nextdoor study found.

While a good neighbor may be a quiet, unobtrusive neighbor, a really good neighbor is a friendly one, said Nextdoor spokeswoman Kelsey Grady.

This could be chalked up partly to the tendency to overrate one’s own skills – like most Americans saying they are above average drivers. But, it also fights nicely with the argument of The Moral Order of a Suburb. Baumgartner finds that suburbanites got along by staying out of the lives of others and avoiding public conflict. Whereas a traditional understanding of community requires consistent interaction and long-standing relationships, suburban residents have community marked by private lives and transience. If conflict arises, the community spirit is lost (see recent examples here and here). Thus, one can be a good neighbor by not knowing the neighbors, not provoking any sort of conflict, and retreating to the private space of the housing unit and/or yard.

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