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From the Ground Up:
Translating Geography into Community through Neighbor Networks
Rick Grannis

Hardcover | 2009 | $52.50 | £44.95 | ISBN: 9780691140254
288 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 43 line illus. 32 tables.
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Where do neighborhoods come from and why do certain resources and effects--such as social capital and collective efficacy--bundle together in some neighborhoods and not in others? From the Ground Up argues that neighborhood communities emerge from neighbor networks, and shows that these social relations are unique because of particular geographic qualities. Highlighting the linked importance of geography and children to the emergence of neighborhood communities, Rick Grannis models how neighboring progresses through four stages: when geography allows individuals to be conveniently available to one another; when they have passive contacts or unintentional encounters; when they actually initiate contact; and when they engage in activities indicating trust or shared norms and values.

Seamlessly integrating discussions of geography, household characteristics, and lifestyle, Grannis demonstrates that neighborhood communities exhibit dynamic processes throughout the different stages. He examines the households that relocate in order to choose their neighbors, the choices of interactions that develop, and the exchange of beliefs and influence that impact neighborhood communities over time. Grannis also introduces and explores two geographic concepts--t-communities and street islands--to capture the subtle features constraining residents' perceptions of their environment and community.

Basing findings on thousands of interviews conducted through door-to-door canvassing in the Los Angeles area as well as other neighborhood communities, From the Ground Up reveals the different ways neighborhoods function and why these differences matter.


"Grannis provides neighborhood effects researchers with an important set of conceptual tools for studying and understanding the processes that shape both the lives of neighborhood residents and the strength and efficacy of the communities they form."--Liam Downey, American Journal of Sociology

"While I heartily recommend this book to my colleagues in geography, spatial analysis, and travel behavior, it should be of great interest to researchers in the sociology of communities as well."--Antonio Paez, Journal of Children and Poverty

"Grannis makes some major contributions in this work. . . . It is remarkable that the writing is not dull; in fact, Grannis captivates the reader with succinct, palpable writing (not in the least verbose) showcasing stories pertaining to his neighborhood data collection and using descriptive figures to summarize data. The reader cannot help but be drawn in to the text, seeing what Grannis describes."--Kyle M. Woosnam, Community Development


"This engaging book usefully articulates the geographic constraints on the formation of neighboring relations and the centrality of child-related activities to neighboring. It presents data from innovative empirical research and will interest those working in community and urban studies."--Peter V. Marsden, Harvard University

"With insight, Grannis conceptualizes neighborhoods as a chain of networks that form along predictable geographic boundaries linking local residents to one another. The data collected is extraordinarily rich and unique."--George E. Tita, University of California, Irvine

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