Sense of community (SOC) is associated with the quality of community life and the building of social capital. While its linkage to informal social behavior, such as neighboring, is inherent in discussions regarding theory, empirical evidence remains scarce. Moreover, the degree to which neighboring behavior influences SOC over time is largely unknown. Using a latent transition analysis, the effect of neighboring on SOC was investigated over a 5-year span from 2006 to 2011 among a sample of adults (n = 165) in Arizona. Initially, a latent class analysis identified two SOC subgroups: Low SOC and High SOC. The likelihood of shifts in SOC class membership over 5 years was generally stable, with most individuals staying in the same group (82.3% Low SOC; 92.4% High SOC). Neighboring behavior and socio-demographic covariates impacted the likelihood that individuals changed classes, with 25.3% of Low SOC individuals transitioning to High SOC in 2011 and 55.4% of High SOC individuals moving to Low SOC in 2011. Specifically, having an income greater than $60,000 and visiting with neighbors lessened the likelihood of being in the Low SOC class in 2006; and length of residence and exchanging favors with neighbors lessened the likelihood of being in the Low SOC class in 2011. These findings have implications for both community design and community development practice. Design and development interventions that promote greater social interaction may help build and sustain SOC over time.
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Thanks to Kelli Larson and Marcia Nation at Arizona State University for their knowledge and time regarding the PASS survey and dataset.
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Ross, A., Talmage, C.A. & Searle, M. The Impact of Neighboring on Changes in Sense of Community Over Time: A Latent Transition Analysis. Soc Indic Res 149, 327–345 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-019-02242-5
- Sense of community
- Latent transition analysis
- Latent class analysis