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Loss Of The Neighborhood, Ties To The Neighborhood, Effects Of Violent Neighborhoods, Neighborhood Programs And Policies

The definition of neighborhood includes a territorially organized population with common ties and social interaction. It is a group of people living within a specific area, sharing common bonds, interacting with one another, and often having a common cultural and historical heritage (Lyon 1999). The amount and quality of the ties and interaction among those living in the neighborhood varies with each community. The basis of the common ties can include family, ethnicity, proximity, school, social class, or religion, yet the depth of these bonds ranges from considerable involvement to disassociation with the neighborhood (Lyon 1999).

Neighborhoods are as varied and different as people, yet throughout the world a common theme can be found with people living in and identifying with the neighborhood. Examples of this can be found in immigrant neighborhoods in the United States (i.e., China Town, Little Italy, Spanish Harlem), inner-city neighborhoods in overcrowded downtown areas, shantytowns in developing countries, wealthy gated communities, and the suburbs. In Mexico, along the U.S.–Mexican border, neighborhoods have sprung up rapidly due to the maquiladoras program—an enterprise area of multinational corporations with factories that employ cheap labor and hope to increase industrial development within the country (Macionis and Parrillo 2001). As the types of neighborhoods are varied, the roles that neighborhoods fulfill also differ.

The neighborhood plays an important role in the lives of families and children. A neighborhood that has strong ties and a supportive system can benefit the family, while a neighborhood without a network system, connection to others, or available programs can be detrimental to the family. The ecological model of human development (Bronfenbrenner 1977) is an approach that focuses on families' and children's behavior within a social context. This model examines the design of physical space, the roles and relationships of other people to the family and children in the setting, and the activities in which the family and child are involved in the neighborhood. The overall level of organization within a neighborhood and community directly affects the level of integration of families and the stress levels of family life. The neighborhoods can have a powerful role in serving as a family support system, relieving the stress of social isolation, reinforcing group values, providing resources, and even connecting families to professionals and referrals to programs (Garbarino and Kostelny 1992). Although the role of the neighborhood is integral to the well being of families and children, some have experienced a loss of neighborhood connections.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaModern Marriage & Family Issues