A recent study published in the Journal of the American Planning Association sheds light on the connection between our patterns of movement and what we have in common with our neighbors. Urban planning researchers Michael Smart, of Rutgers, and Nicholas Klein, of the Pratt Institute, examined how people who live in neighborhoods bound by social ties and a common identity travel differently from most city residents.
To get at this, the researchers looked at the example of “gayborhoods,” examining how gay men who live in neighborhoods with lots of other gay men travel, and what the effects of these patterns are on the neighborhood as a whole and all of its residents, straight as well as gay.
They used data on the number of same-sex couples living in each neighborhood from the 2005-9 American Community Survey and compared that to responses from the nationwide 2009 National Household Travel Survey. They then compared the daily travel patterns and distances of residents – focusing on members of straight and gay couples – to the proportion of same-sex couples living in their census tract. They hypothesized that gay men living in more densely clustered gay neighborhoods would have stronger social ties and networks, and thus far more geographically bounded social worlds.
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