Changes in the morphology of urban residential space are evinced by a fragmentation that seems to mimic the spatiality of social class. At the hub of this transformation is the emergence of gated communities in middle and upscale neighbourhoods across the Kingston Metropolitan Area. Their recent proliferation reflects the ways in which the urban landscape has been encoded by a discourse of fear which is intrinsically linked to other features of the physical and social environment. By creating a selectively permeable boundary residents in these spaces have attempted to exclude difference through the economic and, in some instances, social investment in measures of defense. Relying on a survey of over 200 households, this paper presents the findings of research conducted on residents in gated communities. Hinging on a combination of both social and structural variables (demography, personal attributes, victimization history and the physical and social characteristics of the community), it attempts to situate the correlates of fear in the gated community by investigating its varied expression. While age displayed minimal direct association with fear; gender, victimization history and the experience of community at the physical and social level was found to have implications on the perception of safety. Some of these variables also contributed to the affirmation of an identity with place which was important in consolidation of social capital and, in turn, served to mitigate fear. The results indicate that a geography of fear is ascribed by combination of the aforementioned factors which act in concert, but with varying impact, to determine the nature and extent of fear both within and beyond the bounded space.
Supervisor: Dr. David Dodman