Where, When, Why, and for Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects

Posted: 3 Aug 2014

See all articles by Patrick Sharkey

Patrick Sharkey

New York University (NYU)

Jacob Faber

NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service ; Princeton University - Department of Sociology

Date Written: July 2014

Abstract

The literature on neighborhood effects frequently is evaluated or interpreted in relation to the question, “Do neighborhoods matter?” We argue that this question has had a disproportionate influence on the field and does not align with the complexity of theoretical models of neighborhood effects or empirical findings that have arisen from the literature. In this article, we focus on empirical work that considers how different dimensions of individuals' residential contexts become salient in their lives, how contexts influence individuals' lives over different timeframes, how individuals are affected by social processes operating at different scales, and how residential contexts influence the lives of individuals in heterogeneous ways. In other words, we review research that examines where, when, why, and for whom do residential contexts matter. Using the large literature on neighborhoods and educational and cognitive outcomes as an example, the research we review suggests that any attempt to reduce the literature to a single answer about whether neighborhoods matter is misguided. We call for a more flexible study of context effects in which theory, measurement, and methods are more closely aligned with the specific mechanisms and social processes under study.

Suggested Citation

Sharkey, Patrick and Faber, Jacob, Where, When, Why, and for Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects (July 2014). Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 40, pp. 559-579, 2014, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2475578 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043350

Patrick Sharkey (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
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Jacob Faber

NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
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New York, NY 10012
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.jacobfaber.com/

Princeton University - Department of Sociology ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

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