Behind the Gates: Life, Security, and the Pursuit of Happiness in Fortress America

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Taylor & Francis, Apr 25, 2003 - Social Science - 288 pages
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In the last twenty years, thousands upon thousands of the upper and middle classes have retreated into gated communities. In 2002 it is estimated that one in eight Americans will live in these exclusive neighborhoods. What has sparked this alarming trend?
"Behind the Gates" is Low's revealing account of what life is like inside these suburban fortresses. After years researching and interviewing families in Long Island, New York and San Antonio, Texas, Low provides an inside view of gated communities to help explain why people flee to these enclaves. Parents with children, young married couples, "empty-nesters," and retirees express their need for safety, their secret fears of a more ethnically diverse America, and their desire to recapture the close-knit, picket-fenced communities of their childhood. Ironically, she shows, gated neighborhoods are in fact no safer than other suburbs, and many who move there are disheartened by the insularity and restrictive rules of the community.
Low probes thehopes, dreams, and fears of her subjects to portray the subtle change in American middle-class values marked by the emergence of enclosed communities in the suburbs.

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Behind the gates: life, security, and the pursuit of happiness in fortress America

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Why do people move to private gated communities, and what does this mean for the enclave within the gates and for the larger society without? Inspired by an awkward visit to her sister's high-security ... Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Setha Low is Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including Theorizing the City: The New Urban Anthropology Reader; Housing, Culture, and Design; Cultural Spaces; and Place Attachment.

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