Katharine Grayson reported a while ago in the Chicago Journal about a survey on “social capital”:http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/saguaro/primer.htm in Bucktown and Schaumburg. Actually, my household participated in the research; I got a letter and my brother did the phone interview.
Curt VanderWaal, a professor of social work at Andrews, said one quote, offered by a 40-year resident in a telephone interview, seemed to sum up that finding: “The whole neighborhood identity is changing. That’s a challenge. It’s not like a neighborhood that has to deal with a lot of crime. The larger issue here is economic and cultural identity.” […]
She did note, however, that residents in Bucktown are also more open to having affordable housing built in their neighborhood than their Schaumburg counterparts, though only about a quarter strongly agreed that it was necessary.
What is somewhat surprising about the study, however, noted VanderWaal, is that residents of Schaumburg are just as happy—if not more pleased—with their neighborhood than Bucktowners. There are, of course, some key demographic differences, he said, including that the suburban residents are more likely to own their home and have lived in the neighborhood longer. They also have more children. However, he said, they also are more likely to believe that their neighborhood is tight knit.
What’s also important to note, however, is that Bucktown residents are more likely to spend a social evening with their neighbors—and have friends that live just a few blocks away.
It’s an undergraduate project, to be sure, but the two neighborhoods differ in so many ways that it’s difficult to impute any differences found to one factor or another (notably neighborhood form, which they mentioned — several Andrews professors have admirable New Urbanist inclinations). One confounding factor is governance, notably with regard to schools. It would be far more prudent to have chosen two neighborhoods within the same municipality: say, comparing “old” Wheaton or Naperville with new subdivisions a mile or two away, or maybe more interestingly, someplace like historic Kenwood with modernist Prairie Shores.