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The Persistence of Neighboring as a Determinant of Community Attachment: A Community Field Perspective


  • We would like to thank Terry L. Besser for sharing the data utilized in this study. The 1994 data were gathered with funding from the Rural Development Initiative of the Iowa State University Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. The 2004 data were gathered with funding from USDA, National Research Initiative grant # 2003-35401-13828. We are also grateful to the many anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments and insight on earlier drafts. Direct correspondence to Daniel R. Sundblad, Department of Social Sciences, Wartburg College, 100 Wartburg Blvd, Waverly, Iowa 50677-0903, USA. Email:


We examined the community field perspective as a complement to the linear-development and systemic models of community attachment, wherein community attachment is defined as a social bond to the community of place. We empirically evaluated indicators of the actor's interaction within the social field, such as the perceived quality of neighboring and density of friendships, using social survey and census data from 99 communities in 1994 and 2004 and evaluated as well the percentage change in these indicators from 1994 to 2004. Results show that the community field perspective can complement previous approaches by highlighting the importance of perceived neighboring and friendship density and the persistence of perceived neighboring over time. We suggest implications for community development efforts aimed at enhancing community attachment.