From the same journal

From the same journal

An economy of false securities? An analysis of murders inside gated residential developments in the US

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Rowland Graham Atkinson
  • Oliver Smith


Publication details

DatePublished - Aug 2012
Issue number2
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)162-173
Original languageEnglish


The move to gated communities has been linked to both rising affluence and anxiety. These attempts to withdraw from the perceived dangers of urban areas are also predicated on the pursuit of a neighbourhood ideal, and freedom from danger is usually central to this ideal. This paper critically reconsiders these propositions by examining news reports and media narratives surrounding the nature of homicidal violence occurring within such developments. We have analysed fifty news reports from the last decade that address murder committed inside gated communities. In our analysis of these reports we suggest that attempts to neutralise danger in high crime societies are by no means guaranteed—even via the most strenuous efforts at deploying walls, gates and guards. Building on the arguments of Low (2003) and Zedner (2003), we suggest that demands for security are not only unending but that an outward-facing orientation that positions risk outside gated neighbourhoods is a denial of the continued danger of intimate and other forms of violence within communities and households behind gates. In this context the move to enclosure is more than a pragmatic attempt to defend against threat; it appears to reflect the impotence of efforts associated with addressing deep ontological insecurities. Studies continue to record high levels of fear in gated developments, and highly gendered risks of violence continue to be a part of the social reality of the segregated neighbourhood.

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