Redefining civic responsibility: the role of homeowner associations and neighborhood identity

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Redefining civic responsibility: the role of homeowner associations and neighborhood identity

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Title: Redefining civic responsibility: the role of homeowner associations and neighborhood identity
Author: Huyler, Mark (Mark Douglas)
Abstract: This dissertation examines the relationship between civic responsibility and homeowner associations. The dramatic increase in homeowner associations is theorized as part of a societal shift toward a more private and smaller scale of civic responsibility. Both the role of neighborhood identity and the role of the provision of neighborhood services by homeowner associations in establishing an individual's sense of civic responsibility are analyzed. The research was conducted in homeowner associations in Redmond, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Forty case-study associations are examined based on interviews and surveys with board members. In addition, election results for a series of ballot issues related to issues of civic responsibility are compared with the location of homeowner associations.The results of this research do not support the claim within the literature that homeowner associations are related to a smaller scale of civic responsibility. There is no indication that homeowner association members have a different sense of civic responsibility for most issues. This research suggests that there is more support for the private provision of only the particular services offered by homeowner associations. For example, if a homeowner association funds a private park then the residents in that association are more likely to support neighborhood versus government funding for such parks. Homeowner associations do increase the importance of the neighborhood over the individual in decisions regarding the maintenance and use of property. Because the primary motivation for homeowner associations is to maintain the property values in the neighborhood by maintaining the perceived quality of the neighborhood, residents attach significant importance to the neighborhood. Homeowner associations use social pressure, in addition to legal authority, to maintain a quality neighborhood identity based on uniform and stable property values. These efforts to maintain the quality of the neighborhood in this manner reinforce economic and social segregation in these suburban neighborhoods.This research challenges the theoretical understanding of the relationship between homeowner associations and civic responsibility. Homeowner association members do not appear to have a more private or local sense of civic responsibility compared to residents in other neighborhoods.
Description: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Washington, 1997
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1773/5675

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