Thursday, September 8, 2011

Community Boundaries

Communities experience different types of separations for many reasons. Whether the boundaries are natural, like a river, manmade, like a highway, or social, like income, community boundaries are necessary. These boundaries allow communities to function as individual units within their greater area or state. In my opinion, one of the greatest factors in delineating boundaries is socioeconomic status. Though it is often an uncomfortable topic within communities and the greater population as a whole, socioeconomic status has a role in every person’s life. Including such factors as education, occupation and income, it is not difficult to grasp why socioeconomic status is vital in determining the boundaries between communities.

On a large scale, socioeconomic status plays a role in determining what state a person can live in. Some states are much more expensive to live in than others. One must consider the cost of living in relation to their socioeconomic status when deciding where to live. From there, one must choose what community best suits their financial capacity. As was made evident by the recent downturn in the housing market, living beyond one’s means is not advisable. Therefore, community boundaries are predominantly delineated by who can afford to live in certain places. For example, in Virginia, the closer you live to Washington D.C. the higher the cost of living. It is no coincidence that the towns in southern Virginia are much smaller and focused towards an agrarian lifestyle. The cost of living in southern Virginia is significantly less than in northern Virginia. On the other hand, though, the communities of southern Virginia experience far less discrepancy in socioeconomic status. The southern communities tend to be on a level playing field with money, while the north has very rich and very poor people existing in neighboring communities.

It is because of the limiting quality of socioeconomic status that individuals of comparable means tend to live in communities together. There are several factors within the category of socioeconomic status that must be accounted for when observing community boundaries. Presumably individuals of a community have similar backgrounds in education, hold similar jobs, and have similar incomes. Furthermore, the community in which one lives as an adult is most likely reminiscent of where one lived as a child. In other words, the socioeconomic status to which you were born will probably remain the same throughout your life. Humans tend to be comforted by what is familiar, a quality that feeds the desire to surround ourselves with what we know. On the most basic level, keeping the delineation of community boundaries in mind, people are most comfortable living with others of the same socioeconomic status. Therefore, assessing the status required to live in any community easily draws boundaries between them.

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