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Using Feminist Geography to Understand Feelings of Safety and Neighborhood Image

Author: STACI ZAVATTARO
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 42 No. 2

Healthy neighborhoods come about via a confluence of factors, including but not limited to walkability, public spaces, feelings of safety, sense of community, and neighborhood reputation. While this research set out to understand why people choose their neighborhoods, a deeper pattern emerged related to feelings of safety, especially for women, and neighborhood reputation. This paper uses feminist geography as a critical lens to understand how power relations often exacerbate negative perceptions of safety and, as such, negative perceptions of a neighborhood’s community health. Feminist geography as a lens has practical implications based on these findings for how urban planners and administrators design public spaces. Findings are based on a content analysis of interviews with 75 people throughout the U.S. Stories highlight how feelings of safety could affect neighborhood image and reputation.
Keywords: feminist geography; community health; qualitative methods; branding

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