Home Institution

University of Washington - Seattle Campus

Publication Date

Spring 2006

Program Name

Southern Cone: Regional Integration, Development and Social Change


In the past 15 years, the metropolitan region of Buenos Aires (RMBA) has experienced the phenomenon of the massive development of hundreds of gated communities outside the city center (Capital Federal). This has been due to a perceived decrease in the quality of life within the city center by many middle to upper class residents, and a rising sensation of insecurity and fear within the open urban environment. The search for a more safe and secure setting as well as a higher quality of life has led many of these residents to flee the city for the enclosed environments of the gated urbanizations, or urbanizaciones cerradas. The purpose of this paper is to explore the social segregation that results from the affluent of Buenos Aires walling themselves off from the rest of the city, to identify certain residents sensations of insecurity and fear of the open urban environment, and finally to observe how they construct perceptions of difference between themselves and those that live outside the gated communities. To accomplish this task, this paper first synthesizes information from a variety of academic sources that currently exist on the topic to create a historical and spatial contextualization of the phenomenon as well as to create a general outline of the concepts and theories that have been used to analyze it. The paper then goes on to describe and analyze the responses to 6 interviews, 3 of which were from residents of gated communities, and the other 3 of which were from individuals associated with the phenomenon, to determine if these specific actors conform to the theories and concepts presented by the academic literature. This paper concludes that although overall, blanket generalizations cannot be made about the perceptions of the residents of gated communities, some common themes do arise in their discourse regarding the sensation of insecurity in the open urban environment and their perceptions of difference.


Inequality and Stratification | Urban Studies and Planning


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