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Social Quality of Life in High-Density Built Environments

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This knowledge synthesis reflects the current state of research on social quality of life in higher-density households and communities, in the context of the risks and realities of the Emerging Asocial Society. We review international research related to the characteristics of built form and high-density urban living that affect the state of social connections, social capital, social cohesion, and related aspects of social quality of life. In addition, from our review of grey literature and our work within the Hey Neighbour Collective, we examine policy experiments and opportunities as well as areas in need of additional research.

Our review uncovered evidence of associations between aspects of social quality of life and specific demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of individuals and households. These characteristics and their effects intersect other factors such as housing status and structure, governance, housing, and built environment design, management and maintenance. Also, residents’ personality types, the way that they distinguish themselves from others, their sense of personal agency, private and personal freedom, play important roles. Social comparisons and distinctions are used to differentiate neighbours and groups in a range of ways that compound the complexity of improving social quality of life when people with diverse identities, backgrounds, and aspirations live together in high-density built environments. We conclude that promoting and planning for neighbourly social connections in high-density environments can make a significant contribution to housing, health, and social policy goals that will counter the trends of an Emerging Asocial Society.
This report was prepared with the assistance of leaders of the Hey Neighbour Collective, including Michelle Hoar and Stacy Barter, and other researchers and participants, including Sarah van Baarsen, Robyn Lee, Lainey Martin, Sara Emami, Dorin Mahdavi, Callista Ottoni, Sydney Boulton, Niloofar Hedayatti, Sogol Haji Hosseini, and Rojan Nasiri.
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Social Quality of Life in High-Density Built Environments. Knowledge Synthesis for the Emerging Asocial Society
SImon Fraser University
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