Where does your preference for living lie? Are you an urban, suburb or rural dweller? Do you currently live in an urban area but long for a rural living environment? I for one enjoy the balance of suburban living, where I am outside city bounds but close enough to stores and necessary accessibilities (post office, library, grocery store, gas stations, etc.). I enjoy the sense of community suburban living offers, such as town festivals, community events (cookie walk, yard sales, parades), multiple sports fields, parks, trails and closeness of neighborly bonds. A few perks I found when researching urban, suburb and rural living include: urban areas thrive on providing many essential operations to the growing population of residences. Cities tend to offer more job opportunities, a large mix of people and culture, more educational opportunities with a variety of courses, more overall facilities and health care options. Suburb characteristics include larger living areas, often with lower living costs, smaller population basis, influx of scenery/nature, lower crime rates than cities, and are popular for growing families. Rural areas provide cleaner air, less crime out of the three living areas, low key living, tends to have the cheapest living costs of the three choices, and larger exposure to nature.
Out of all the three choices urban living tends to associate with a higher concern for stimulus overload. Stimulus overload is a concept that outlines a sense of overwhelming factors that we cannot simultaneously respond to everything in the surroundings of our environment, so a need for priority and attention selection becomes a needed focus (Gruman, 415). Since urban living provides many conveniences, inhabitant range from all walks of life. Associated research identifies problems and stresses associates to city life, with a trending focus on poor and working-class neighborhoods (Gruman, 414) . I image if you took a moment to recall individual experiences associated with the urban living and the surrounding environment a few commonalities many include crowded streets, traffic, liter, noise, ma and pa shops, difficulties with parking, homeless or beggars, a variety of architecture, etc. In a largely crowded area, an individual sense of identity can become compromised. Psychologist Zimbardo suggested that the overwhelming amount of stimulation and increased number of people in the same living area compromises sense of relative anonymity, which can result in the notion of deindividuated and antisocial tendency (Gruman, 415).
According to a Pew Research census data analysis, since 2000, United States urban and suburban populations have grown in similarly to the prior decade. The rural population has decreased from its population in the 1990’s. The Baby Boomer generation populate a higher share of adults age 65 or older in rural areas. Suburban counties have also seen an increase in older adults since 2000. In relation to urban, suburbs and rural areas about 45 million American live in rural counties, 175 million live in suburbs and small metros and the largest population of about 98 million are in urban counites. Urban areas gained 1.5 million new migrants since 2000. Urban counties had 9.8 million more births than deaths which flooded the population (Pew Research Center, 2018).
The Pew Research census analysis indicates urban areas to be the largest populated areas. Since there is a higher concern for an overload stimulus, deindividuated and antisocial behavior when living in a crowded area, how does this affect community? In addition to these concerns, larger cities tend to have higher poverty and single-led-parent family homes, decline in neighborhood surrounds via abandoned buildings, vandalism, high demand for construction related needs and town renovations and environmental stressors. I believe this is when we look at all possible community identifiers, we may be less familiar with. McMillan and Chavis studied the concept of sense of community, indicating the four elements which include membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs and shared emotional connect (Gruman, 414). Though these four elements may be difficult to achieve when living in a big city, the concept of social learning theory can provide the notion for social support system in partnership with one another to develop effects to reduce negative associated impacts. One way to establish this is through a strong social network among adults that can help promote healthy outcomes, preventing negative outcomes and improve neighboring surroundings (Gruman, 417). I do believe it would be difficult to know a majority of people on a personal level. However, establishing kindness and positive influence among people you come in contact with can help build a strong community and hopefully help reduce urban related concerns.
Applied Social Psychology : Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Jamie A. Gruman, Frank W. Schneider, and Larry M. Coutts . SAGE Publications . 2016
Pew Research Center. Social and Demographic Trends. May 22, 2018. https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/demographic-and-economic-trends-in-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/