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Representations of an Urban Ethnic Neighbourhood: Residents' Cognitive Boundaries of Koreatown, Los Angeles

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The neighbourhood has long been studied in fields such as geography, sociology, political science, and urban planning as a meaningful unit of analysis, with deep connections for residents, but an ever-shifting form. This study expands on foundational research about geographic regions (particularly informal or cognitive regions), sense of place, and environmental cognition, taking as its focal area the neighbourhood of Koreatown in Los Angeles (LA). We conducted in-person surveys, including a drawing task, to assess residents' cognitive boundaries of Koreatown. Using two approaches, we evaluate ways in which respondents' cognitive boundaries of Koreatown align with and differ from otherwise established definitions of Koreatown. Survey data are supplemented with socio-demographic data from the Census and field observations to contextualize these findings by looking at residential ethnic composition in the neighbourhood and in the greater LA region. This research contributes to our understanding of urban neighbourhoods by extensively analysing a unique ethnic enclave in one of the United States' largest metropolises from the perspective of local residents. By surveying residents about their concepts of this neighbourhood region, we elucidate how ideas about neighbourhood fit into theories about sense of place. This work also demonstrates the value of surveying residents about vague concepts of local regions and explores ways to measure and express these ideas.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2018

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  • Built Environment is published quarterly in March, June, September and December. With an emphasis on crossing disciplinary boundaries and providing global perspective, each issue focuses on a single subject of contemporary interest to practitioners, academics and students working in a wide range of disciplines. Issues are guest-edited by established international experts who not only commission contributions, but also oversee the peer-reviewing process in collaboration with the Editors.

    Subject areas include: architecture; conservation; economic development; environmental planning; health; housing; regeneration; social issues; spatial planning; sustainability; urban design; and transport. All issues include reviews of recent publications.

    The journal is abstracted in Geo Abstracts, Sage Urban Studies Abstracts, and Journal of Planning Literature, and is indexed in the Avery Index to Architectural Publications.

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