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Is Your Neighborhood Red or Blue? Americans Are Increasingly Segregating Themselves in Ideological Enclaves

We’re increasingly living in red or blue counties, cities, even neighborhoods.

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Motyl and his colleagues note that relocating to a place where you feel comfortable has a wide range of psychological benefits. “When people feel like their values match their environment, they experience greater subjective well-being and increased self-esteem,” they write. “Without fear of reprisal for expressing one’s values, one may be able to more easily form strong interpersonal bonds and accumulate social capital.”

But then there’s also a larger societal cost. “Ideological segregation necessarily leads to reduced contact between members of the segregated groups,” they add. “There is a long history of research demonstrating that reduced intergroup contact lays the foundation for future conflict and prejudice.

“Ideological migration might increase ‘bonding’ with similar others, but decrease ‘bridging’ with dissimilar others.”

Of course, the choice to move to a specific city or neighborhood is based on many factors, including “good job opportunities, safety, and clean air,” Motyl and his colleagues concede. So while the desire to be surrounded by like-minded people clearly matters, the opportunity to buy the home of your dreams at a price you can afford may be strong enough to override it.

But even if you live in a “mixed neighborhood” (that is, liberals and conservatives), there’s another way to stay comfortably in your bubble and feel a sense of community. You can always smile and wave at your crazy neighbor, close the door and turn on your favorite partisan cable news channel.

Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Ventura County Star.
 
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