Community imagery and the built environment

Jeffrey Cash Bridger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (SciVal)


This article explores the relationship between the collective representations and rhetoric that residents use to make sense of their communities and changes in the built environment. I draw on data from a case study of land-use discourse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to explore the ways in which imagery shapes the rhetoric available for land-use debate and how this, in turn, affects changes in zoning. Of particular importance in this process are heritage narratives. These broad renditions of a community's history are a form of constitutive rhetoric. When successful, they create an audience to whom subsequent appeals can be made, and they set boundaries on the content and direction of public discourse. The analysis suggests that communication and rhetorical processes are central to ecological change and that to dismiss these phenomena in favor of macrostructural forces is to miss a significant aspect of the human dimensions of local change and of the processes through which places are stratified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-374
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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