Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

M. Martin Bosman, Ph.D.


Restricted-access community, Elite community, Common interest development, Community development district, Homeowners association


With protective gates and guard booths restricting access to their entrances, master-planned gated communities have become a dominant form of suburban development throughout much of the country. Many home builders, developers, and real estate companies promote gated communities as a developmental step towards the creation of a real-life utopia. However, many academics, like Karina Landman and Martin Schonteich (2002), argue that their existence simply marks a new chapter in the fragmentation and polarization of societies all across the world. This study used a mixed methods approach to analyze the demographic makeup of individuals living in gated communities in New Tampa, Florida, as well as the different socio-economic motivations and perceptions which residents had regarding life within their respective community.

The research questions for this study were grounded in the latest academic research and social theory surrounding gated communities, particularly the works of Setha Low (2003) and Theresa Caldeira (2000). The three gated communities investigated in this study were Arbor Greene, Hunter's Green, and Grand Hampton. Using demographic data obtained from structured questionnaires, this study found that these three communities were socio-economically homogenous with a large percentage of residents: (1) having a high median income; (2) being Caucasian; and (3) being married. Using data obtained from semi-structured interviews, this study found that the desire for security and the desire to maintain property values were the two most important considerations for residents when deciding to move into Arbor Greene, Hunter's Green, and Grand Hampton.

Additionally, for most informants, the perceptions of social practices and conditions in the three gated communities within the study area coincided with the desires and needs that these residents originally had when deciding to move into their respective community. As Geography is the study of uneven social relations and spatial structures, these findings were used to fill gaps of knowledge which existed prior to this study with respect to gated communities in the Tampa Bay area, as well as to provide the discipline of geography with a more comprehensive understanding of how these communities in Tampa affect the conceptualization, negotiation, and access to space.