Storytelling neighborhood: Paths to belonging in diverse urban environments

Sandra J. Ball-Rokeach, Yong Chan Kim, Sorin Matei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

275 Citations (Scopus)


This article develops and tests a communication infrastructure model of belonging among dwellers of urban residential environments. The concept of a communication infrastructure - a storytelling system set in its communication action context - is discussed. Storytelling neighborhood, the communication process through which neighborhood discussion transforms people from occupants of a house to members of a neighborhood, is proposed as an essential component of people's paths to belonging, an attachment to a residential area that is evidenced in everyday exchange behaviors. A multimethod research design is employed to study seven residential areas in Los Angeles through the use of multilingual data collection to discover the relevant factors that determine belonging in new and old immigrant communities. A communication infrastructure model that posits storytelling as an intervening process between structural location and belonging is proposed and tested. Overall, the most important factor in creating belonging was found to be an active and integrated storytelling system that involves residents, community organizations, and local media. The diagnostic potentials of the communication infrastructure approach and the policy implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-428
Number of pages37
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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