Gated communities, one of those originally Western developments, have suddenly been found in cities in the Global South. “Gated communities”, often defined on the basis of their physical form, have been criticized for disconnecting residents from their neighbors outside the gates and reducing social encounters between them. Focusing on cities in the Global South, a large body of research on social encounters between the residents of gated communities and others outside has used case studies of the middle class living in gated communities versus the poor living outside in slums, squats, or public housing. The assumption that gated communities are regarded as enclosed residential spaces exclusively for the middle class, while the poor are found solely in “informal” settlements, may have an effect of stigmatizing the poor and deepening class divisions. It is rare to find studies that take into account the possibility that there also exist gated communities in which the poor are residents. This article examines who the residents of gated communities are, and at the same time analyzes the extent to which people living in gated communities socialize with others living outside. Based on the results of qualitative research in Bangkok, Thailand, in particular, the article critically studies enclosed high-rise housing estates and shows the following: Walls and security measures have become standard features in new residential developments; not only the upper classes, but also the poor live in gated communities; the amenities which gated communities provide are available to outsiders as well; and residents living in gated communities do not isolate themselves inside the walls but seek contact and socialize with outsiders. This article argues that the Western concept of “gated communities” needs to be tested and contextualized in the study of cities in the Global South.
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