The connection between the individual and her aggregate geographic environment, usually defined as the neighborhood, is a key component of the contextual model of social influence. However, there is substantial anecdotal evidence that people have very little knowledge or connection to their neighborhood. In this paper we explore the connection by using data from the South Bend Study (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1985) to answer two questions. What do people know about objective conditions of their neighborhoods? Second, do these conditions influence perceptions people have of their neighborhoods? We find that (a) people have a good deal of knowledge about the objective conditions, and (b) even after controlling for individual factors, these conditions positively influence how people perceive their status within the neighborhood. In short, there is a connection, albeit an imperfect one, between the individual and the geographic context.
Baybeck, Brady. "What Do They Know and When Do They Know It? An Examination of Citizen Awareness of Context." (Winter 2005).