Where does the neighborhood go? Trust, social engagement, and health among older adults in Baltimore City

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Abstract

Trust is often cited as a necessary predecessor of social engagement, and a public-health good. We question those suppositions through analysis of the life histories of lower-income older adults aging in place in Baltimore. These people desired to continue living independently, but also expressed a complex mix of trust and mistrust in their neighbors, neighborhoods, and broader environments. This was the product of interrelated processes of multilevel physical and social changes over time and space – and, we argue, often featured a “healthy mistrust” that pushed participants to pursue personally meaningful forms of social engagement, whether new or continued.

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