Geography and Segregation

While legal segregation has been banned for some time in many countries around the world, segregation still occurs through acts of social choices. The geography of those choices are evident in many urban neighborhoods where socio-economic classes, ethnic groups, and race often the main factors that segregate populations.[1] Segregation, however, has been shown to transcend social and work space, where who we interact with online, offline, and where we work has a strong relationship to class, ethnic groups, and race.[2]

Human Ecology and Segregation

Geographers have described human ecology, or our surrounding experiences and interactions, as shaping our sense of belonging in a place. Individuals who feel able to interact and express themselves more easily in a given place are more likely to feel a sense of belonging, leading them to make choices to be in that space. Over time, these selections can lead to segregation for people, as communities that become comfortable for some become less comfortable for others based on their sense of belonging.[3]

Dimensions of spatial segregation.  From Measures of Spatial Segregation by Reardon and Sullivan, 2004.

Dimensions of spatial segregation. From Measures of Spatial Segregation by Reardon and Sullivan, 2004.

Geography of Vacation Segregation

Interesting, while in daily lives, segregation is common, even on holiday a pattern of segregation is evident. A recent study using mobile phone data in Estonia showed that segregation increases when people choose to go on holiday destinations outside of their home city.[4]

Positive and Negative Segregation

While segregation may appear as a negative, geographers do distinguish between more positive segregation, where populations of given groups concentrate in areas because they see these places as increasing their access to jobs and other social benefits, from negative segregation, where populations become excluded from socio-economic functions.[5] In countries where ethnic or racial differences are less pronounced, segregation has been shown to occur based on other factors. In Korea, for instance, education has been show to be a strong reason for urban segregation in Seoul.[6] While segregation show distinct patterns, today geographers differentiate forms of segregation as those that can have positive but also negative consequences.

References

[1] For more on urban segregation today, see:  Maloutas, Thōmas, and Kuniko Fujita. 2012. Residential Segregation in Comparative Perspective: Making Sense of Contextual Diversity. Cities and Society. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

[2] For more on segregation in social and work space, see:  Ham, Maarten van, and Tiit Tammaru. 2016. “New Perspectives on Ethnic Segregation over Time and Space. A Domains Approach.” Urban Geography 37 (7): 953–62

[3] For more on the role of belonging in segregation, see:  Ham, Maarten van, and Tiit Tammaru. 2016. “New Perspectives on Ethnic Segregation over Time and Space. A Domains Approach.” Urban Geography 37 (7): 953–62.

[4] For more on segregation during holidays in Estonia using mobile phone data, see:  Mooses, Veronika, Silm, Siiri, & Ahas, Rein. 2016. “Ethnic segregation during public and national holidays: A study using mobile phone data.” Geografiska Annaler: Series B Human Geography 98(3): 205-219.

[5] For more on positive and negative forms of segregation, see:  Cutler, David M., Edward L. Glaeser, and Jacob L. Vigdor. 2008. “When Are Ghettos Bad? Lessons from Immigrant Segregation in the United States.” Journal of Urban Economics 63 (3): 759–74. doi:10.1016/j.jue.2007.08.003.

[6] For more on segregation based on education, see:  Lim, Up, Ye Seul Choi, Chanyong Kim, and Donghyun Kim. 2016. “Exploring the Geography of Educational Segregation in Seoul, Korea.” In Quantitative Regional Economic and Environmental Analysis for Sustainability in Korea, edited by Euijune Kim and Brian H. S. Kim, 25:23–44. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

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