Segregation is the divison of two or more groups in a city, region or country. This phenomenon was already pronounced in ancient cities. In current urban areas segregation occurs due to factors like income or age, and can greatly vary in the degree of separation between groups (Gregory et al.).
People are separated from each other for many reasons. There is segregation based on class, income, gender, education, language, ethnicity, religion, disability etc. Sometimes segregation occurs because of practices of organisations, in other cases it is based on individual choices, which lead to discrimination of one group (Schelling). Carl H. Nightingale, author of Segregation: A Global History of Divided Cities argues, on the other hand, that ‘voluntary segregation’ does not exist at all. He goes on that ‘voluntary segregation’ is problematic because the term is used most of the times from the perspective of minorities, who have less available choices than stronger groups with more political power. Hence, there are many cases of voluntary segregation, but only white segregationists have a real choice (Nightingale).
Segregation is most pronounced in areas with strong disparities. In cities where wealth is unequally distributed (see Lorenz curve), gated communities are built. In contrast to other forms of segregation, people live in these highly secured enclaves voluntarily and are then protected 24/7 by fences and security guards (Gregory et al.).
Segregation can be distinguished between de jure and de facto segregation. Whereas de jure segregation is “based on laws or actions of the state” (“de jure”), de facto segregation results “from economic or social factors […]” (“de facto”). The Jim Crow Laws, which persisted until the court case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 (Wormser), are examplary for de jure segregation. De facto segregation, on the other hand, is still widespread.
- “de facto.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2012.Web. 24 Oct 2012.
- “de jure.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2012.Web. 24 Oct 2012.
- Gregory, Derek, et al., eds. The Dictionary of Human Geography. 5th ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Print.
- Nightingale, Carl H. “Does Voluntary Segregation Exist?” globalsegregation.com 2 June 2012. Web. 1 Nov 2012.
- Schelling, Thomas C. “Dynamic Models of Segregation.” Journal of Mathematical Sociology 1.2 (1971): 143-186. Print.
- Wormser, Richard. “Brown v. Board of Education.” pbs.org 2002. Web. 29 Oct 2012.