Divided Cities

The urban in fragile, uncertain, neoliberal times: towards new geographies of social justice?

Canadian cities are at a crossroads. The neoliberalization of governance at multiple scales, inadequate re-investment in urban infrastructure, increasing reliance on continental and international trade, and the restructuring of the space economy have combined to weaken Canada’s cities just as the global economic system is undergoing transformation. Canadian urban geographic
scholarship has much to offer under current conditions, and is already making significant contributions in key areas. In particular, research on what might be called the contours and impacts of urban restructuring and the neoliberal city, immigration and cities of difference, and urban environmental justice show much promise and are likely to define the core of Canadian urban geography
into the future.

Ghettos in Canada’s cities? Racial segregation, ethnic enclaves and poverty concentration in Canadian urban areas

Recent literature suggests a growing relationship between the clustering of certain visible minority groups in urban neighbourhoods and the spatial concentration of poverty in Canadian cities, raising the spectre of ghettoization. This paper examines whether urban ghettos along the U.S. model are forming in Canadian cities, using census data for 1991 and 2001 and borrowing a neighbourhood classification system specifically designed for comparing neighbourhoods in other countries to the
U.S. situation. Ecological analysis is then performed in order to compare the importance of minority concentration, neighbourhood classification and housing stock attributes in improving our understanding of the spatial patterning of low-income populations in Canadian cities in 2001. The findings suggest that ghettoization along U.S. lines is not a factor in Canadian cities and that a high degree of racial concentration is not necessarily associated with greater neighbourhood poverty. On the other hand, the concentration of apartment housing, of visible minorities in general, and of a high level of racial diversity in particular, do help in accounting for the neighbourhood patterning of low income. The authors suggest that these findings result as much from growing income inequality within as between each visible minority group. This increases the odds of poor visible minorities of each group ending up in the lowest-cost, least-desirable neighbourhoods from which they cannot afford to escape (including social housing in the inner suburbs). By contrast, wealthier members of minority groups are more mobile and able to self-select into higher-status ‘ethnic communities’. This research thus reinforces pleas for a more nuanced interpretation of segregation, ghettoization and neighbourhood dynamics.

The Language of Globalization

The language of globalization deserves some explicit attention. The issue is more than one of careless use of words: intellectually, such muddy use of the term fogs any effort to separate cause from effect, to analyze what is being done, by whom, to whom, for what, and with what effect. Politically, leaving the term vague and ghostly permits its conversion to something with a life of its own, making it a force, fetishizing it as something that has an existence independent of the will of human beings, inevitable and irresistible. This lack of clarity in usage afflicts other elements of the discussion of globalization as well, with both analytic and political consequences. Let me outline some problem areas, and suggest some important differentiations.


What’s So New About Divided Cities?

A divided city is certainly nothing new, historically. Invidious differentiation may be the most accurate, if not the most monosyllabic, formulation for the real issue. Not inequality per se, but inequality that reflects a hierarchical relationship, one of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion, privilege and deprivation, is the policy concern.  Whether the new outweighs the old depends on the purpose of the question.

Globalizing Cities – Conclusion: A Changed Spatial Order

This concluding chapter of Globalizing Cities: A New Spatial Order? describes the changes in the spatial order of cities. Reflection on the importance of governmental action in determining the extent and nature of changes in the spatial order of cities leads us to the single most important conclusion of our study: that the pattern of development of cities today is subject to control, is not  the result of uncontrollable forces, is not  the result of iron economic laws whose effects states are powerless to influence. On the contrary, in case after case we have found agency to have a major impact on structure: the actions of the state, of nation states, determined by the balance of power between/ among contending forces in the economic and political sphere, is a major determinant of a city’s spatial pattern, heavily influenced though it may be by the contingencies we have mentioned.


Divided cities in the 21st century: challenging the importance of globalisation

In this paper the focus is on the explanation of divided cities. We will make clear that many elements of older theories are still very relevant whendivisions within cities have to be explained. This is  obviously still the case in aworld which is described by a large number of geographers and urban sociologists as increasingly globalising. A main argument could be that in the last three decades or so the process of globalisation has become enormously in?uential in explaining changes within cities, but in this paper we want to modify this notion. Our argument will be that attention for globalisation is useful, but that we should never exaggerate the in?uence of this process in a city as a whole and in parts of that city. In other words: we want to challenge the importance of globalisation when explaining divided cities or urban change in general.

The New Divided City: Changing Patterns in European Cities

Over the last 20 years there has been a vigorous discussion of evidence related to new and more intense social and spatial divisions within European cities. These contributions have identified social and spatial polarisation associated with globalisation, deindustrialisation and the increasing income inequalities arising from these. However, various ‘moderating’ factors were identified to explain why different outcomes were emerging in European cities than in their American counterparts. In this context much of the literature has focused on types of national welfare state and as these arrangements have come under pressure across Europe it may be expected that differences from the USA may decline. However there are other literatures that, rather than emphasizing the importance of national welfare states, refer to the stronger interventionist traditions of European governments and the distinctive characteristics of European cities. Differences in these dimensions within Europe – including those related to urban planning and decommodified housing – do not correlate with typologies of national welfare states and suggest continuing divergence within Europe and between Europe and the USA. Working within this framework, this introduction to a special issue argues that although European welfare states have weakened, other factors continue to sustain differences between European and American cities.

Neighbourhood Trends in Divided Cities: Income Inequality, Social Polarization & Spatial Segregation. An Annotated Bibliography

The focus of this bibliography is on the way in which Western cities (i.e.,generally the OECD countries) are internally divided (or partitioned) on the basis of socio-economic and ethno-cultural status, and the reasons why these divisions exist and the ways in which they are changing. The focus is:

  • the socio-economic and spatial impacts of the gentrification and related neighbourhood change processes
  • the impact of macro level contexts such as globalization and neoliberal policies on urban outcomes and neighbourhoods;
  • changes in the nature, extent and impact of discrimination and segregation oncities and neighbourhoods; and
  • the changing location of wealthy and poor neighbourhoods, and the changing nature and extent of income inequality and income polarization within and among neighbourhoods in a city.

This bibliography is partially annotated with the original summaries (abstracts) as provided by the author or publisher. It was complied as part of the Neighbourhood Change Community University Reseach Alliance. Though large, by searching with keywords, this bibliography should help researchers build upon the existing literature.

The Three Cities Within Toronto: Income Polarization Among Toronto’s Neighbourhoods, 1970-2005

Research Report, Cites Centre, December 2010, 32 pages.

The City of Toronto is becoming increasingly divided by income and socio-economic status. No longer a city of neighbourhoods, modern-day Toronto is a city of disparities. In fact, Toronto is now so polarized it could be described as three geographically distinct cities. This study analyzed income and other data from the 1971 to the 2006 censuses, and grouped the city’s neighbourhoods based on whether average income in each one had increased, decreased, or stayed the same over that 35-year period. It found that the city’s neighbourhoods have become polarized by income and ethno-cultural characteristics and that wealth and poverty are increasingly concentrated.