About Urban Segregation

In most industrialized nations, including the United States, urban segregation is a significant societal issue. To combat both social and racial segregation, several anti-segregation projects have been established. Significant socioeconomic issues like racial and economic segregation have led to inequality in living standards, labor markets, and access to social services. In most American localities, residential segregation has reached previously unheard-of heights during the past few decades. According to studies, living circumstances in various residential regions were more unequal in the late 1990s (Adeola, 107). Even though there are governmental programs aimed at lessening urban segregation, they have only had a minimal impact. The physical separation between people of different racial or economic backgrounds in the society symbolizes a social difference between the populaces. Some groups experience exclusion from important aspects of the daily life that cause difficulties for them to penetrate the employment industry. The significant negative consequences of urban segregation include elimination along with the social distance.

Spatial and Residential Segregation

In most metropolises, spatial separation has emerged as a standard feature. The isolation is associated with different factors in distinct regions. For instance, in various areas, it is linked to income status, ethnicity or religion or even racial groups. In Latin America, debates on spatial segregation revolve around issues that are socioeconomic while in the United States as well as in most developed countries, the debate focuses more on disparities that are racial and ethnic. Furthermore, residential segregation is defined differently depending on the historical context, structure along with the cultural context of the metropolis. For example, in North America, the social along with ethnic minorities reside in the locales of the inner cities which are less desirable while the middle and the upper classes live in suburbs that are small and socially homogeneous across the metropolitan area. Contrastingly, the elite in Latin America is concentrated in specific parts of the cities.

The forces which contribute to spatial segregation vary and are diverse. In South Africa, the apartheid laws are the primary causes of the large-scale spatial separation that was sanctioned by the government (Christopher, 449). In the 1960s, the Brazilian government destructed the favelas and moved the poor inhabitants to other locales that were also segregated. Between 1979 and 1985 during the regime of Pinochet in Santiago, Chile, more than 2,000 families that were low-income earners were evicted from the residential areas whose most of the inhabitants were the high and middle-income earners with the aim of creating socioeconomic equality in the neighborhoods (Romero et al. 76). While the evictions by the governments along with the legal frameworks have played key roles in the creation of spatial segregation, more mechanisms that are subtle have also been used to create and impose spatial separation. For instance, in Columbia, a form of betterment change was imposed on the people residing in the Bogota region which was an informal settlement and was within the circumference of the new highway (Thibert and Giselle, 1319). The officials who authorized the relocation were aware that most of the inhabitants could not afford high charges and were more likely to relocate to cheaper areas. The government forced those living in poverty to settle in neighborhoods that were informal as well as peripheral through the use of land standards. The U.S has also used the same strategies to in creating housing markets that are segregated. Most estate agents always shun individuals from racial or ethnic minority groups or social classes that do not fit their targeted markets. Further, property owners depend on informal networks to get the kind of tenants they prefer.

In the recent past, voluntary segregation has emerged as a new force with the emergence of the gated communities. The trends appear to have several motivations which might be driven by either demand or supply. When considering demand, residents may be attracted to the perception that they will receive good security and adopt a new kind of lifestyle. On the side of the supply, the developers realize large profits from these developments that re highly controlled. Both coercive and voluntary segregation raises deeper questions on the relationship between spatial segregation and the social disparities (Yigitcanlar, 27). Most studies indicate that the social differences are reflected in spatial separation. Some social groups prefer isolation with the aim of fortifying their weak identity as evidenced by the immigrant communities or even the emerging groups of middle-income earners in their search of a social identity. In most developed countries specifically in the U.S, spatial and residential; segregation has emerged as substantial policy issues due to the complexity of the interactions between the housing and land markets and their relation to the local revenues. Besides, the distribution along with the quality of public services align with spatial segregation. For instance, the quality of schools vividly indicates the variations of the public services between residential areas. Other services also vary spatially such as healthcare and transportation. The combination of residential segregation with the spatial distribution that is uneven limits the chances of the ethnic or racial minority to access equal opportunities in life.

Tackling Urban Segregation through Planning and Development Practices

The issue of urban segregation reflects the social structure in place, and the mechanism to administer it and this raises the question of how to address the exclusion. In the U.S, the development of improved schools and integration of the neighborhood will serve in reducing spatial as well as residential segregation (Taipale, 19). It is important to develop multidimensional policies to solve the issue. The planning process plays a significant role in the development and formation of urban designs that may promote or curb segregation in theses residential areas. Several factors are attributable to the present state of the living conditions of most urban populaces globally. Rapid urbanization is faced with the challenge of demographic. Another challenge is the democratization process through the creation of awareness of the social and economic rights of all people regardless of their racial or ethnic backgrounds or even their socioeconomic status. Urban sprawl along with informal urbanization has resulted in inequalities that are either social or spatial or even both. The fundamentals of public planning call for the reinvention by the apprehensive interested parties where innovative policies along with strategies are derived using the appropriate solutions (Valentine, 4). The open practices as well as planning adopted in the cities in the 21st century should transform the key challenges of urban segregation to opportunities through the creation of cities that accommodate all citizens regardless of their socioeconomic status.

Urban development and practices largely determine the form of any city as evidenced by the present transformations of most cities in the developing countries. Several studies have indicated that most cities with urban practices and developments such as Nairobi in Kenya, Lagos, and Abuja in Nigeria that contrast the settings of the neighborhoods (Adeola, 112). In most of these towns, the widening gap between various classes along with the social strata is a major determinant factor of the exclusions, divisions and the different settings of the neighborhoods. Most of the urban dwellers in these regions in all parts of the world experience high levels of inequalities, neglect as well as rejection and this has aroused the interest of policy makers along with the city developers to develop strategies that support the creation of supportive cities for all people. Effective urban planning along with the development practices can be instrumental in achieving an urban space that is inclusive. Further, the exercises can reverse the informality trends especially the growth in the development of slums. However, the transformations may not occur spontaneously but will be gradual due to the enactment of relevant policies that will adequately support the living conditions as well as the needs of the ethnic, racial and social minorities. The policies coupled with urban planning and development practices might create a sustainable urban growth by promoting equity in the allocation of resources, restructuring the social institutions along with effective implementation and monitoring.

The strategic use of the urban planning tools and improved governance in these areas is instrumental in tackling urban segregation. By adopting an urban planning approach that switches between the command and control model, nations from all over the world will achieve urban cities that are inclusive. It is important to encourage then participation of all stakeholders including the members of the public in the decision-making process, implementation as well as monitoring of the process of urban planning (Ahern, Sarel and Jari, 254). Secondly, it is crucial to foster the collaboration of both the public and private sectors, development partners internationally as well as groups that are community-based to reinforce the legality of both the planning and regulating systems. Such an activity will lead to the achievement of progress through the enactment of regulations and strictly sticking to the standards. Further, certain frameworks such as the policies and judicial that are approved by the institutional processes are also significant in the achievement of spatial planning along with cities that are sustainable. Urban planning also acts as a tool for the local democracy and the realization of inclusive governance since it responds to the needs of the local dwellers rather than regulating them. Through participatory planning, the communities will be empowered with the aftermath of spatial designs that are better and which respond to the needs of the different social groups residing in the urban areas and this impact the quality of life.

Experts and the stakeholders of urban planning have established several principles to govern the process towards the elimination of urban segregation. Foremost, urban planning intends to promote sustainable development in the urban areas. The other principles include responding to the market demands while at the same time recognizing the diversity of cultures as well as the involvement of partners and stakeholders in the planning process among others (Barton and Marcus, 129). Researchers have emphasized the need to update the city policies along with the urban planning process since they are instrumental in dealing with segregation in urban areas. Moreover, they bridge the widening gap between the social classes and racial groups by creating cities that are inclusive and encourage cultural diversity. Therefore, urban planning is an appropriate tool in tackling spatial as well as residential segregation.

Sustainable urban development is also instrumental in curbing discrimination in these residential areas. In the U.S, the government fuelled spatial and residential segregation in the 1930s. Besides, the increased inequalities between the ethnic and racial groups have further intensified the situation. In most residential areas in the U.S, the ethnic majority live in neighborhoods that are completely homogeneous (Legeby, 17). For the government in the U.S as well as in other developed countries to tackle the public challenge, they should develop sustainable residential areas. Development practices can ensure that all people access quality public spaces to address the issues of urban segregation. The notion that gated communities offer public space is misinformed. Social inclusion is the key factor to tackle urban isolation especially in the U.S. The federal government should create and implement policies that promote racial integration in the residential areas. People earning different incomes can reside in the same neighborhoods to reduce spatial segregation, and this will be beneficial in the long-term by encouraging economic development along with productivity.


Conclusively, the issue of urban segregation affects not only the developed countries but also the developing ones. The society needs to acknowledge the adverse effects of discrimination and develop better ways to tackle it. In most developing countries like South Africa, the apartheid laws intensified urban isolation, and the levels are quite high calling for the intervention of the government. In the U.S, the impacts of urban isolation are evident especially in the inequality in accessing public services. Effective urban planning systems along with development practices are instrumental in creating inhabitable cities where all people live in harmony regardless of their racial background or socioeconomic status. Countries all over the world need to build urban spaces that encompass all aspects of an individual's life in respect to their status and class in the society. Urban planning and development practices are the primary tools in reducing and eliminating urban segregation.

Works Cited

Adeola, Ogunsola Segun. "Urban Egalitarianism: The Way forward to Ensure Sustainable Urban Design, Practice and Development in Developing Countries (The Nigerian Case)." Environment and Ecology Research 4.3 (2016): 107-115.

Ahern, Jack, Sarel Cilliers, and Jari Niemelä. "The concept of ecosystem services in adaptive urban planning and design: A framework for supporting innovation." Landscape and Urban Planning 125 (2014): 254-259.

Barton, Hugh, and Marcus Grant. "Urban planning for healthy cities." Journal of Urban Health 90.1 (2013): 129-141.

Christopher, A. J. "Urban segregation in post-apartheid South Africa." Urban studies 38.3 (2001): 449-466.

Legeby, Ann. Urban segregation and urban form: From residential segregation to segregation in public space. Diss. KTH, 2010.-17

Romero, Hugo, et al. "Assessing urban environmental segregation (UES). The case of Santiago de Chile." Ecological Indicators 23 (2012): 76-87.

Taipale, K. "Challenges and Way Forward in the Urban Sector: Sustainable Development in the 21st Century (SD21)." New York: UNDESA (2012).-19

Thibert, Joel, and Giselle Andrea Osorio. "Urban segregation and metropolitics in Latin America: The case of Bogotá, Colombia." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38.4 (2014): 1319-1343.

Valentine, Gill. "Living with difference: Proximity and encounter in urban life." Geography 98 (2013): 4.

Yigitcanlar, Tan. "Smart cities: an effective urban development and management model?" Australian Planner 52.1 (2015): 27-34.

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