This assignment is concerned with urban social problems and urban social spaces. It is a two part assignment that will allow you to explore the causes and effects of poverty in North American cities and to create a social geography of a community or city.
- With reference to the concept of the “sociospatial dialectic,” write a short essay on the main causes and effects of poverty and homelessness in North American cities. (4 marks)
- Briefly discuss how these problems might be solved in your essay. (1 mark)
- In relation to Part 1 of Assignment #4, Week 21 of the instructional content and Chapter 15 of the textbook should be consulted. The following articles in the online Library Readings and the Readings Package may also be consulted:“ Ghettos in Canadian Cities?” (Walks and Bourne)“Even in Canada” (Smith and Ley)
The length of this essay should be approximately 750-1,000 typewritten words (excluding references).
Write an essay on the social geography of a neighbourhood or a small town. For this essay, you will have to obtain secondary (published) source data that has been collected by an agency such as Statistics Canada (see the instructional content of Week 1 for address of the STATSCAN Website) or by your local town, region, or municipality. If you have problems obtaining the data, contact the government document reference librarians at the Dafoe Library for help.
For this assignment, decide upon the data sets that you will need in order to describe the social geography of your selected area. You should include variables similar to the indicators included in Figure 15.1 in the instructional content, and the variables discussed in Week 15, for describing the social spaces of your selected area.
You should also include data relating to the same variables for the entire community (i.e., city, town, or municipality) in which your study area is located. You may then compare your study area with the entire community in terms of the selected variables. For example, if you chose to examine a neighbourhood in the City of Winnipeg, you should collect data relating to both the selected variables for that neighbourhood and also for Winnipeg as a whole.
Your essay must incorporate:
- A brief outline of theoretical approaches (based on residential ecology) to the study of the social geography of the city.
- A description of the variables that you selected for analysis.
- A brief description of your selected study area including a map.
- An analysis of the data using descriptive methods only (e.g., frequency distributions, percentages, means, etc.). Your descriptive data may be presented in tables and/or graphs.
- A discussion of the results of your analysis.
Your essay should be structured as follows:
- Introductory section that includes a statement of the objectives of the research and the overview of the theoretical approaches. (4 marks)
- Description of the study area (including a map). (3 marks)
- Data source(s) and description of the data (variables) that are analyzed. (3 marks)
- Description of the method(s) of analysis (tables/graphs) and presentation of data. (4 marks)
- Results of the analysis. (4 marks)
- Conclusion. (2 marks)
In relation to Part 2 of Assignment #4, Weeks 15 & 16 of the instructional content and Chapter 12 of the textbook should be consulted. In addition, the following article from the Readings Package may be consulted, particularly concerning theoretical approaches:“Urban Social Space” (Murdie and Teixeira)
The length of the main text of this essay should be approximately 3,500 typewritten words (excluding references). The data used in the essay should be included in an appendix.
This assignment is concerned with urban social problems and urban social spaces. It is a two part assignment that will allow you to explore the causes and effects of poverty in North American cities a
Week 15 Residential segregation is the outcome of the dynamics of complex patterns of social interaction in cities. In turn, the degree of social interaction and residential segregation between groups of people is a function of social distance. Social distance is based on four interrelated and dynamic dimensions of society: Social status Household type Ethnicity Lifestyle Thus, groups of spatially segregated urban residents may be identified in terms of one or more of these dimensions. Social Distance social Distance expresses the degree of social separation between individuals, ethnic groups, neighbourhoods, or any other grouping of individuals. Indicators of social distance include: the social background of marriage partners; residential proximity; degree of social mixing; and social relationships as perceived by others. The smaller the social distance between individuals, the greater the likely degree of interaction. The greater the social distance between individuals, the greater the likelihood of a larger physical distance between them also. Conversely, a group of individuals separated by small social distances are more likely to live in the same neighbourhood, develop group territoriality (i.e., control and dominance within their local neighbourhood), and thus become residentially segregated from other groups. Dimensions of Society Social Status – is based on class structure, class fractions, class formation (based on people’s experience of class), and class structuration (based on the division of labor, institutional barriers to social mobility, etc.). Household Type – based on household composition (or household life cycle categories) expressed in terms of age/marital status of household members and presence/absence of children. The term family status is defined in relation to household type. Specifically, high family status households are those composed of two parents with children, while low family status households include both single-parent families and households without children. Ethnicity – defined in terms of attributes of race, religion, nationality, or culture relative to the host society (charter group). Lifestyles – based on three stereotypes or “classic lifestyles”: familists, careerists, consumerists. Note that the index of dissimilarity described on pages 300-301 of the textbook is a simple and useful statistic that evaluates the degree of spatial segregation of neighbourhoods in terms of the spatial distribution of any two groups (e.g., aboriginals and non-aboriginals). Human Ecology: The Chicago School The human ecology approach was developed as a social science by Robert Park, Ernest Burgess and others at the University of Chicago during the 1920s. Human ecology was born when theoretical work and concepts from biology and Darwinism, were being used to study societies. The city was viewed as a kind of social organism, with adaptation of socially defined groups to the urban environment. Yeates (1998) notes that “the human ecology approach…is fundamentally interested in the effect of position, in both time and space, upon human institutions and human behaviours” (p.328). The human ecology approach thus provided an ecological conceptual structure with emphasis placed on the tensions between geographically and socially defined groups of people. As a result of competition for urban living space, natural areas developed within which different groups were dominant. Over time, it was assumed that the pattern of natural areas would be modified by the ecological processes of invasion, succession, and dominance resulting from the intraurban movements of relatively homogeneous groups of people. Since the emphasis was on groups of people rather than individuals, the human ecology approach could be applied to data on aggregations of people and households that are collected by the census (e.g., based on census tracts and enumeration areas). Human Ecology: The Concentric Zone Model Ernest Burgess integrated ecological concepts into his concentric zone model. The concentric zone model described the evolution and organization of urban land uses in the 1920s. The model was based on the arrangement of Chicago’s land uses during that period when the city experienced both massive immigration and internal migration. The derivation of the zones (see Figure 12.13 in the textbook) demonstrates the geographical outcome of the assimilation of immigrants into the American way of life. Assimilation enabled the accumulation of wealth by immigrants who were then able to move spatially outwards into higher-income neighbourhoods. Through the ecological processes of: immigration. establishment. accumulation; and assimilation It was hypothesized that the entire city and constituent concentric zones would organically grow outwards. Human Ecology: Criticisms During the late 1930s and 1940s, there were two main criticisms directed at human ecology. the relative neglect of the cultural dimension of social organization; and the apparent disregard of the role social values (e.g., sentiment and symbolism) in people’s behaviours. Additionally: The existence of concentric zones and natural areas was questioned. The use of biotic analogies was increasingly viewed as being over-simplistic. Factorial Ecology The widespread use of factorial ecology in the 1960s and 1970s was in part prompted by criticisms of the simplicity of the human ecology approach. Factorial ecology involves the use of multivariate statistical methods (i.e., factor analysis and related techniques) to determine the social and spatial dimensions of residential segregation. Factor analysis essentially involves a set of procedures that can be applied to summarize in a few dimensions (or common threads) a large number of variables relating to spatial units such as census tracts. In most factor-ecological analyses conducted in Canadian and U.S. cities, socio-economic status, family status (based on household type or life course), and ethnic status have been consistently identified as the main dimensions of social space (see Figure 15.1 below). Figure 15.1 Steps in the development of social area constraints and indices Source: © Maurice Yeates, 2005. The North American City, 5th edition, Fig. 11.2, pg. 333 has been copied with permission from Maurice Yeates. Resale or further copying of this material is strictly prohibited. On the basis of these findings, Robert Murdie formulated an idealized model of the residential structure of North American cities (Figure 12.14 in the textbook) comprised of: sectoral social status zones, concentric family status zones (with high family status households occupying the outer zones), and ethnic clusters superimposed over the city’s physical template. However, Murdie stressed that (i) these simple spatial structures were often distorted by the layout of components of physical space (e.g., highway networks), and (ii) additional dimensions of residential differentiation (e.g., social polarization) were often elicited in factor-ecological analyses. European Urban Social Spaces In general terms, the social spaces of European cities have traditionally shared some of the classic characteristics of their North American counterparts. However, the results of factor-ecological analyses reveal that the ethnicity dimension is often absent due to the absence of large ethnic minorities. Instead, residential differentiation is typically dominated by a socioeconomic status dimension. This dimension usually assumes a sectoral form in European cities, although many British cities are characterized by concentric circles of increasing socioeconomic status with distance from the CBD. In addition, Mediterranean cities often exhibit the inverse concentric zone pattern found in Latin America, with the elite centrally located near major transportation routes. Week 16 Week 16 focuses on changes in residential and neighbourhood differentiation in North American cities since the early 1970s. In response to the economic restructuring that took place during this period, there have been significant rearrangements of urban residential structure in association with the advent of new social groups and spaces (for example, ethnoburbs). We shall first examine the main factors for recent changes in residential segregation and the move on to discuss the new mosaic of social spaces based on urban lifestyle communities. Finally, with the use of selected variables, we shall take a look at aspects of Winnipeg’s contemporary socio-spatial structure. Week 16 is divided into three sections: Change factors governing the recent rearrangements of urban social space. Examples of the new socio-spatial mosaic of North American cities. Winnipeg’s social spaces. Change Factors in Urban Social Space: New Divisions of Labour New divisions of labor have created occupational polarization as a result of sectoral shifts in the economy. These shifts have resulted in: increases in the number higher-paid jobs in producer services, hi-tech manufacturing, and the media; increases in the number of low-paid jobs in routine unskilled service-sector jobs (which are often part-time as part of flexible production systems); increases of female participation in the workforce, particularly in low-paid and part-time jobs, which together with the gender gap in wages has contributed to the feminization of poverty, particularly among female-headed households and the African American population; and decreases in the number of middle-income jobs (i.e., skilled blue collar jobs in manufacturing) due partly to their global decentralizaton in association with the new international division of labor. Taken together, these changes have left their imprint on residential structures (for instance, the breaking up of middle-class suburban neighbourhoods due to the thinning out of middle-income groups). Change Factors Governing Recent Rearrangements of Urban Social Space: Ethnic Minorities Recent large-scale immigration in both Canada and the United States has resulted in the spatial reorganization of ethnic neighbourhoods. These new immigration streams have been characterized by fewer Europeans and more people from Latin America Asia, and the Caribbean. The new immigrant groups have created distinctive new socio-ethnic spaces not only in the inner city, but also in suburban areas, e.g., ethnoburbs. While there has also been a trend towards black suburbanization, the majority of African Americans in the United States are still concentrated in the inner city. Change Factors in Rearrangements of Urban Social Space: The Postmodern Generation and New Lifestyles The postmodern generation and new lifestyles are also associated with the advent of consumption-oriented Baby Boom generation and their pluralistic tastes. These changes have contributed to increasingly differentiated socio-cultural urban landscapes. Examples include polarized retail areas, inner-city gentrification, and privately developed suburban residential settings (e.g., retirement communities, condominium apartments, master-planned communities, etc.) packaged with distinctive design themes and key lifestyle amenities. The compression of time and space associated with recent advances in telecommunications, has resulted in the replication of lifestyles and lifestyle residential communities across cities in North America thus constituting a mosaic culture. New Social Spaces Spatially Isolated Concentrations of the Vulnerable and DisadvantagedDisadvantaged groups such as single-female-headed households, low-income African Americans, the lone elderly, and the homeless have increasingly occupied distinctive social spaces that are geographically separated from the rest of society. In particular, spatially isolated concentrations of the very poor belonging to one or more of these disadvantaged groups are often located in impacted ghettoes in areas of the inner city. Lifestyle CommunitiesThrough the use of marketing applications of Geographic Information Systems and related techniques, different neighbourhoods (and consumer groups) based on lifestyle clusters have been identified. In the textbook, Table 12.7 lists 62 lifestyle clusters into 15 social groupings that are largely located in distinctive areas of the city. The EthnoburbThe ethnoburb is a new type of ethnic area within the city. Ethnoburbs are suburban ethnic clusters and business districts characterized by vibrant ethnic economies. They are typically multi-ethnic communities in which one ethnic minority group has significant concentration but does not necessarily comprise a majority.Ethnoburbs also have strong ties to the global economy and may be viewed as outposts in the international economic system through business transactions, capital circulation, and flows of entrepreneurs, and other workers (see Figure 16.1).Ethnoburbs coexist with traditional inner-city ethnic areas. However, their strong ethnic identity means that they clearly differ from typical North American suburbs that have been characterized by the dispersal of ethnic groups. Examples of Canadian ethnoburbs with significant concentrations of Chinese residents are located in both Toronto and Vancouver (Bunting and Rutherford, 2006). Winnipeg’s Social Spaces Useful insights into the social spaces of a city are afforded by census data relating to variables that are indicators of three of the dimensions of society: social status, household types (family status), and ethnicity (see Week 15). The following three maps in the instructional content (Figures 16.2 – 16.4) portray spatial distributions of Winnipeg’s population by census tract in terms of: (i) social status based on average family income in 2005 (Figure 16.2); (ii) senior citizens (age 65 years and over) who are selected as an indicator of household type or family status (Figure 16.3); (iii) ethnicity in relation to the aboriginal population in 2006 (Figure 16.4). The census tract data in Figure 16.2 are expressed in terms of mean scaled income level, while the census tract data included in Figures 16.3 and 16.4 are expressed in terms of a concentration index (with higher index values indicating higher degrees of concentration of the specified social group). The use of the zoom function on your computer will enable you to study these maps in detail. Week 21 The above map portrays the spatial distribution of poverty in Winnipeg, 2001. Note that in 2001 the average percentage of Canadian households per census tract below the poverty line was 15.2% Use the zoom function of your computer to study this map in detail. The traditionally anti-urban perspectives of North American culture were undoubtedly fuelled by perceptions that major sets of social and physical problems were intrinsically associated with city life. When identifying urban social problems, it is useful to distinguish problems in cities and problems of cities. Problems of cities (e.g., social disorganization in slum neighbourhoods) are those brought about or amplified by attributes of urban settings. Problems in cities are problems associated with broader changes in society rather than being directly created by the urban settings themselves (e.g., social polarization in cities due to the impact of globalization). However, it may be validly argued that at least some the wider urban problems are both “in” and “of” the city. In Week 21, we shall examine three major urban social problems in depth: slums and poverty, criminal violence, and homelessness. Arguably, the first of these problems may be regarded as both of and in the city, while the other two appear to be more appropriately regarded as of the city. Week 21 is divided into four sections: Changing perceptions of urban problems. Slums and poverty. Criminal violence. Homelessness. Changing Perceptions of Urban Problems Table 21.1 summarizes North American society’s changing perceptions of urban problems through four eras (epochs) of urban development from 1840 to the present. Table 21.1 Changing Perceptions of Urban Problems: Eras of Urban Development (1840-Present) Era of Urban Development Perceived Major Problems Early Industrial City (1840 – 1875) Physical deterioration Mental deterioration Moral deterioration Slums and poverty The Industrial City (1875 – 1945) Physical stress Mental stress (alienation) Moral deterioration Immigrant ghettos African-American ghettos (U.S. only) Urban size and population density The Fordist City (1945 – 1972) Slums and poverty Racial discrimination Economic & Social inequality The Neo-Fordist City (1973 – Present) Slums and poverty Feminization of poverty Deindustrialization Unemployment/underemployment Air pollution Traffic congestion Crime & racial tension Note that to a certain extent, the shifts in these essentially negative perceptions over time reflect changes in the overall dynamics of urbanization such as increased ethnic immigration in the late nineteenth century, increases in urban population sizes and densities throughout the twentieth century, and globalization in more recent years. While the ideas of Louis Wirth and others informed perceptions of urban problems during the industrial city era, several of the problems associated with the neo-Fordist era reflect concerns about the negative impact of globalization and economic restructuring. lums and Poverty There are several interrelated dimensions of urban poverty including persistent low-incomes, poor health, poor local environments, and psychological stress-related factors. Low-income households typically live in crowded conditions in high-density older neighbourhoods of the city (e.g., the zone in transition around the urban core). While there is currently no government measure of poverty in Canada, the Low Income Measure is frequently is used. This is a measure of relative income defined as 50% of the national median income adjusted by family size (i.e., the percentage or number of people in the lowest income quartile). Chapter 15 in the textbook outlines several key concepts that are used in geographical studies of urban poverty, the most important of which are: Spiral of (Neighbourhood) Decay – is the process by which maintenance and repair of properties in a neighbourhood are at best makeshift, ultimately resulting in local accumulations of garbage, abandonment of properties, and slums. Cycle of Poverty – is a process which begins with low incomes, poor housing, and overcrowding in an urban neighbourhood. These conditions are transmitted from one generation to another. Note that the same conditions contribute to the likelihood of physical ill-health which, in turn, may result in increased absenteeism from work or school. Ultimately, absenteeism will further contribute to the cycle of poverty by limiting opportunities for educational development and the realization of higher wages. Culture of Poverty – relates to the view negative attitudes and values of the poor will also contribute to the perpetuation of the cycle of poverty. Poverty Areas – are defined by the U. S. Bureau of the Census as contiguous census tracts in which at least 20% of the households have an income below the official U.S. poverty level. “Extreme poverty areas” have 40% or more households below the official level, while “high poverty areas” have at least 30% of households below the poverty level. Dual City – in which downsized workers, the poor and the homeless share excluded spaces often associated with the most intense social pathologies. The dual city is thus a consequence of the social inequality and spatial polarization that is particularly associated with world cities (see Week 8). In the United States, while poverty areas remain typically concentrated in the inner cities of metropolitan areas, in recent years there have been increases in poverty in the older inner-ring suburbs. We have already noted the strong association between economic marginalization and the incidence of single-female-parent households in inner cities (see Week 19). In addition, there are trends in both the U.S. and Canada for urban poverty to be increasingly associated with recent immigration. For instance, in the U.S. there has been a marked increase in high poverty areas that include significant numbers of Hispanic immigrants. On the other hand, Smith and Ley (see Online Library Reading) have disclosed that in Canada there is an extremely high incidence of poverty in older areas of Toronto and Vancouver occupied by high percentages of recent immigrants (particularly Somalis, Afghans, Ethiopians, and Bangladeshis). The header image for Week 21 indicates spatial biases concerning the concentration of poverty in Winnipeg in 2001, with the most deprived census tracts located in the inner city and some of the inner suburbs. It is useful to compare this map with the header for Week 19, which displays the concentration of single-female-parent households in Winnipeg. Criminal Violence Factors Governing Intra-Urban Crime Criminal violence in cities results from the interplay of a wide variety of interrelated causal factors including poverty, social disorganization (particularly rapid ecological change in neighbourhoods), demographic factors (particularly the high offense rates of persons in their late teens or twenties), physical blight, the escalation of drug abuse, and psychological stress. Oscar Newman has also stressed the importance of the absence of defensible spaces in the context of criminal behaviour. Specifically, Newman attributed increases in U.S. inner-city crime in the 1960s to the “designing out” of territorial definition and delineation associated with the construction of Modernist high-rise apartment blocks. As a result, unsupervised and undefended public spaces were created around these blocks which provided fertile breeding grounds for intruders and criminal activity. Intra-Urban Spatial Patterns of Criminal Activity The intra-urban spatial patterns of violent crime are fairly simple and typically characterized by much higher offence rates in inner city areas compared with the suburbs. These patterns are thus highly correlated with the geographical patterns of poverty within cities. In more general terms, therefore, criminal activity is associated with the dynamics of urbanization that have produced the “dual city” characterized by both occupational and spatial polarization. Effects of Crime on Urbanization and Urban Life The feedback effects of criminal activity on urban space further exemplifies the concept of the sociospatial dialectic. In other words, criminal activity is not only produced by urbanization processes, but also may itself influence these processes. Examples of these feedback effects within a neighbourhood impacted by high levels of criminal activity include: declining house values and rents; reduced levels of housing/neighbourhood satisfaction (and increased levels of stress and fear among ‘respectable’ residents); changes in the built environment as targets are “hardened”; increased levels of social control (including electronic surveillance) and policing. In high-crime neighbourhoods, social cleavages not only develop between the ‘roughs’ and ‘respectables’, but also within the ‘roughs’ (based on types of criminal activities, modes of substance abuse, etc.). At the macroscale, high crime rates in inner-city areas are likely to deter influxes of potential gentrifiers and neighbourhood upgrading, retail and service investment, and the provision of local government services. Thus, the ultimate effect of criminal activity within a neighbourhood is to further fuel both the spiral of decay and cycle of poverty. It should also be noted that recent years have witnessed increases in the incidence of terrorist attacks in world cities such as New York, London, and Tokyo. Apart from the immediate loss of life and the emotional toll on workers, these attacks have resulted in greatly increased security spending that has incorporated a wide variety of physical and technological approaches. Examples of these initiatives include (i) the use of fortress architecture (e.g., iron security gates), (ii) the use of principles of defensible space to territorially control and protect designated areas of urban areas (e.g., City of London) from further aggression, and (iii) the increased use of surveillance cameras. Homelessness: An Introduction Homelessness has always been present in North American society. With changes in various government policies, however, the degree of homelessness has increased in both Canada and the U.S. and is more visible. While difficult to define, we may usefully regard a homeless person as one who does not having customary and regular access to a conventional dwelling. Thus, the most typical expressions of homelessness include temporary doubling-up, accessing of emergency shelter, and sleeping rough. It is also noteworthy that homelessness varies in terms of duration, ranging from those who remain homeless over extended periods of time (chronic homelessness) to those experience one or two brief periods of homelessness (temporary homelessness) (see Readings Package: Walks, 2006). Two measures of homelessness are (i) single-day snapshots of absolute homelessness, and (ii) the annual number of unique individuals accessing annual shelters. While data relating to (ii) indicate somewhat higher levels of homelessness in U.S. cities compared to their Canadian counterparts, it is notable that Toronto has registered over 30,000 unique individuals accessing the shelter system since 1999 (Walks, 2006, 426-428). Characteristics of the “New” Homeless While homelessness was previously largely limited to white males (particularly during downturns in the economic cycle), the “new” homeless are more diverse and include people who are relatively young, extremely poor in terms of income and shelter, recent immigrants, families including women and children, and African Americans (in U.S. cities). Homeless people have also spilled out from skid-row areas to more extensive service-dependent ghettos in the inner city. In these frequently crime-ridden inner-city ghettos, services (e.g., shelters, missions, etc.) are typically provided by and expanding array of public and voluntary welfare agencies. The Causes of Homelessness The causes of homelessness are complex. This will become clear when you examine Figure 15.26 in the textbook which schematically classifies and summarizes the main causes. You will note that numerous causes of homelessness are classified into four main sets: Policy changes Economic restructuring Sociodemographic change Metropolitan restructuring The figure discloses that these causes collectively produce pressure on low-cost housing space, which in turn produces homelessness. With regard to the set of causes relating to policy change, note that since the 1970s declines in government-funded social housing programs in Canada further intensified shortages of low-rent accommodation. Note that Walks (2006) describes a somewhat simpler conceptualization of the causes or explanations of homelessness based on: (i) the individual model (which includes sociodemographic and other factors relating to the homeless individual); (ii) the structural model (which encompasses the main structural features of modern capitalism such as unemployment, high rents, wage inequality, etc.). Walks also outlines more nuanced and holistic perspectives on homelessness, which link the individual agency model (including life transitions) and the structural model.