Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The latest issue of the Journal of Urban affairs has an article by David Imbroscio arguing against what he calls the dispersal consensus in low-income housing policy. The intent of this set of policies is to spread out the urban poor into middle-class suburban neighborhoods.

I haven't yet read the article, but it makes sense that the heterogeneity created by a dispersal policy might create some problems. An interesting set of case studies are the Paris suburbs. The article, references French Sociologist Loic Wacquant's work on, what he calls, anti-ghettos or heterogeneous places that work to reduce the solidarity fostered by ethnic enclaves. Here's a telling passage from the article discussing anti-ghettos:
the layout of the French suburbs (hinders neighbourly and community relationships that could, for example, encourage religions to develop. They are designed in a way that makes it difficult for immigrant workers to mix and to enjoy leisure time, encouraging them to save in order to become future homeowners.
The recent discussions about suburban poverty suggests that perhaps an anti-ghettoing is occurring in the U.S. as well. I'd be interested in knowing how and why do integrating suburbs avoid this anti-ghettoing process. How do dispersal policies help to ameliorate the loss of bonding social capital that is bound to occur?

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