Handbook of Urban Segregation
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Handbook of Urban Segregation

Edited by Sako Musterd

The Handbook of Urban Segregation scrutinises key debates on spatial inequality in cities across the globe. It engages with multiple domains, including residential places, public spaces and the field of education. In addition it tackles crucial group-dimensions across race, class and culture as well as age groups, the urban rich, middle class, and gentrified households. This timely Handbook provides a key contribution to understanding what urban segregation is about, why it has developed, what its consequences are and how it is measured, conceptualised and framed.
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Chapter 23: On the meaning and measurement of the ghetto as a form of segregation

Alan Walks


The word ‘ghetto’ is both a highly loaded and widely misused concept, and the ways it is used have important social and political implications. This chapter begins by examining the origins and meaning of the concept of the ghetto in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, and the differences between ghettos, enclaves and other forms of segregation. It then moves to examine how ghettos might be identified and measured, the debates that have arisen in the scholarly literature around this issue, and how the lack of an agreed-upon definition has left an opening for the political manipulation of the term. The chapter then focuses on the case study of Denmark, which is justifying a program of limiting the rights and mobility of specific communities, and even demolishing their housing, based on their labelling of their neighbourhoods as ‘ghettos’. The problems with this Danish program, and the wider stakes involved in the misunderstanding of ghettoization processes and the misapplication of the concept of ghettos across different contexts, are discussed.

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