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Using Two Examples, Discuss How Difference Is Spatially Produced In Cities.

This essay explores the vivid and subtle difference present between cities and thus highlights how human differences are affected spatially

Date : 07/01/2021

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Uploaded by : Daisy
Uploaded on : 07/01/2021
Subject : Geography

Cities are found all around the world and are more than just containers of difference but act as a hub for bringing differences together. differences can range from race, class, sexuality, age and gender and vary spatially and temporally within cities (Pile, et al., 1999). However, the term difference and people s identity are socially constructed and should not be categorised as a natural constitution (Cloke, et al., 2013). Difference is spatially produced in cities in the sense that in most cities there is high levels of segregation, a phenomenon that occurs when two or more groups occupy different spaces within the city. In this essay, I will explore the prevalence of economic and racial segregation in the city of Chicago and how there has always been a legacy of segregation in this city with a divide between white communities and African American communities. I will also look at differences in sexuality and how homosexuals have had to carry out self-segregation to give a sense of security in the city of Manchester.

Chicago has always had a history of racial segregation due to the influx of Black immigrants from the southern US which as a result increased ethnic diversity and by 1980, 39% of the city s population was Black. This wave of immigrants did have negative repercussions though, as it created a divide within the city and segregated the Black community from the White (Roseman, et al., 1996). One example of a community with a strong African American demographic is Englewood with 94.6% of its population being Black (Cedar Lake Ventures, 2018). This racial segregation is also linked to economic segregation and the high level of income inequality present in the city. In the 1930s, the global great depression resulted in the closure of many businesses and had detrimental impacts on the economic sector with the loss of thousands of jobs, mostly affecting poorer areas like Englewood in Chicago as businesses also began to relocate overseas and, to the suburbs. This resulted in the disappearance of industrial and low-skilled jobs that African American people relied heavily on as their source of work and income. This decrease in employment opportunity led to an increase in joblessness for African Americans with limited educational skills and the area began to only attract lower-income African Americans as the property was cheaper here and more affordable for them, and as a result, it created more segregation between Black and White neighbourhoods. The relocation of businesses and increase in the African American population also led to white-flight in the 1950s as the largely African American community sparked fear in the white community encouraging them to flee the neighbourhood and move to wealthier areas with a more white demographic and better job opportunities (Semuels, 2018). Neighbourhoods, like Englewood, were soon labelled as Ghetto s, where a racial distinction is embodied within the city and these poorer areas have high rates of poverty and experience gang activity and violence, mostly consisting of youth violence due to the lack of economic and job opportunities available to the young leaving them with limited options and most feel their only option is to turn towards gang culture and violence. One key reason as to why these areas are so run down with high rates of poverty is due to disinvestment of the government into Chicago s Black neighbourhoods via racist housing and redlining policies which are when areas were not invested in based on the demographic of the community and it being heavily African American (Jones, 2017).

The white flight that occurred in Englewood was a combination of both push and pull factors. The push being the strong sense of gang culture and violence as well as the large community of African Americans present, and the pull factor being the economic opportunities available in more affluent areas within the inner city such as The Loop. Due to globalisation and technological advancement in Chicago, the Loop has become the business district of the city and thus attracts the more upper class, wealthy population that tends to be white, and so as a result, the demographic is 62.5% white and only 8.1% black (Cedar Lake Ventures, 2018). These two neighbourhoods I have looked at within the city of Chicago are clear examples of how economic and racial difference are spatially segregated and that people of the same class, race and income level tend to cluster together and form an isolated community. Redlining policies have allowed affluent communities, like the Loop, to exclude low-income African Americans from living in the more wealthy areas and confining them to the lower-income neighbourhoods, in a way this creates a gated-community which acts to safeguard the affluent lifestyle in urban spaces and acts as a way of blocking out any sense of difference (Novara Khare, 2017).

Gated communities are prevalent in many other countries as well as the United States, for example in South Africa as a response to the increasing danger of violence and in Pakistan, where places like Bahria Town are enclosed off from the rest of the area.

This gated community consists of middle- and upper-class people who are in want of protection from the ongoing violence in Pakistan such as terrorist attacks and political unrest and to experience a sense of security whilst still receiving a high quality of living. Nonetheless, there is the worrying sense that these gated-communities will further widen the rich-poor gap and enhance the level of segregation, as only the wealthy population can afford to live there and the poor are excluded from this better quality of life, which exacerbates income inequality within the area (Magnier, 2011).

Another difference I will explore is sexuality, homo and heterosexual, and how this difference can result in the exclusion of certain groups from society. In Manchester, there has been the formation of a Gay Village on Canal Street which was established in the 1990s when it became known as a welcoming, safe space for people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. This village was created due to gays feeling out of place within the city and thus feeling like an Other which is a phrase used when heterosexual people are set apart from homosexual people as they are seen opposite to them (Cloke, et al., 2014). They are classed as different and therefore they feel obliged to self-segregate and form a safe place for their own people, this is known as territorialisation of identities, when a particular group claim a space as their own as a way of dealing with difference. Nonetheless, in recent years this has changed, as Manchester s Gay Village became more successful and well-known, it was branded as a cosmopolitan spectacle and labelled as authentically gay but open to all consumers regardless of peoples sexual orientation (Cloke, et al., 2013) homosexuals therefore no longer feel obliged to self-segregate. The sense of Othering has faded and now gay spaces in cities no longer remain static, the gay lifestyle is beginning to be incorporated into the mainstream and marketed globally. This fluidity in the urban landscape has now triggered an increasing interest in more queer-friendly neighbourhoods which are localities where same-sex-attracted residents, businesses, and institutions are welcomed in a dominantly heterosexual milieu, and intergroup interaction fosters dialogue (Gorman-Murray Wiatt, 2009). As a result, there is currently less sense of exclusion of homosexuals from society and there is less spatial segregation, however, there will always be a divide between gay villages , such as the one in Manchester, and the rest of the city due to the underlying sense of exclusion gay people still feel and how there is still not complete acceptance of homosexuality as the social norm.

In conclusion, cities do experience some sort of segregation whether it be economic, racial or to do with sexuality. In the Chicago example, segregation has been prevalent for a considerable amount of time and continues to be an issue in the sense that the racial divide is linked to economic inequality and prevents certain groups of people, such as poor African Americans, from having the same opportunities as white privileged people. Thus, in the end, ghetto neighbourhoods form that is separate from the gated communities which highlights that difference is affected by space and there is a division between people of different race and economic level. Manchester is a good example of how there is now becoming less segregation in the city due to changes in social norms and more of an acceptance of homosexuals in this era, in comparison to the past, when there was a strong sense of segregation and difference was not accepted.

BibliographyCedar Lake Ventures, I., 2018. Race and Ethnicity in The Loop, Chicago, Illinois, Chicago: Cedar Lake Ventures, Inc.

Cedar Lake Ventures, I., 2018. Statistical Atlas, Chicago: Cedar Lake Ventures, Inc..

Cloke, P., Crang, P. Goodwin, M., 2013. Identity and difference. In: Introducing Human Geographies. London: Taylor Francis Group, p. 641.

Cloke, P., Crang, P. Goodwin, M., 2014. Identities. In: Introducing Human Geographies. London: Routledge, pp. 628-640.

Gorman-Murray, A. Wiatt, G., 2009. Queer friendly neighbourhoods: Interrogating social cohesion across sexual differnce in two Australian neighbourhoods.. Environment and Planning A, pp. 2855-73.

Jones, Z., 2017. Englewood. [Online]
Available at: https://chicagoganghistory.com/neighborhood/englewood/

Magnier, M., 2011. Pakistan gated community sparks controversy, Los Angeles : Los Angeles Times.

Novara, M. Khare, A., 2017. Two Extremes of Residential Segregation: Chicago`s Separate Worlds Policy Strategies for Integration, Massachusetts: A Shared Future.

Pile, S., Brook, C. Mooney, G., 1999. The heterogeneity of cities. In: Unruly Cities? Order/Disorder. London: Routledge The Open University, pp. 7-52.

Roseman, C. C., Dieter Laux, H. Thieme, G., 1996. Ethnic Change and Segregation in Chicago. In: EthniCity. London: Rowman Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pp. 31-42.

Semuels, A., 2018. Chicago`s Awful Divide. The Atlantic.

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