Urban planning community

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Geography of opportunity?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Slightly Off-Center
    Posts
    8,260

    Geography of opportunity?

    Noted that the APA is pushing a book entitled "The Geography of Opportunity" this month that apparently addresses housing choices with this teaser
    Equality begins at home—which is why the inequality of housing choices for racial minorities and low-income families is one of the most pressing issues facing American democracy today. This blockbuster book has analysts, advocates, and practitioners across the country talking about segregation: why it persists; how it undermines education, job prospects, health, and safety; and what can be done to end it.
    I'm not sure that I'll ever read it but it did get me thinking about how there is a very fine line between "racial preference" and "racial prejudice".

    It just seems very human of us to want to live, play, worship, etc. where we can afford to and with people who are like us. Without a doubt, limited income limits the opportunities available but that doesn't imply racial prejudice. Here in the Dallas area, I see large populations of economically and ethnically similar people and I have to assume that the better-off folks are living together because they want to, not because they have to.

    Are we, as planners, too quick to jump on the prejudice bandwagon?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    Interesting, I've always had a hard time understanding what it is supposed to be to be a person 'like us'. I was raised in very much a mixed-bagged environment in terms of social, racial, and economic groups. I've always seen this as being a benefit (except for when I was considered the poor kid working as a caddy).

    Socially there may be a precieved need to conform because you have to, this would outweigh those that live together because they need to. At the same time, the upwardly mobile folks do want to keep those that they see as undesirable away.

    I don't think you can really pidgeon-hole any of this.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Duke Of Dystopia's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Cyburbias Brewpub, best seat in the haus!
    Posts
    2,677
    Its called "Propinquity".

    "Like Us", means you have shared values, known rule systems and behavioral habits, and a relatively common belief system.

    It is VERY human. Like most things human, can lead to distorted and dangerous views if not checked against something else
    I can't deliver UTOPIA, but I can create a HELL for you to LIVE in :)DoD:(

  4. #4
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Slightly Off-Center
    Posts
    8,260
    Quote Originally posted by Duke Of Dystopia View post
    Like most things human, can lead to distorted and dangerous views if not checked against something else
    That's why I suggested that preference and prejudice are narrowly separated and may be mistaken for each other. No matter how many housing choices the folks on the lower end of the economic scale are given, they'll always have less than those above them. I don't think that giving them more housing choices will help as much as giving them more opportunities to improve their income whether that's through education or reasonable wages.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    It just seems very human of us to want to live, play, worship, etc. where we can afford to and with people who are like us.
    People are only "alike" culturally and socially because they live together and interact with each other. If we all lived together, we would all be a lot more "alike."

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Posts
    6,247
    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    No matter how many housing choices the folks on the lower end of the economic scale are given, they'll always have less than those above them. I don't think that giving them more housing choices will help as much as giving them more opportunities to improve their income whether that's through education or reasonable wages.
    However, reading literature about the 'culture of poverty' provides some clues into how income stratification does keep folks out of better paying jobs because all they are exposed to are ways that allow them to game the system that may not exist outside of poorer neighborhoods. It is far more beneficial in the long run that someone with some intelligence and drive is able to interact with a neighbor that will help them network with those who could use their job skills.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,872
    Quote Originally posted by ofos View post
    That's why I suggested that preference and prejudice are narrowly separated and may be mistaken for each other. No matter how many housing choices the folks on the lower end of the economic scale are given, they'll always have less than those above them. I don't think that giving them more housing choices will help as much as giving them more opportunities to improve their income whether that's through education or reasonable wages.
    I think one of the arguments for "inclusionary zoning" and other strategies to create mixed-income (which may also translate to, or be used as "code" mixed-ethnicity) environments is to help locate those with low incomes to areas where access to better opportunities are more readily available.

    This concept is applied to access to better quality schools as well as jobs. There have been many studies that analyze the difficulties low income earners often have in simply getting to better paying job opportunities (that is, that skill was only one factor in people having low wages - access being another). Bus lines don't run where they need to go, They may not have a car, etc.

    There is also a school of thought that great concentrations of poverty tend to breed more poverty in successive generations because people growing up in those environments are not exposed to all the possible opportunities available or don't recognize their potentials because they lack role models. If the majority of adults one sees around are out of work, for example, a work ethic may be difficult to instill in successive generations.

    I also agree that it is very difficult to pin down "sameness." In America, we tend to emphasize ethnicity as one of the most important of these commonalities, but age group, religion, occupation, hobbies, political affiliation, family (versus singles), geography, and a more general sense of "ethics" or "morality" are just some examples of areas that bring people together and that may cut across ethnicity. One complication is that culture cuts across a great many of these categories as well and so separating these elements can be a challenge. Thus, white suburbians may fear urban African-Americans or Latinos because of what they THINK they are like (and by extension, block a development that might bring "those people" to town). In my own personal opinion, what people often confuse as a fear of a particular ethnicity (what we tend to call "race," which is a massive biological overstatement and simply a social construct) is actually a fear of poverty and a sense that exposure to it may spell a breakdown of a more "civilized" lifestyle.

    As humans, we are a very confused lot at times.

    At the same time, culture is constantly in flux and new traditions, feelings of commonality and "sameness" are constantly emerging. One should not underestimate the human capacity to form new cultural identities as what was prevalent last generation may be turned on its head in this one (follow a family from the time of immigration through two generations and you will see a remarkable shift in identity, for example). Emphasizing those same old categories can pigeon-hole folks and downplay the emergence of new potential alliances (such as African-Americans being often asked "as a black man/woman, how do you feel about X?" instead of just asking "How do you feel about X?").

    My two centavos.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Slightly Off-Center
    Posts
    8,260
    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    It is far more beneficial in the long run that someone with some intelligence and drive is able to interact with a neighbor that will help them network with those who could use their job skills.
    Good point, especially if that interaction actually takes place. It's no accident that people from affluent communities can raise mediocre children who are successful in achieving financial success themselves.

  9. #9
    I haven't read this book but I have extensive experience with the literature on the history and social/economic/health effects of racial segregation. I have also published articles on the health effects of segregation. All in all, segregation's effects have been terrible terrible terrible (it is almost impossible to put into words) and include increased infant mortality and lifetime economic hardships. It is also illegal and it persists at least in part because people will lie, with hold information on available units, steer others away and sometimes resort to violence to keep Blacks and others out of their neighborhoods.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    Posts
    410
    Wouldn't it be quite boring if everyone was "alike?"

    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    People are only "alike" culturally and socially because they live together and interact with each other. If we all lived together, we would all be a lot more "alike."

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Clayobyrne, CB
    Posts
    2,581
    Quote Originally posted by PennPlanner View post
    Wouldn't it be quite boring if everyone was "alike?"
    Agreed, but my comment was referring specifically to racial identity and segregation in the United States. I see it as more of a chicken or egg problem.

    Racial identity evolves from racial segregation and vice versa.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Heaven or Las Vegas
    Posts
    916
    Racial identity evolves from racial segregation and vice versa.
    Which brings up the question of whether racial identity can be preserved while integrating more fully. Is it worth preservation, even if the cost is fewer economic opportunities and a greater likelihood of a violent death? What about the assimilation programs of the US gov for Native Americans? Was that a good thing for them?

    I've seen many examples of the type of situation ofos described. I've known people who moved to wealther areas when I was growing up. As I stayed in touch over the years, they seemed more luckely to end up again in more upscale communities and to find jobs that paid well enough to allow them to live there. OTOH, there were guys from the wealthier towns who got so into drugs or alcohol that they ended up living in some rather rough 'hoods.
    Adrift in a sea of beige

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Missed opportunity?
    Career Development and Advice
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 25 Jun 2011, 3:33 PM
  2. Replies: 0
    Last post: 31 Mar 2009, 11:05 PM
  3. [IowaAPA] CM opportunity
    APA Iowa Chapter
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 31 Mar 2009, 11:05 PM