Social exclusionas a recent term is now widely used in debates about social politics, especially in Europe (Dobrowolsky and Lister, 2005; Barnes, 2005). The French bureaucrat René Lenoir is given credit of authorship of this term in his Les Exclus, first published in 1974. To some extent ‘the socially excluded’ has replaced the pejorative American import, ‘the underclass,’ in discussion about the poor in Europe, in particular (Byrne, 1999, 1). Also, some European policy circles seem to prefer ‘social exclusion’ to ‘poverty,’ which they see as a narrow-if not accusatory or radical-term (Munck, 2005; Saunders, 2003). Indeed, ‘social exclusion’ is increasingly used to broaden the conventional framework that see poverty primarily as a lack of income and resources relative to need-a conceptualization popularized by Peter Townsend in his 1979 opus, Poverty in the United Kingdom. Not surprisingly, by the time the European Union (EU) launched its 3rd five-year anti-poverty program in 1990, the emphasis had already shifted from ‘poverty’ to concerns over social exclusion (Munck, 2005, 22).
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‘Social exclusion’ is a dialectical concept, which focuses on causes, processes, and their attended agencies (Silver, 2007 and 1995; Bradshaw et al., 2004; Sen, 2000; Gordon et al., 2000; Oyen, 1997). Not only that, the concept is imbued with dynamism and multidimensionality which facilitate its use as an umbrella term for a host of social and disadvantages including, social isolation, marginalization, poverty, deprivation, discrimination, powerlessness, and even socio-cultural Othering. Additionally the notion of social exclusion provides a bridge to discussions of equality and citizenship, and helps bring segregation and other issues of spatial marginalization to the fore of policy debates (Saunders, 2003; Pierson, 2002; OECD, 1997; Bader, 1997; Paugam, 1991; Marshall, 1950).
The objective of this paper is to review literature on social and spatial exclusion with a particular emphasis on the causes of social and spatial exclusion in Canada. My specific objectives are: to review the existing Canadian and comparative literature on social and spatial exclusion, highlighting the characteristics, at-risk groups, and more importantly causes of social and spatial exclusion in the Canadian context; to describe the forms and characteristics of socio-spatial exclusion in Canada; and to examine the extent to which social and spatial processes and patterns feed into each other to exacerbate or otherwise alleviate the socio-spatial exclusion in diverse situations and locations. However, the paper will focus on issues such as: experiences of exclusion in schools, neighbourhoods, workplace or lack of access to work; transportation problems or spatial constraints in the city; encounter with law-enforcement, racial profiling; and lack of access to sports and recreational facilities.
My research paper is informed by Edward Soja’s socio-spatial dialectics. Simply put, Soja argues that social processes and patterns are inseparable from spatial processes and patterns. Thus they feed into each other in such a way that they tend to be both caused and effect of a phenomenon like social exclusion at the same time. The extent to which minority groups are spatially excluded into neighbourhoods feeds into their social exclusion and vice versa. For instance, one is socially excluded from employment because the same person is spatially secluded from where the jobs are. The two processes feed into each other dialectically, thus employment can be the cause of the person’s spatial seclusion, and it can also be the consequence at the same-there lies the power of dialectics. Another theoretical grounding guiding this research paper is that of Postmodernists argument (Derrida and Foucault) that opposites are not conceptually mutually exclusive, but rather mutually supportive. Thus, we can not graspthe causes of social exclusion without some understanding of the causes of social inclusion and integration.
Relevance of this study/review
The review will invariably probe some of our existing views on poverty, deprivation, citizenships, integration, identity and even multiculturalism, and by so doing offer the conceptual apparatus for thinking critically about social and spatial disadvantage in Canada
Given the multidimensionality of ‘social exclusion,’ it is apposite to bring some definitional clarity to bear on the discussion at this stage. If nothing at all, such a theoretical grounding would help alleviate the possible tensions between the scientific and theoretical uses of the concept (Burstern, 2005). The notion of social exclusive holds considerable promise for the study of poverty and other social disadvantages in society. However, despite, or because of its versatility and adaptability, there is always the temptation to dress up all kinds of deprivations as ‘social exclusion’ (Sen, 2000). To eschew ambiguity-and, by implication, to gain the most from the social exclusion perspective-we need to be as clear as possible on what constitute ‘social exclusion’ and what its main features are in the context of any research. Such a definitional clarity will not only bolster the theoretical development of the social exclusion paradigm, but will also facilitate efforts to measure its key proxies and indicators.
While ‘poverty’ and ‘social exclusion’ are sometimes used interchangeably, there is now a growing consensus that the latter serves to broaden the analysis of the former to include matters of equality, citizenship, human dignity, and other social disadvantages that go beyond the mere lack of income or resources, relative to needs-or what Peter Townsend (1979) calls ‘relative deprivation.With the proliferation of the literature has come a widespread debate on the definition of ‘social exclusion’ and a burgeoning list of ‘the socially excluded’ and the things, or spheres of life, from which people may be excluded-the latter includes anything from employment, education, minimal consumption levels, credit, land, housing, skills, and social capital to public goods, respect, family life and sociability (Sen, 2000; 1999; 1987; Gore and Silver, 1995). The UK Social Exclusion Unit (SEU) defines ‘social exclusion’ as “a shorthand label for what can happen when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown”. In a fairly recent paper, the Brown University Sociologist Hilary Silver defined social exclusion as “a dynamic process of progressive multidimensional rupturing of the ‘social bond’ at the individual and collective levels” (2007, p. 1). By social bond she meant the “social relations, institutions, and imagined identities of belonging constituting social cohesion, integration, or solidarity” (Silver, 2007, 1). To get, or to formulate, a strong definition of ‘social exclusion,’ which is beyond reproach is virtually impossible. In addition to its disarming simplicity, it acknowledges the process-character, dynamism, and multidimensionality of social exclusion. Moreover, it highlights the fact that the rapture of social bond could occur at both the individual and group levels. Social exclusion can occur at various different levels and through various different mechanisms. In the Canadian context, social exclusion is a form of alienation and denial of full citizenship experienced by particular groups of individuals and communities. Its characteristics occur in multiple dimensions. Thus social exclusion is manifested through structural inequalities in access to social, economic, political and cultural resources (GSDRC). Structural inequalities persist on the basis of income, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and immigration status. These inequalities in turn generate health disparities and increased health risks among affected groups (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004).
Generally, social exclusion is concerned with “Wider causes and consequences of deprivation” based on power relations within society (Social Exclusion Unit, 2004) and it deals with the structures and dynamics of inequality and disadvantage with respect to opportunities available, and access to resources at various levels (e.g. social, economic, cultural, institutional, political) (Galabuzi, 2004). It is a multi-dimensional concept that includes: (a) labour market exclusion (e.g. unemployment, underemployment), (b) economic exclusion (e.g. poverty), (c) institutional exclusion (e.g. structural discrimination), (d) social isolation (e.g. reduction of social network and social contacts), (e) cultural exclusion (e.g. inability to live according to the culturally accepted norms and values), and (f) spatial exclusion (e.g. poor housing , insecure and unsafe residential areas (Byrne, 2003). For instance, in Canada’s urban areas, the spatial concentration of poverty or residential segregation is intensifying along racial lines. Immigrants in Toronto and Montreal are more likely than non-immigrants to live in neighbourhoods with high rates of poverty. Young immigrants living in low income areas often struggle with alienation from their parents and community of origin and from the broader society. They are also the disproportionate target of crime and criminalization (Galabuzi, 2007).
On another front, Silver and Miller (2003) note that because of its relativity, multidimensionality, and sensitivity to the contexts of time and space, social exclusion is hard to measure empirically (Silver and Miller, 2003). The key problem here relates to which indicators to include in any measure of social exclusion, given its complex multidimensionality. Also, there is a debate over whether to rely on multiple measures of social exclusion or on a composite index, or even on some threshold of social exclusion comparable to the poverty line in poverty research (Silver and Miller, 2003). However, given that the main issue with social exclusion is not so much of whether there is a higher social exclusion this year than last year, or whether social exclusion is higher in say Ontario than say British Columbia, but of identifying the forms, derivers, and mechanics of social exclusion in all of their multiplicities and nuances, the case for a composite index is, indeed, weak (Saunders, 2003). Additionally, the fact that the at-risk groups vary spatiotemporally makes it difficult to develop a generally acceptable composite index of social exclusion.
Hague (1999), argues that many people from all walks of life experience exclusion and they may well not be the usual suspects on low income or in social housing for example. Social exclusion requires that we address process that prevent full citizenship and participation in all aspects of society but also the assumptions that underlie these goals and even whether the excluded want to be included. There can be no doubt that moving beyond the examination of ‘poverty’ measured by income and consumption levels, towards a recognition of mutually reinforcing conditions of multiple deprivation is a worthwhile step in the direction of tackling these fundamental problems. Yet this recognition is, in itself, not new. The issue remains that by determining research and policy as social exclusion we should be asking different questions about the process of exclusion, rather than the same questions about the outcome of being excluded.
Hague focus on the processes of exclusion which other authors have not looked at. This explains the concept of dialectics which is a good method for understanding the concept of social and spatial exclusion as a process and a pattern which influences one another but can occur independent of one another.
From the preceding it is clear that ‘social exclusion’ is a phenomenon by which an individual or a group in a particular society is marginalized or excluded (either fully or partially) from participating in activities which determine the social integration of people in the society in question (Walker and Walker, 1997, 8). In addition to being a multidimensional process, social exclusion is inherently contextual, relational, and agent-driven-in the sense that it entails an active relationship between opposing agents: ‘the excluder’ and ‘the excluded.’ Furthermore, as a phenomenon, social exclusion can occur, and be caused, at the individual (i.e., micro) level; the community or group (i.e., meso) level; and the institutional and inter/national (i.e., macro) levels. Individuals, families and larger groups can suffer social exclusion though there is often an overlap between micro and macro level causes and consequences of exclusion (Whitley, 2005). Emerging global trends such as globalization and neo-liberalism are also implicated in social exclusion (Wilson, 1997; Young, 1999, and Munck, 2005).
Still it would be a mistake to assume that the social exclusion framework has so far been beyond reproach in the policy arena. As Amartya Sen rightly points out “the impression of an indiscriminate listing of problems under the broad heading of ‘social exclusion’ and of a lack of discipline in selection, combined with the energy and excitement with which the concepts has been advocated for adoption â€¦.has had the effect of putting off some of the experts on poverty and deprivation” (2000, p. 2). Notwithstanding these concerns, the literature on social exclusion continues to grow unabated, especially in Europe, with UK, France, Germany, and the EU taking the lead in this scholarship ( Atkinson, 1998). UK for one now has a Center for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, and a Social Exclusion Unit at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Outside Europe, the social exclusion perspective has made some inroads (albeit relatively limited) into discussions on poverty and deprivation in the United States (Silver, 2007; Silver and Miller, 2003), Australia (Saunders, 2003, Whiteford, 2001), and Canada (Gallabuzi, 2006; Burstein, 2005; Williams, 2004; Voyer, 2003), as well as among international organizations such as the ILO (2004) and the World Bank (2002; 2000). Additionally, development analysts such as Munck (2005), Hoogvelt (2001), Kelles-Viitanen (1998) and O’Brien et al., (1996) have used the concept of ‘social exclusion’ to examine the marginalization wrought by contemporary neo-liberal globalization upon the people of the global south.
After a comprehensive understanding of social and spatial exclusion, I now turn to focus on specific cases of exclusion in both Canada and other parts of the world.In April 2003, two Ontario law schools approved significant increases to their tuition fees, marking a rise from approximately $2,451 in 1995 to $16,000 for the 2003-04 at the University of Toronto and from $3,228 in 1997 to approximately $8,961 in 2003 at Queen’s University. Further, the University of Toronto intends to increase tuition fees until they total $22,000 and Queen’s University has projected to increase its fees to $12,856 by 2005. Concerns regarding the impact of tuition fees on individuals from historically subordinate communities have been addressed by a number of organizations. For example, Statistics Canada data indicates that 38.7% of youth aged 18-21 years from wealthy families attended university compared to 18.8% of youth from poorer families. In the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Missing Pieces IV it is suggested that higher tuition fees result in lower participation and that “Researchers at the University of Guelph found that 40% fewer students from low-income families were attending University after tuition fees rose.” The Canadian Association of University Teachers suggests that, if current trends continue, access to post-secondary education will be increasingly divided along income lines. Recent census data indicates that Aboriginal peoples and individuals from subordinate racialized groups tend to fall below the Low-Income Cut off (LICO) more so than others. The result of this is lowered earnings, leaving them less able to support the educational advancement of their children (Smith, 2004)
The recent legislation in France forbidding the wearing of veils in public schools is clear reaffirmation of assimilation over the ideas of multicultural citizenship (Mitchell, 2004). Although France never adopted as active a multicultural policy line as other European countries, the recent popular and parliamentary diatribes against veil-wearing in public schools manifest a particularly strong entrenchment of the Republic idea of laicite’-the separation of church and state and of the public and private spheres (Mitchell, 2004). Despite the assurances of politicians and educators that negotiations with Muslim girls and their families would resolve most controversies, the end result of the legislation forbidding veils in public schools will be the exclusion of large number of Muslim girls from the public education system. Indeed, this has already occurred (Bernard, 2003) cited in Mitchell, 2004.
Most of the literatures are concentrated on adult social exclusion in various countries, Barker (2010) writes about fixed-term exclusion from UK schools as a disciplinary measure that head teachers can use to deal with incidents of serious misbehaviour. A fixed-term exclusion can last up to 5 days in any one period and places responsibility on parents/carer to ensure the young person not present in a public place during normal school hours ad that work sent home is completed and returned to school. In order that exclusion does not function as a reward (time off school), and in order that excluded students receive education and adequate supervision, a given number of schools in the UK have developed school-based internal exclusion also known as Seclusion Unit or remove rooms. Typically, in seclusion, students can not socialize with friends, are closely supervised and taught intensely (on a staff-student ratio approaching 1:1 and therefore should be more, not less, focused on learning whilst excluded from the classroom. Whilst part of a broader approach to supporting students at risk of exclusion, seclusion is distinct from existing support services such as Learning Support Units or In-School Centre ( McKeon 2001; Hallam and Castle 2001) because access is restricted to those who have been required to attend as punishment. These new types of school spaces have been considered Controversial, in that some discussions have suggested that their highly punitive nature violates children’s rights.
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Furthermore, their presence can be seen as an example of the inexorable rise of the surveillance society in the UK through a diverse number of strategies of surveillance in public and private spaces (Sibley 2008), and in particular the policing and surveillance of young people (Matthews et al. 2000; Ansell 2009). However, there is little research that considers the effectiveness of Seclusion Units or that explores young people’s views of these spaces. There should therefore be comprehensive evaluation of the efficacy of Seclusion.
Poverty is one of the key factors in exclusion. The CCSD report, The Progress of Canada’s Children 2002, found that children living in poor families are less likely to have positive experiences at school, and they are less likely to participate in recreation. As well, children who live in persistent poverty are twice as likely to live in a “dysfunctional” family; they are twice as likely to live with violence, and more than three times as likely to live with a depressed parent – all risk factors for social exclusion and eventual criminality. Unfortunately, child poverty in Canada shows no signs of diminishing. While the rate decreased slightly in the latter half of the 1990s, the latest figures indicate a child poverty rate of 15.6% – nearly one in six children. That is even higher than the rate of 15.2% recorded in 1989 when the House of Commons unanimously committed to eliminate child poverty by the year 2000. Instead, the number of children going hungry and the number of families becoming homeless increased substantially throughout the 1990s, further excluding these Canadians ( )
In terms of labour market exclusion, Frances Henry and Effie Ginzberg (1985) tested this in Canada where job applicants, matched with respect to age, sex, educational and employment histories were sent to answer advertisements for jobs as listed in the classified section of a major Toronto newspaper. Each applicant carried resumes which had been carefully constructed to meet the requirements of the jobs being tested. The job applicants were as similar to each other as possible and the only major difference between testers was that of race. Racial discrimination was said to occur when the White applicants received a greater proportion of job offers than the non-White applicants; when the White applicants were called back for a second interview in greater proportions than the non-White applicants; and, when the White applicants were treated fairly and courteously whereas the Blacks were accorded rude, negative and sometimes blatantly hostile treatment. It is widely assumed that biological and cultural features provide meaningful grounds for sorting people into what are commonly known as racial and ethnic groups. In particular, superficial physical traits are regarded as logical grounds for classifying people into racial groups; skin colour, for example, is generally held to be the most obvious and salient characteristic in differentiating between ‘White’ and ‘Coloured’ people (Li, 1999). The combination of physical as well as cultural traits provides an ever-widening basis for discriminating between ethnic groups. Throughout the history of Canada, physical and cultural characteristics, whether real or presumed, have been used to justify segregation and discrimination against groups such as the Chinese, Jews, Ukrainians, and Indians (Li, 1999).
In a similar vein, Mensah (2002) argues that disparities emerge between Blacks and their non-Black counterparts in nearly all Canadian provinces and territories regarding average income. In Ontario where the average annual income of $27,309 is the highest in the country, the corresponding figure for Blacks is $20,144, creating a deficit of $7,165 for the province’s Black population. By far, the highest income deficit for Blacks is recorded in Quebec where the provincial average stood at $23,198 and the comparable figure for Blacks was a mere $15,483-a deficit ratio of 66 cents for every dollar. Ironically, the provincial unemployment rate in Quebec is more than two times higher than the unemployment rate for Blacks in that province (Mensah, 2002). Pooled together, the preceding evidence suggests that the high unemployment rate and low average income for Blacks have little to do with the educational background of Blacks (Mensah, 2002). Again, Hum and Simpson ( ), find that visible minority status results in wages about 6% less than other Canadians after allowing for the effects of accumulated human capital, current labour market activity, immigration, gender, language, location, etc. This estimate is significantly different from zero. Looking at particular visible minority groups, they find the following statistical significant results: blacks receive 13% less than non-visible minority Canadians, Indo-Pakistani persons receive 5.5% less, Latin Americans receive 12% less, and non-Chinese Orientals receive about 8% less. Chinese, however, do not receive less than non-visible minorities in Canada.
Laryea and Hayfron ( ), analyze that there are significant earning gaps between African-born immigrants and their Canadian-born counterparts. This occurs even though African-born immigrants tend to have a higher level of education than their Canadian-born counterparts. The findings also indicate that African-born immigrants are less likely to be employed in a high-skilled occupation, implying and underutilization of their skills. This may partly explain the low returns on their education. Previous studies in Canada seem to suggest the existence of race-based barriers in the Canadian labour market. The type of barrier varies by gender and racial origin of immigrants (Li 2000) quoted in Laryea and Hayfron ( ). The oft-cited barrier has to do with the non-recognition of foreign credentials, as well as with employment discrimination against visible minorities with identifiable linguistics and racial features (Henry and Ginzberg 1985).
Ethnic resentment has been fuelled by socioeconomic deprivation and a sense of desperation. Competition for scarce local opportunities combined with economic marginalisation to fuel resentment, especially as stories grew of Whites getting better jobs and better housing estates, and of Asians receiving preferential welfare support (Amin, 2002). According to Amin 2002, social deprivation too exacerbated ethnic differences, for it removed part of the material wel-being and social worth that can help in reducing jealousy and aggression towards others seen to be competing for the same resources (Amin, 2002). Segregation in housing led to segregation in education and a record of poor results in both White and Asian areas because of deprivation, and because of a schooling system “mired in a culture of failure” (Kundani, 2001, page 107) and family/community dissatisfaction, quoted from Amin, 2002.
William (1993) reflects on the social and spatial inequalities in the informal economy across the European Community. He further explains that the informal economic activity reinforces and reflects the contemporary pattern of social and spatial inequality produced by the informal economy. In his analysis, he criticized Rooney 1990, as having paid little attention to the informal economy, especially when studying advanced industrial nations. This stance has been criticized, however, for its exclusion of much of women’s lives. For example, McDowell (1989), argues that this definition of economic geography acts as a source of women’s oppression, implying that their work in the informal economy is less important than tasks conducted through employment. He identifies two types of social inequality in the informal economy: namely intra- and inter-household inequalities. Evidence from EC countries concerning intra-household inequalities reveals that whether employed or housewives; it is women who take responsibility for the major share of housework, childcare and other caring duties at all stages in the lifecycle (Boh et al 1989; Williams 1988).In addition, Hubbard (1999) comments on how female sex workers suffer specific forms of inequality and oppression as a result of their failure to conform to the dominant moral codes as stated also in Corbin 1990; Walkowitz 1992; Wilson 1995. Hubbard emphasized that female prostitute has always played an important role in the definition of moral standards and, as such, it is unsurprising that there is abundant writing in the social sciences focusing on the way that prostitute have traditionally been represented by metaphors of degeneracy, contagion and promiscuity.
From the ongoing discussion, it is realized that most people face exclusion in one form or the other based on certain characteristics such as woman or people in minority groups and Ghanaian Immigrants might not be an exception to these forms of exclusion. For example, Tucker (2008) explains how a racial group, particularly the non-whites in South African are maltreated and prevented from mingling with the white in a “gay” village in Cape Town. The village is home to several bars, clubs, restaurants, shops and villas. Also, this village has become a centre piece for the city’s tourism agenda. The non-whites are denied from accessing these facilities at the gay village. It’s racism, basically. It is pure racismâ€¦.which is quite sad, because a lot of people would come, may be, from JO’burg (Johannesburg) or the Eastern Cape or all the way, and they want to go the gay club, where they can be free. And now they gay club and they are denied access to the place. You know. So it’s still racism (Melisizwe), stated in Tucker 2008.
Other forms of exclusion are outlined as Burgers (1996) comments on social exclusion in the Netherlands as first and foremost a matter of not having access to the formal labour market. Although members of ethnic minority groups are overrepresented among the socially excluded, the concept of underclass, as developed in Anglo-Saxon literature, has only limited relevance for the Dutch situation. If according to this literature, we define the potential Dutch underclass as those who are long-term unemployed, then closer analysis reveals that this category is clearly split along lines of ethnicity. However, Burger in his analysis of exclusion in Netherlands used some of indicators stated in the definition by Social Exclusion Unit by assessing ten neighbourhoods within Rotterdam on aggregate index of unemployment rates, the share of ethnic minorities, residential mobility, average age of housing stock, share of people living on social benefits and average educational level. Rotterdam had the poorest score and this could also be considered an index of social exclusion. Spangen is undoubtedly a deprived neighbourhood with a high level of social exclusion. Wacquant and Wilson 1993 as stated in Burger 1996, compares Spangen in Rotterdam with that of US ghettos by arguing that a decaying neighbourhood such as Spangen is much spatially integrated in the urban fabric than its US counterparts. If only for this reason, neighbourhoods as Spangen cannot so be abandoned by the state as seems to be the case in US ghettos. Though these articles are in favour of social exclusion they are Eurocentric and westernized. Therefore, generalizing and applying them to other parts of the world would be problematic.
Following the concept of social exclusion, Cebulla (1999) commented about how a section of England will be excluded from an insurance policy proposed by the government to increase the role of private business in social security, and suggests a preference for a welfare system based on mix of market and non-market/collective principle, which retains an element of compulsion to insure or save for retirement, sickness and employment. In the market place banking and insurance institutions use actuarial risk assessments, such as credit-rating scores, to estimate a loan or insurance seeker’s risk of defaulting. Such scores are used to decide whether to grant credit, a loan or insurance, and what cost, thus controlling the institution’s investment risk. Furthermore, the analysis indicates that the section of the population that were excluded had low socio-economic status. Structural studies of exclusion from financial services have demonstrated not only the socially discriminatory nature of exclusion, but also its spatial unevenness (Leyshon and Thrift 1995) cited in Cebulla (1999).
Furthermore, scholars have documented how people have been marginalized and excluded from their own places of residence. For example, Flusty ( ) documented how Downtown Los Angeles has become an agglomeration of pretty, homogenized spaces. It is a rarefied monolith of a place, where the individual who appears unable to afford the escalating price of prefabricated recreation has no option other than to be at home, at work, or in transit between the two. Thus, determination of whether any given individual fits this mix is left to plaza security and, according to guards, is made on the basis of overall appearance and behaviour.
Difficulties of reaching jobs may impose temporal and monetary costs on the poor, high enough to discourage them from participating fully in the labour market (Ellwood, 1986) cited in Mensah and Ironside ( ). In 1968, John Kain, formulated the spatial mismatch hypothesis where he argues that with increased suburbanization, lots of jobs which inner-city low-income people, most of whom are blacks qualify for have moved to the suburbs, but they can not afford the new buildings in the suburbs. Therefore, they are disconnected from where t
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