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Social Forces Colloquium Series: Maria Krysan, University of Illinois at Chicago

January 16, 2019 @ 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Cycle of Segregation: Social Processes and Residential Stratification

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed housing discrimination by race and provided an important tool for dismantling legal segregation. But almost fifty years later, residential segregation remains virtually unchanged in many metropolitan areas, particularly where large groups of racial and ethnic minorities live. Why does segregation persist at such high rates? In Cycle of Segregation, sociologists Maria Krysan and Kyle Crowder examine how everyday social processes shape residential stratification. Past neighborhood experiences, social networks, and daily activities all affect the mobility patterns of different racial groups in ways that have cemented segregation as a self-perpetuating cycle in the twenty-first century.

Through original analyses of national-level surveys and in-depth interviews with residents of Chicago, Krysan and Crowder propose a new framework for understanding segregation: the social structural sorting perspective. This framework focuses on how people end up living where they do, and demonstrates how segregation both shapes that process, and is an outcome of it. For example, people rely heavily on information from friends, family, and coworkers when choosing where to live. Because these social networks tend to be racially homogenous, people are likely to receive information primarily from members of their own racial group and move to neighborhoods that are also dominated by their group. Because historical segregation has shaped social networks and lived experiences, even these seemingly race-neutral decisions help reinforce the cycle of residential stratification.

To overcome this cycle, Krysan and Crowder advocate multilevel policy solutions that pair inclusionary zoning and affordable housing with education and public relations campaigns that emphasize neighborhood diversity and high-opportunity areas. They argue that together, such programs can expand the number of destinations available to low-income residents and help offset the negative images many people hold about certain neighborhoods or help introduce them to places they had never considered.


January 16, 2019
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM