Spatial segmentation and the black middle class

AJS. 2014 Jan;119(4):903-54. doi: 10.1086/674561.


Ethnographic studies of the black middle class focus attention on the ways in which residential environments condition the experiences of different segments of the black class structure. This study places these arguments in a larger demographic context by providing a national analysis of neighborhood inequality and spatial inequality of different racial and ethnic groups in urban America. The findings show that there has been no change over time in the degree to which majority-black neighborhoods are surrounded by spatial disadvantage. Predominantly black neighborhoods, regardless of socioeconomic composition, continue to be spatially linked with areas of severe disadvantage. However, there has been substantial change in the degree to which middle- and upper-income African-American households have separated themselves from highly disadvantaged neighborhoods. These changes are driven primarily by the growing segment of middle- and upper-income African-Americans living in neighborhoods in which they are not the majority group, both in central cities and in suburbs.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Cities*
  • Demography
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Urban Population*