The Political Economy of the Urban Ghetto

The Political Economy of the Urban Ghetto

The Political Economy of the Urban Ghetto

The Political Economy of the Urban Ghetto

Synopsis

The income of blacks in most northern industrial states today is lower relative to the income of whites than in 1949. Fusfeld and Bates examine the forces that have led to this state of affairs and find that these economic relationships are the product of a complex pattern of historical development and change in which black-white economic relationships play a major part, along with patterns of industrial, agricultural, and technological change and urban development. They argue that today's urban racial ghettos are the result of the same forces that created modern America and that one of the by-products of American affluence is a ghettoized racial underclass.

These two themes, they state, are essential for an understanding of the problem and for the formulation of policy. Poverty is not simply the result of poor education, skills, and work habits but one outcome of the structure and functioning of the economy. Solutions require more than policies that seek to change people: they await a recognition that basic economic relationships must be changed.

Excerpt

American cities present a series of paradoxes. Urban areas are growing larger and contain an increasing portion of the population; yet, at the same time, their density is diminishing, and urban sprawl is growing. On the one hand, cities are the dynamic center of the economy and support thriving cultural activities, on the other, the central cores are disintegrating and deteriorating. Cities are economic units in which the various parts are highly articulated and closely integrated with each other; but, in other respects, cities are full of conflict, animosity, and hatred. These paradoxes are the outward aspect of the malaise that grips American urban life. They are manifestations of the urban problem of our time.

American urban areas have serious problems that remain unresolved, not because the means for their solution are unavailable, but because the social and economic conflicts that are built into American society prevent us from taking effective action. At the heart of that conflict are extremes of wealth and poverty exacerbated by the fact that racial differences and economic differences overlap. The inner portions of the central cities are poor, black, and Hispanic (with other minority groups also represented), while the suburbs are affluent and largely white. The result is continuing warfare between central city and suburb, rich and poor, white and black; a warfare that is usually . . .

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