Letter: Segregation Has Been Consistently High
Byline: Dr RICHARD GALE
Dear Editor, Re article: "We're living in ghettoes' Conference: Ethnic communities segregated" (Post, July 13).
I was paraphrased in the article as having said that ethnic minority groups in Birmingham are "ghet-toised in the most poverty-stricken areas". However, I did not use the term "ghettoised", and I believe this is in fact a distortion of my argument.
Using data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses and a standard statistical measure of segregation (known as the Index of Segregation) I showed that overall, segregation in Birmingham has been consistently high, particularly for Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, although it has actually fallen slightly over the decade. (The Index also shows, incidentally, the next most highly segregated group after these two are whites, a fact that is too often missed in debates about segregation, which concentrates too exclusively on the residential patterns of minorities).
However, I was careful not to use the expressions "ghetto", "ghettoised" or "ghettoisation", for ethical and analytical reasons.
Firstly, in terms of ethics, these expressions are loaded with negative connotations that serve to stigmatise the residents of segregated areas, missing the extent to which particular areas of cities can be rich in social and cultural networks, which often provide an important bulwark against patterns of disadvantage.
Secondly, using a standard academic definition of "ghetto", the term does not apply well to the Birmingham or wider British context.
This definition has two linked components, which cannot be separated: 1) that members of any given ethnic group form the majority in an area or areas of a city, and 2) that the majority of members of that group live in such areas. …