Measuring the Stability of Multi-Racial, Multicultural Neighborhoods
Richard A. Smith
Planning in a multicultural society requires planners to address issues concerning the multicultural use of space. This issue converts to one of planning for and accommodating racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Unfortunately, much of the classical literature on neighborhood diversity suggests that it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Mixed neighborhoods are viewed as inherently unstable ( Aldrich 1975; Duncan and Duncan 1957; Molotch 1972; Schelling 1972), resulting from both housing market dynamics that make possible the separation of different racial and ethnic groups, as well as the protection of single race neighborhoods and communities from the entry of racial and ethnic minorities ( Danielson 1976; Massey and Denton 1993; Turner, Struyk, and Yinger 1991). Thus, in the most common conception, neighborhoods are seen as changing from majority (White) to minority (Black) over time, and integration (or diversity) 1 is a temporary condition that exists only between the arrival of the first Black and the departure of the last White household.
Some evidence exists to contradict this conception of the instability of diverse places. An important component of this evidence is a series of studies of racially integrated communities, such as Shaker Heights, Ohio; Oak Park and Park Forest, Illinois; and others ( DeMarco and Galster 1993; Goodwin 1979; Helper 1986; Keating 1994; Saltman 1990). Such places, however, have come to our attention because they are offered in contrast to models of neighborhood instability and transition. As such, they appear to be exceptions to the general conception of racial instability rather than as readily adaptable models; they suggest what can work under special circumstances rather than what does work under more usual conditions. Indeed, in one of the most comprehensive studies of integrated neighborhoods, Saltman suggests that such neighborhoods are "fragile," dependent on a series of critical conditions that will not always exist, and support from city administrations that will not always be forthcoming. Similar themes are suggested