Segregation in Spatial Proximity and the Vertical Idiom

Segregation is usually understood as the unequal spatial distribution of class and/or ethnic groups, which leads to forming neighbourhoods with different socioeconomic and/or ethnic profiles. The emphasis on this ‘horizontal’ or neighbourhood form of sociospatial separation is related to the dominant urbanization path of the metropolis in the Anglophone world, which expanded to increasingly distant and socially homogeneous low-rise suburbs.

 In most other parts of the world, however, cities have evolved in much more compact ways and this has considerably affected the ways their space has been appropriated by the unequal groups which inhabit them. One of these ways is vertical segregation or vertical social/ethnic differentiation in high-rise areas. This form is well known for Paris in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; it has re-emerged –although in a different shape– in cities of Southern Europe, like Athens or Naples, and can be expected to be present in any high-rise urban area where quality and price are related to floor level –therefore to most large cities in East Asia, Latin America and in many other places, including cities of the Anglophone world where gentrification has often produced new types of social mix.

 This session invites papers discussing vertical or other forms of segregation that bring different social and ethnic groups in close spatial proximity. The focus is on the ways such forms have been promoted (i.e. as the outcome of targeted policies or as the unintended consequence of other processes and/or policies); on the particular social strata and the range of inequality involved in these forms; on the relation of these with other forms of segregation; and on the ways the particular form of spatial proximity for the groups involved becomes an advantage or a disadvantage for social proximity.


Thomas Maloutas, Harokopio University, Athens