Why are racially integrated city districts so rare

Poverty in Germany

Hartmut Häussermann

To person

Dr. rer. pol., born 1943; Urban and regional sociologist, professor em. at the Institute for Social Sciences at the Humboldt University in Berlin; Res urbana GmbH, Kollwitzstrasse 74, 10435 Berlin. [email protected]

Poverty can become entrenched when there is a high concentration of poor in a neighborhood. A professionally integrated urban planning is required to counter this problem.


Does the place where they live make poor people poorer? That is the question that urban sociologists, poverty researchers and urban politicians have to ask themselves in view of the increasing concentration of poverty in a few parts of the big cities. Of course, people do not get poor from where they live, but poverty - this is the central assumption - can become entrenched and inherited when there is a high concentration of poor in a neighborhood. In urban politics, various strategies are therefore also being discussed as to how this problem should be dealt with. In the United States, the government has a clear answer: deconcentration, that is, spatial redistribution of poor households, demolition of the worst ghettos and construction of new ones mixed income housing- Quarters. The French government is pursuing a similar strategy, building large-scale apartment blocks in the banlieue in large cities and building new social housing in as many cities as possible. In Germany, too, the federal government, states and municipalities have addressed this problem since 1999 with the "Socially Integrative City" program, aiming to prevent the decoupling of quarters in which social problems are concentrated and to improve the life prospects of their residents . The program is based in the area of ​​urban development funding, so it is directly related to urban planning.

Before thinking about interventions, however, it must be clarified what connections are assumed between a residential area and the poverty of its residents. These exist in two ways: on the one hand, it is about the location, facilities and the image of a quarter, which can make it difficult for residents to access social and cultural public services and the labor market; on the other hand, it is about the "context effects" that occur when a social environment has an unfavorable influence on the thinking, acting and normative orientations of its residents.