Chapter 1.2: Residential Succession: How "Losers" Win



List of Tables, Maps, Illustrations, and Figures


1. Symbolism, Self and Urban Environment
    Residential Succession: How "Losers" Win
    Negro Pioneers and White Flight
    Relative Selectability among Minority Invaders
    Symbolic History and Self
    Symbolic History: Modern and Ancient Foundations

2. Self Selection and Urban Decay
    The Social Character of the Manor

3. Woodland to City Neighborhood: 300 Years of Change
    Indians, Geology and Transportation
    Protecting the Community: Covenant and Zoning
    Increasing Community Parameters

4. Invasion and Succession

    Irish and Italian Catholics
    Veterans: Undesirable Heroes
    Blacks and the Special Problems of Nonwhite Invaders
    Back to City Brownstones: A Confused Invasion
    The Invasion Mentality

5. Micrological Aspects of Urban Problems
    Involuntary Change: Aging and Death
    Attidues of Heirs
    Apartment Houses: The Big Change
    The Life of a Tenant and a Building
    Understanding Intricate Urban Problems

6. Stigma and Self-Image in the Inner City
    Achievement and Residentia Movement
    The Moral Careers of Inner-City Residents
    The Community Paradigm
    Implications and Applications


The usual methods for studying the phenomenon of urban neighborhood residential succession are generally ecological in orientation. These methods emphasize the necessarily commensal relations between potentially competitive groups in regard to residential space, and other local territorial objects such as streets, parks and stores. Historically, the opponents in these urban territorial contests have been defined in ethnic, racial, religious or social class terms. Some, also, as Wolf and Lebeaux have done, employ "have" and "have not" terminology. The data for ecological studies are most often drawn from decennial, special and other census reports, and is sometimes supplemented by independent demographic surveys. Ecological studies of residential succession in inner-city neighborhoods most often arrive at the illogical conclusion that "losers win," that is, lower status and less powerful groups, over time, conquer contested areas. The earliest studies of residential succession in American cities focused on European immigrant groups such as Eastern European Jews, Poles, Irish, and Southern Italians. Since about 1940, succession in the city seems to be a scenario in which blacks, Hispanics and other non-European ethnic groups are the major characters who battle entrenched "whites". Increasingly, in cities such as New York the traditional black-white confrontations are being augmented by a melange of black, white, Asian, Middle-Eastern and Hispanic contests over local territory. There has also been some intra-ethnic group rivalry as well; for example, Caribbean vs. American blacks, Cubans vs. Puerto Ricans, etc.

Although both "common knowledge," and generalizations from "scientific" studies of urban residential succession similarly argue that the people who invade city communities tend to be of lower socioeconomic status than those whom they ultimately defeat and replace, logic should lead us to question this scientific folklore of city life. Besides logic, there is also a growing array of data that disputes the point. Some of the most interesting contradictory data concerning the social status of traditional black invaders is here provided by Taeuber and Taeuber from their important work, Negroes in Cities:

Turning to the characteristics of Negroes living in Invasion Tracts and Negro Areas in the six Northern and border cities, two general observations may be made: (1) Negroes in invasion tracts are of higher educational and occupational status, are more likely to be homeowners, and less likely to be crowded than Negro Areas. Movement into previously all-white areas is clearly led by high-status Negroes. (2) Negroes in invasion tracts are often of higher educational status and more likely to be homeowners than whites in these tracts, both before and after invasion. Not only are high-status Negroes the first to enter all-white neighborhoods but owner-occupancy is apparently a major avenue of entry into the new neighborhood. That incoming Negroes are not of higher occupational status than in the white population reflects the fact that Negro occupational levels are not consistent with their levels of educational attainment, in large part because of job discrimination.... These findings support an obviously plausible supposition that high-status persons of whatever color tend to seek out the best available areas of residence. (1965:163-64)

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