Last updated
The main square of the Venetian Ghetto Ghetto (Venice) Panorama.jpg
The main square of the Venetian Ghetto
Jewish Quarter of Caltagirone Ingresso della Giudecca di Caltagirone.jpg
Jewish Quarter of Caltagirone

A ghetto (Italian pronunciation:  [ˈɡetto] ), often the ghetto, is usually a part of a city in which members of a minority group live, typically as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. [1] Ghettos are often known for being more impoverished than other areas of the city. Versions of the ghetto appear across the world, each with their own names, classifications, and groupings of people. The term was originally used for the Venetian Ghetto in Venice, Italy, as early as 1516, to describe the part of the city where Jews were restricted to live and thus segregated from other people. However, early societies may have formed their own versions of the same structure; words resembling "ghetto" in meaning appear in Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, Germanic, Old French, and Latin. Ghettos in many cities have also been nicknamed "the hood", colloquial slang for "neighbourhood" after it is shortened to 'hood. [2]


During the Holocaust, more than 1,000 Nazi ghettos were established to hold Jewish populations, with the goal of exploiting and killing the Jews as part of the Final Solution. [3] [4]

The term has been widely used in the United States to refer to inner city neighborhoods that are mainly African American or poor. Ghetto has deep cultural meaning in the United States, especially in the context of segregation and civil rights. It is also used in some European countries to refer to poor neighborhoods. [5]


The word "ghetto" comes from the Jewish area of Venice, the Venetian Ghetto in Cannaregio, traced to a special use of Venetian ghèto, or "foundry", as there was one near the site of that city's ghetto in 1516. [6] By 1899 the term had been extended to crowded urban quarters of other minority groups.

The etymology of the word is uncertain, as there is no agreement among etymologists about the origins of the Venetian language term. According to various theories it comes: [7]

Another possibility is from the Italian Egitto (Egypt, from the Latin Aegyptus), possibly in memory of the exile of the Israelites in Egypt. [8]

Jewish ghettos


Plan of Jewish ghetto, Frankfurt, 1628 Frankfurt-Judengasse-1628-MkII.png
Plan of Jewish ghetto, Frankfurt, 1628
Demolition of the Jewish ghetto, Frankfurt, 1868 Frankfurt Am Main-Fay-BADAFAMNDN-Heft 21-Nr 245-1904-Die Judengasse Suedseite.jpg
Demolition of the Jewish ghetto, Frankfurt, 1868

The character of ghettos has varied through times. The term was used for an area in Jewish quarter, which meant the area of a city traditionally inhabited by Jews in the diaspora. Jewish quarters, like the Jewish ghettos in Europe, were often the outgrowths of segregated ghettos instituted by the surrounding authorities. A Yiddish term for a Jewish quarter or neighborhood is Di yiddishe gas (Yiddish : די ייִדדישע גאַס), or "The Jewish street". Many European and Middle Eastern cities once had a historical Jewish quarter.

Jewish ghettos in Europe existed because Jews were viewed as outsiders. As a result, Jews were placed under strict regulations throughout many European cities. [9]

In some cases, the ghetto was a Jewish quarter with a relatively affluent population (for instance the Jewish ghetto in Venice). In other cases, ghettos were places of terrible poverty and during periods of population growth, ghettos (as that of Rome) had narrow streets and tall, crowded houses. Residents had their own justice system.

Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe

Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943 Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising BW.jpg
Liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, 1943

During World War II, ghettos were established by the Nazis to confine Jews and Gypsies into tightly packed areas of the cities of Eastern Europe. The Nazis most often referred to these areas in documents and signage at their entrances as "Jewish quarter". These Nazi ghettos sometimes coincided with traditional Jewish ghettos and Jewish quarters, but not always. On June 21, 1943, Heinrich Himmler issued a decree ordering the dissolution of all ghettos in the East and their transformation into Nazi concentration camps. [10]


A mellah (Arabic ملاح, probably from the word ملح, Arabic for "salt") is a walled Jewish quarter of a city in Morocco, an analogue of the European ghetto. Jewish populations were confined to mellahs in Morocco beginning from the 15th century and especially since the early 19th century. In cities, a mellah was surrounded by a wall with a fortified gateway. Usually, the Jewish quarter was situated near the royal palace or the residence of the governor in order to protect its inhabitants from recurring riots. In contrast, rural mellahs were separate villages inhabited solely by the Jews.

Shanghai ghetto

The Shanghai Ghetto was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless Refugees after having fled from German-occupied Europe before and during World War II. [11]

Roma ghettos

Roma settlement Lunik IX near Kosice, Slovakia Lunik IX.jpg
Roma settlement Luník IX near Košice, Slovakia

There are many Roma ghettos in the European Union. [12] [13] [14] The Czech government estimates that there are approximately 830 Roma ghettos in the Czech Republic. [15]

United States


Children in the Ghetto and the Ice-Cream Man -- postcard from 1909 in Maxwell Street, Chicago Children in the Ghetto and the Ice-Cream Man. Chicago Ill. (FRONT).jpeg
Children in the Ghetto and the Ice-Cream Man — postcard from 1909 in Maxwell Street, Chicago
A scene of Maxwell Street in Chicago circa 1908. The title reads "THE GHETTO OF CHICAGO". The image has been colorized and is taken from a souvenir guide to Chicago printed in 1908. Note the signage in Yiddish that reads 'Fish Market'. The Ghetto of Chicago.jpg
A scene of Maxwell Street in Chicago circa 1908. The title reads "THE GHETTO OF CHICAGO". The image has been colorized and is taken from a souvenir guide to Chicago printed in 1908. Note the signage in Yiddish that reads 'Fish Market'.

The development of ghettos in the United States is closely associated with different waves of immigration and internal urban migration. The Irish and German immigrants of the mid-19th century were the first ethnic groups to form ethnic enclaves in United States cities. This was followed by large numbers of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, including many Italians and Poles between 1880 and 1920. [16] Most of these remained in their established immigrant communities, but by the second or third generation, many families were able to relocate to better housing in the suburbs after World War II.

These ethnic ghetto areas included the Lower East Side in Manhattan, New York, which later became notable as predominantly Jewish, and East Harlem, which was once predominantly Italian and became home to a large Puerto Rican community in the 1950s. Little Italys across the country were predominantly Italian ghettos. Many Polish immigrants moved to sections like Pilsen of Chicago and Polish Hill of Pittsburgh. Brighton Beach in Brooklyn is the home of mostly Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.[ citation needed ]

During the Great Depression, many people would congregate in large open parking lots. They built shelters out of whatever materials they could find at the time. These congregations of shelters were also called "ghettos".[ citation needed ]

African-American or black ghettos

A commonly used definition of a ghetto is a community distinguished by a homogeneous race or ethnicity. Additionally, a key feature that developed throughout the post-industrial era and continues to symbolize the demographics of American ghettos is the prevalence of poverty. Poverty constitutes the separation of ghettos from other, suburbanized or private neighborhoods. The high percentage of poverty partly justifies the difficulty of emigration, which tends to reproduce constraining social opportunities and inequalities in society. [17]

Chicago ghetto on the South Side, May 1974 Chicago ghetto.jpg
Chicago ghetto on the South Side, May 1974

Urban areas in the U.S. can often be classified as "black" or "white", with the inhabitants primarily belonging to a homogenous racial grouping. [18] Forty years after the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, most of the United States remains a residentially segregated society in which blacks and whites inhabit different neighborhoods of significantly different quality. [18] [19]

Many of these neighborhoods are located in Northern and Western cities where African-Americans moved during the Great Migration (1914–1970), a period when over a million [20] African-Americans moved out of the rural southern United States to escape the widespread racism of the South, to seek out employment opportunities in urban environments, and to pursue what was widely perceived to be a better quality of life in the North and West, such as New York City, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, and Seattle. [20]

Two main factors ensured further separation between races and classes, and ultimately the development of contemporary ghettos: the relocation of industrial enterprises, and the movement of middle to upper class residents into suburban neighborhoods. Between 1967 and 1987, economic restructuring resulted in a dramatic decline of manufacturing jobs. The once thriving northern and western industrial cities directed a shift to service occupations and in combination with the movement of middle-class families and other businesses to the suburbs, left much economic devastation in the inner cities. Consequently, African-Americans were disproportionately affected and became either unemployed or underemployed with little wage and reduced benefits. Accordingly, a concentration of African-Americans was established in the inner city neighborhoods. [17]

It is also significant to compare the demographic patterns between blacks and European immigrants, according to the labor market. European immigrants and African-Americans were both subject to an ethnic division of labor, and consequently African-Americans have predominated in the least secure division of the labor market. David Ward refers to this stagnant position in African-American or Black ghettos as the 'elevator' model, which implies that each group of immigrants or migrants takes turns in the processes of social mobility and suburbanization; and several groups did not start on the ground floor. The inability of blacks to move from the ground floor, as Ward suggests, is dependent upon prejudice and segregationist patterns experienced in the South prior to World War I. After the exodus of African-Americans to the North during and after World War I, the range of occupations in the North was further altered by the settlement of European immigrants; thus, African-Americans were diminished to unskilled jobs. The slow rate of advancement in black communities outlines the rigidity of the labor market, competition and conflict, adding another dimension to the prevalence of poverty and social instability in African-American or Black ghettos. [21]

World War II's effect on the development of ghettos

In the years following World War II, many white Americans began to move away from inner cities to newer suburban communities, a process known as white flight. White flight occurred, in part, as a response to black people moving into white urban neighborhoods. [22] [23] Discriminatory practices, especially those intended to "preserve" emerging white suburbs, restricted the ability of blacks to move from inner cities to the suburbs, even when they were economically able to afford it. In contrast to this, the same period in history marked a massive suburban expansion available primarily to whites of both wealthy and working-class backgrounds, facilitated through highway construction and the availability of federally subsidized home mortgages (VA, FHA, Home Owners' Loan Corporation). These made it easier for families to buy new houses in the suburbs, but not to rent apartments in cities. [24]

The United States began restructuring its economy after World War II, fueled by new globalizing processes, and demonstrated through technological advances and improvements in efficiency. The structural shift of 1973, during the post-Fordist era, became a large component to the racial ghetto and its relationship with the labor market. Sharon Zukin declares the designated stratum of African-Americans in the labor force was placed even below the working class; low-skill urban jobs were now given to incoming immigrants from Mexico or the Caribbean. Additionally, Zukin notes, "Not only have social services been drastically reduced, punitive and other social controls over the poor have been increased," such as law enforcement and imprisonment. [25] [26] Described as the "urban crisis" during the 1970s and 1980s, the transition stressed regional divisions according to differences in income and racial lines — white "donuts" around black holes. [27] Hardly coincidental, the steady separation occurred during the period of civil rights laws, urban riots and Black Power. In addition, the International Encyclopedia of Social Sciences stresses the various challenges developed by this "urban crisis", including:

... poorly underserviced infrastructures, inadequate housing to accommodate a growing urban populace, group conflict and competition over limited jobs and space, the inability for many residents to compete for new technology-based jobs, and tensions between the public and private sectors left to the formation and growth of U.S. ghettos. [17] [28]

The cumulative economic and social forces in ghettos give way to social, political and economic isolation and inequality, while indirectly defining a separation between superior and inferior status of groups.

In response to the influx of black people from the South, banks, insurance companies, and businesses began denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, insurance, access to jobs, [29] access to health care, [30] or even supermarkets [31] to residents in certain, often racially determined, [32] areas. The most devastating form of redlining, and the most common use of the term, refers to mortgage discrimination. Data on house prices and attitudes toward integration suggest that in the mid-twentieth century, segregation was a product of collective actions taken by non-blacks to exclude blacks from outside neighborhoods. [33]

The "Racial" Provisions of the FHA Underwriting Manual of 1936 included the following guidelines which exacerbated the segregation issue:

Recommended restrictions should include provision for: prohibition of the occupancy of properties except by the race for which they are intended ... Schools should be appropriate to the needs of the new community and they should not be attended in large numbers by inharmonious racial groups. [22] [34]

This meant that ethnic minorities could secure mortgage loans only in certain areas, and it resulted in a large increase in the residential racial segregation and urban decay in the United States. [35] The creation of new highways in some cases divided and isolated black neighborhoods from goods and services, many times within industrial corridors. For example, Birmingham, Alabama's interstate highway system attempted to maintain the racial boundaries that had been established by the city's 1926 racial zoning law. The construction of interstate highways through black neighborhoods in the city led to significant population loss in those neighborhoods and is associated with an increase in neighborhood racial segregation. [36] Residential segregation was further perpetuated because whites were willing to pay more than blacks to live in predominantly white areas. [16] Some social scientists suggest that the historical processes of suburbanization and decentralization are instances of white privilege that have contributed to contemporary patterns of environmental racism. [37]

Following the emergence of anti-discrimination policies in housing and labor sparked by the civil rights movement, members of the black middle class moved out of the ghetto. The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. This was the first federal law that outlawed discrimination in the sale and rental of housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion and later sex, familial status, and disability. The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity was charged with administering and enforcing the law. Since housing discrimination became illegal, new housing opportunities were made available to the black community and many left the ghetto. Urban sociologists frequently title this historical event as "black middle class exodus", or black flight. Elijah Anderson describes a process by which members of the black middle class begin to distance themselves socially and culturally from ghetto residents during the later half of the twentieth century, "eventually expressing this distance by literally moving away." [38] This is followed by the exodus of black working-class families. [39] :49 As a result, the ghetto becomes primarily occupied by what sociologists and journalists of the 1980s and 1990s frequently title the "underclass." William Julius Wilson suggests this exodus worsens the isolation of the black underclass — not only are they socially and physically distanced from whites, they are also isolated from the black middle class. [39] :7–8

Race-based vs. class-based theories on the development of U.S. ghettos

Two dominant theories arise pertaining to the production and development of U.S. ghettos. First are the race-based theorists who argue the importance of race in ghettos. Their analysis consists of the dominant racial group in the U.S. (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) and their use of certain racist tactics in order to maintain their hegemony over blacks and lengthen their spatial separation. Race-based theorists offset other arguments that focus on the influence of the economy on segregation. More contemporary research of race-based theorists is to frame a range of methods conducted by white Americans to "preserve race-based residential inequities" as a function of the dominantly white, state-run government. Involving uneven development, mortgage and business discrimination and disinvestment — U.S. ghettos then, as suggested by race-based theorists, are conserved by distinctly racial reasoning. The more dominant view, on the other hand, is represented by class-based theorists. Such theories confirm class to be more important than race in the structuring of U.S. ghettos. Although racial concentration is a key signifier for ghettos, class-based theorists emphasize the role and impact of broader societal structures in the creation of African-American or Black ghettos. Dynamics of low-wage service and unemployment triggered from deindustrialization, and the intergenerational diffusion of status within families and neighborhoods, for instance, prove the rise in socioeconomic polarization between classes to be the creator of American ghetto; not racism. [40] Furthermore, the culture of poverty theory, first developed by Oscar Lewis, states that a prolonged history of poverty can itself become a cultural obstacle to socioeconomic success, and in turn can continue a pattern of socioeconomic polarization. Ghettos, in short, instill a cultural adaptation to social and class-based inequalities, reducing the ability of future generations to mobilize or migrate. [27]

An alternative theory put forward by Thomas Sowell in Black Rednecks and White Liberals asserts that modern urban black ghetto culture is rooted in the white Cracker culture of the North Britons and Scots-Irish who migrated from the generally lawless border regions of Britain to the American South, where they formed a redneck culture common to both blacks and whites in the antebellum South. Characteristics of this culture included lively music and dance, violence, unbridled emotions, flamboyant imagery, illegitimacy, religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, and a lack of emphasis on education and intellectual interests. [41] Because redneck culture proved counterproductive, "that culture long ago died out...among both white and black Southerners, while still surviving today in the poorest and worst of the urban black ghettos", [42] which Sowell described as being characterized by "brawling, braggadocio, self-indulgence, [and] disregard of the future", [42] and where "belligerence is considered being manly and crudity is considered cool, while being civilized is regarded as 'acting white'." [41] Sowell blames liberal Americans who since the 1960s have embraced black ghetto culture as the only "'authentic' black culture and even glamorize it" while they "denounce any criticism of the ghetto lifestyle or any attempt to change it". [41] Sowell asserts that white liberal Americans have perpetuated this "counterproductive and self-destructive lifestyle" among black Americans living in urban ghettos through "the welfare state, and look-the-other-way policing, and smiling at 'gangsta rap'." [42]

Characterizations of "ghetto" in the United States

Contemporary African-American or Black ghettos are characterized by an overrepresentation of a particular ethnicity or race, vulnerability to crime, social problems, governmental reliance and political disempowerment. Sharon Zukin explains that through these reasons, society rationalizes the term "bad neighborhoods". Zukin stresses that these circumstances are largely related to "racial concentration, residential abandonment, and deconstitution and reconstitution of communal institutions." [26] [43] Many scholars diagnose this poorly facilitated and fragmented view of the United States as the "age of extremes". This term argues that inequalities of wealth and power reinforce spatial separation; for example, the growth of gated communities can be interconnected with the continued "ghettoization" of the poor. [27]

Another characteristic to African-American or Black ghettos and spatial separation is the dependence on the state, and lack of communal autonomy; Sharon Zukin refers to Brownsville, Brooklyn, as an example. This relationship between racial ghettos and the state is demonstrated through various push and pull features, implemented through government subsidized investments, which certainly assisted the movement of white Americans into the suburbs after World War II. Since the 1960s, after the deconstitution of the inner cities, African-American or Black ghettos have attempted to reorganize or reconstitute; in effect, they are increasingly regarded as public- and state-dependent communities. Brownsville, for instance, initiated the constitution of community-established public housing, anti-poverty organizations, and social service facilities — all, in their own way, depend on state resources. However, certain dependence contradicts society's desires to be autonomous actors in the market. Moreover, Zukin implies, "the less 'autonomous' the community — in its dependence on public schools, public housing and various subsidy programs — the greater the inequity between their organizations and the state, and the less willing residents are to organize." [26] [44] This should not, on the other hand, undermine local development corporations or social service agencies helping these neighborhoods. The lack of autonomy and growing dependence on the state, especially in a neoliberal economy, remains a key indicator to the production as well as the prevalence of African-American or Black ghettos, particularly due to the lack of opportunities to compete in the global market. [26]

Despite mainstream America's use of the term "ghetto" to signify a poor, culturally or racially homogenous urban area, those living in the area often used it to signify something positive. The black ghettos did not always contain dilapidated houses and deteriorating projects, nor were all of its residents poverty-stricken. For many African-Americans, the ghetto was "home": a place representing authentic blackness and a feeling, passion, or emotion derived from rising above the struggle and suffering of being black in America. [45] Langston Hughes relays in the "Negro Ghetto" (1931) and "The Heart of Harlem" (1945): "The buildings in Harlem are brick and stone/And the streets are long and wide,/But Harlem's much more than these alone,/Harlem is what's inside." Playwright August Wilson used the term "ghetto" in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (1984) and Fences (1987), both of which draw upon the author's experience growing up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, a black ghetto. [16]

The concept of 'the ghetto' and 'underclass' has faced criticism both theoretically and empirically. Research has shown significant differences in resources for neighborhoods with similar populations both across cities and over time. [46] [47] This includes differences in the resources of neighborhoods with predominantly low income or racial minority populations. The cause of these differences in resources across similar neighborhoods has more to do with dynamics outside of the neighborhood. [48] To a large extent the problem with the 'ghetto' and 'underclass' concepts stem from the reliance on case studies (in particular case studies from Chicago), which limit social scientist understandings of socially disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Modern usage and reinterpretations of "ghetto"

Recently the word "ghetto" has been used in slang as an adjective rather than a noun. It is used to indicate an object's relation to the inner city and also more broadly to denote something that is shabby or of low quality. While "ghetto" as an adjective can be used derogatorily, the African-American or Black community, particularly the hip hop scene, has taken the word for themselves and begun using it in a more positive sense that transcends its derogatory origins. [49] [ citation needed ]

In 1973, Geographical Review claimed "The degree of residential segregation of the black community is greater than for any other group in urban America, yet the blacks have not had the political power necessary to exercise any significant degree of control over the improvement of the basic services necessary for their health, education, and welfare." [50] [51] Scholars have been interested in the study of African-American or Black ghettos precisely for the concentration of disadvantaged residents and their vulnerability to social problems. American ghettos also bring attention to geographical and political barriers, and as Doreen Massey highlights, that racial segregation in African-American or Black ghettos challenge America's democratic foundations. [27] However, it is still advocated that "One solution to these problems depends on our ability to use the political process in eliminating the inequities... geographical knowledge and theory to public-policy decisions about poor people and poor regions is a professional obligation." [50] [51]

Gay ghetto

A gay village (also known as a gay neighbourhood or 'gayborhood', gay enclave, gay village, gaytto, "Boystown") is a geographical area with generally recognized boundaries, inhabited or frequented by a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Unlike other ghettos, gay villages can be created by the LGBT community as an act of self-protection or even gentrification. Gay villages often contain a number of gay-oriented establishments, such as gay bars and pubs, nightclubs, bathhouses, restaurants, boutiques and bookstores. [2]

United Kingdom

Northern Ireland

Belfast peaceline Bombay Street.jpg
A "peace line" in Belfast, seen from the Irish nationalist/republican side. The small back row of houses are protected by cages as missiles are sometimes thrown from the other side.
Sandy Row mural, Belfast.jpg
Mural at the edge of a loyalist ghetto in Belfast

In Northern Ireland, towns and cities have long been segregated along ethnic, religious and political lines. Northern Ireland's two main communities are its Irish nationalist-republican community (who mainly self-identify as Irish or Catholic) and its unionist-loyalist community (who mainly self-identify as British or Protestant). Ghettos emerged in Belfast during the riots that accompanied the Irish War of Independence. For safety, people fled to areas where their community was the majority.

Many more ghettos emerged after the 1969 riots and beginning of the "Troubles". In August 1969 the British Army was deployed to restore order and separate the two sides. The government built barriers called "peace lines". Many of the ghettos came under the control of paramilitaries such as the (republican) Provisional Irish Republican Army and the (loyalist) Ulster Defence Association. One of the most notable ghettos was Free Derry. [52]

Great Britain

The existence of ethnic enclaves in the United Kingdom is controversial. Southall Broadway, a predominantly Asian area in London, where less than 12 percent of the population is white, has been cited as an example of a 'ghetto', but in reality the area is home to a number of different ethnic groups and religious groups. [53] [ verification needed ] [54] Analysis of data from Census 2001 revealed that only two wards in England and Wales, both in Birmingham, had one dominant non-white ethnic group comprising more than two-thirds of the local population, but there were 20 wards where whites were a minority making up less than a third of the local population. [55] [56] [ need quotation to verify ] By 2001, two London boroughs Newham and Brent  — had "minority majority" populations, and most parts of the city tend to have a diverse population.


The Danish government sometimes used the word "ghetto" to describe particularly vulnerable public housing areas in the country. [57] [58] The designation is applied to areas based on the residents' income levels, employment status, education levels, criminal convictions and 'non-Western' ethnic background. [59] [60] [61] In 2017, the population of Denmark was 5.7 million, of which 8.7% were non-Western immigrants or their descendants. The population proportion of 'ghetto residents' with non-Western background was 66.5%. [62] Since 2010, the Danish Ministry of Transport, Building and Housing publishes the ghettolisten (The list of ghettos) which in 2018 consists of 25 areas. [58] [59] In his New Year Speech for 2018, the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen announced his government's intention to "end the existence of parallel societies and ghettos by 2030". [61] [63] The government has since proposed measures to solve the issue of integration which include policies like 30 hours of obligatory daycare per week for 'ghetto children' starting age 1, lowering social welfare for ghetto residents, incentives for reducing unemployment, demolition and rebuilding of certain tenements, doubling punishment for certain crimes like theft and vandalism in the ghettos, rights for landlords to refuse housing to convicts, etc. [63] [64] While some proposals like restricting 'ghetto children' to their homes after 8 p.m. have been rejected for being too radical, most of the 22 proposals have been agreed upon by a parliamentary majority. [58] [60] The policies have been criticized for undercutting 'equality before law' and for portraying immigrants, especially Muslim immigrants, in a bad light. [59] [65]

In June 2019 a new social democratic government was formed in Denmark, with Kaare Dybvad becoming housing minister. He stated that the new government would stop using the word "ghetto" for vulnerable housing areas, as it is both imprecise and derogatory. [66]


In France, a banlieue (French:  [bɑ̃ljø] ) is a suburb of a large city. Banlieues are divided into autonomous administrative entities and do not constitute part of the city proper. For instance, 80% of the inhabitants of the Paris area live outside the city of Paris. [67] Like the city centre, suburbs may be rich, middle-class or poor Versailles, Le Vésinet, Maisons-Laffitte and Neuilly-sur-Seine are affluent banlieues of Paris, while Clichy-sous-Bois, Bondy and Corbeil-Essonnes are less so. However, since the 1970s, banlieues increasingly means, in French of France, low-income housing projects (HLMs) in which mainly foreign immigrants and French of foreign descent reside, often in perceived poverty traps. [68]

In 1969, Elvis Presley released a song written by Mac Davis about birth and life in slum areas, titled "In the Ghetto". A number of other songs have been written about the ghetto, including Akon's "Ghetto". For other music about the ghetto, see Ghetto § Music.

See also

Related Research Articles

Racial segregation Systemic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life

Racial segregation is the systemic separation of people into racial or other ethnic groups in daily life. Segregation can involve the spatial separation of the races, and mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races. Specifically, it may be applied to activities such as eating in restaurants, drinking from water fountains, using public toilets, attending schools, going to movies, riding buses, renting or purchasing homes or renting hotel rooms. In addition, segregation often allows close contact between members of different racial or ethnic groups in hierarchical situations, such as allowing a person of one race to work as a servant for a member of another race.

William Julius Wilson is an American sociologist. He is a professor at Harvard University and author of numerous works on urban sociology, race and class issues. Laureate of the National Medal of Science, he served as the 80th President of the American Sociological Association, was a member of numerous national boards and commissions. He identified the importance of neighborhood effects and demonstrated how limited employment opportunities and weakened institutional resources exacerbated poverty within American inner-city neighborhoods.

White flight or white exodus is the sudden or gradual large-scale migration of white people from areas becoming more racially or ethnoculturally diverse. Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, the terms became popular in the United States. They referred to the large-scale migration of people of various European ancestries from racially mixed urban regions to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions. The term has more recently been applied to other migrations by whites, from older, inner suburbs to rural areas, as well as from the U.S. Northeast and Midwest to the milder climate in the Southeast and Southwest. The term 'white flight' has also been used for large-scale post-colonial emigration of whites from Africa, or parts of that continent, driven by levels of violent crime and anti-colonial state policies.

Geographical segregation exists whenever the proportions of population rates of two or more populations are not homogenous throughout a defined space. Populations can be considered any plant or animal species, human genders, followers of a certain religion, people of different nationalities, ethnic groups, etc.


Blockbusting is a business process of U.S. real estate agents and building developers to convince white property owners to sell their house at low prices, which they do by promoting fear in those house owners that racial minorities will soon be moving into the neighborhood. The agents then sell those same houses at much higher prices to black families desperate to escape the overcrowded ghettos. Blockbusting became possible after the legislative and judicial dismantling of legally protected racially segregated real estate practices after World War II. By the 1980s it largely disappeared as a business practice, after changes in law and the real estate market.

Racial steering refers to the practice in which real estate brokers guide prospective home buyers towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on their race. The term is used in the context of de facto residential segregation in the United States, and is often divided into two broad classes of conduct:

  1. Advising customers to purchase homes in particular neighborhoods on the basis of race
  2. Failing, on the basis of race, to show, or to inform buyers of homes that meet their specifications.

Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. Concealed in the fabric of society, covert racism discriminates against individuals through often evasive or seemingly passive methods. Covert, racially biased decisions are often hidden or rationalized with an explanation that society is more willing to accept. These racial biases cause a variety of problems that work to empower the suppressors while diminishing the rights and powers of the oppressed. Covert racism often works subliminally, and often much of the discrimination is being done subconsciously.

History of African Americans in Chicago

The history of African Americans in Chicago dates back to Jean Baptiste Point du Sable’s trading activities in the 1780s. Du Sable is the city's founder. Fugitive slaves and freedmen established the city's first black community in the 1840s. By the late 19th century, the first black person had been elected to office.

Racial segregation in the United States Historical separation of African Americans from American white society

Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, refers to the segregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation in the United States along racial lines. The term mainly refers to the legally or socially enforced separation of African Americans from whites, but it is also used with regards to the separation of other ethnic minorities from majority mainstream communities. While mainly referring to the physical separation and provision of separate facilities, it can also refer to other manifestations such as the separation of roles within an institution. Notably, in the United States Armed Forces up until the 1950s, black units were typically separated from white units but were nevertheless still led by white officers.

Ethnic succession theory is a theory in sociology stating that ethnic and racial groups entering a new area may settle in older neighborhoods or urban areas until achieving economic parity with certain economic classes. The concept of succession is well established in "both ecological and economic models of urban residential change." As the newer group becomes economically successful, it moves to a better residential area. With continued immigration, a new ethnic group will settle in the older neighborhood in a similar starting situation. This pattern will continue, creating a succession of groups moving through the neighborhood over time. Ethnic succession has taken place in most major United States cities, but is most well known in New York City, where this process has been observed since the 19th century.

African-American neighborhood

African-American neighborhoods or black neighborhoods are types of ethnic enclaves found in many cities in the United States. Generally, an African American neighborhood is one where the majority of the people who live there are African American. Some of the earliest African-American neighborhoods were in New York City along with early communities located in Virginia. In 1830, there were 14,000 "free Negroes" living in New York City.

Residential segregation in the United States

Residential segregation in the United States is the physical separation of two or more groups into different neighborhoods—a form of segregation that "sorts population groups into various neighborhood contexts and shapes the living environment at the neighborhood level". While it has traditionally been associated with racial segregation, it generally refers to any kind of sorting based on some criteria populations.

Housing segregation in the United States Denying races acsess to housing

Housing segregation in the United States is the practice of denying African American or other minority groups equal access to housing through the process of misinformation, denial of realty and financing services, and racial steering. Housing policy in the United States has influenced housing segregation trends throughout history. Key legislation include the National Housing Act of 1934, the GI Bill, and the Fair Housing Act. Factors such as socioeconomic status, spatial assimilation, and immigration contribute to perpetuating housing segregation. The effects of housing segregation include relocation, unequal living standards, and poverty. However, there have been initiatives to combat housing segregation, such as the Section 8 housing program.

Housing discrimination in the United States began after the abolition of slavery, typically as part of the "Jim Crow laws" that enforced racial segregation. The federal government began to take action against these laws in 1917, when the Supreme Court ruled in Buchanan v. Warley that ordinances prohibiting blacks from occupying or owning buildings in majority-white neighborhoods, and vice versa, were unconstitutional.

Racial inequality in the United States identifies the social advantages and disparities that affect different races within the United States. These can also be seen as a result of historic oppression, inequality of inheritance, or overall prejudice, especially against minority groups.

Racial segregation in Atlanta

Racial segregation in Atlanta has known main phases after the freeing of the slaves in 1865: a period of relative integration of businesses and residences; Jim Crow laws and official residential and de facto business segregation after the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906; blockbusting and black residential expansion starting in the 1950s; and gradual integration from the late 1960s onwards. A recent study conducted by Nate Silver of, found that Atlanta was the second most segregated city in the U.S. and the most segregated in the South.

History of African Americans in Detroit History of African Americans in Detroit

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, blacks or African Americans living in Detroit accounted for 79.1% of the total population, or approximately 532,425 people as of 2017 estimates. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, of all U.S. cities with 100,000 or more people, Detroit had the second-highest percentage of black people.

American ghettos Residential Segregation in America, Housing Discrimination, United States History

Ghettos in the United States are typically urban neighborhoods perceived as being high in crime and poverty. The origins of these areas are specific to the United States and its laws, which created ghettos as the sometimes-intended, sometimes-unintended consequences of both governmental legislations and private efforts to segregate America for political, economic, social, and ideological reasons: de jure and de facto segregation. De facto segregation continues today in areas such as residential segregation and school segregation because of both contemporary behavior and the historical legacy of de jure segregation.

History of the White Americans in Baltimore

The history of the White Americans in Baltimore dates back to the 17th century when the first white European colonists came to what is now Maryland and established the Province of Maryland on what was then Native American land. White Americans in Baltimore are Baltimoreans "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa." Majority white for most of its history, Baltimore no longer had a white majority by the 1970s. As of the 2010 Census, white Americans are a minority population of Baltimore at 29.6% of the population. White Americans have played a substantial impact on the culture, dialect, ethnic heritage, history, politics, and music of the city. Since the earliest English settlers arrived on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore's white population has been sustained by substantial immigration from all over Europe, particularly Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Southern Europe, as well as a large out-migration of White Southerners from Appalachia. Numerous white immigrants from Europe and the European diaspora have immigrated to Baltimore from the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, Spain, France, Canada, and other countries, particularly during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Smaller numbers of white people have immigrated from Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, North Africa, and other non-European regions. Baltimore also has a prominent population of white Jews of European descent, mostly with roots in Central and Eastern Europe. There is a smaller population of white Middle Easterners and white North Africans, most of whom are Arab, Persian, Israeli, or Turkish. The distribution of White Americans in Central and Southeast Baltimore is sometimes called "The White L", while the distribution of African Americans in East and West Baltimore is called "The Black Butterfly."

Tenement housing in Chicago

Tenement housing was established in Chicago throughout the late 19th and into the early 20th centuries. A majority of tenement complexes in Chicago were constructed in the interest of using land space and boosting the economy. These tenements were built quite tall, often exceeding 3 stories, to accommodate as many low-income tenants as possible. This was possible as Chicago had not set a height limit to residential buildings, allowing landlords to create towering, cramped buildings with many rooms to create as much revenue as possible. By the beginning of the 20th century, tenement housing in Chicago was generally divided based on ethnicity, including sections such as Polish, African American, Italian, and Greek Tenement neighborhoods.


  1. "Definition of GHETTO". Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  2. 1 2 Kelefa, Sanneh (July 18, 2016). "There Goes the Neighborhood". The New Yorker . Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  3. Holocaust Encyclopedia (2014). "Ghettos. Key Facts". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on August 15, 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2015 via Internet Archive.
  4. Yad Vashem, "The Ghettos". The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. Overview. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  5. "Segregated From Its History, How 'Ghetto' Lost Its Meaning". Retrieved 2019-12-12.
  6. See Calimani, Riccardo (1987) The Ghetto of Venice. New York: M. Evans & Co. ISBN   0871314843 pp. 129–132
  7. Domonoske, Camila (April 27, 2014). "Segregated From Its History, How 'Ghetto' Lost Its Meaning". NPR. Retrieved 20 November 2017. The word "ghetto" is an etymological mystery. Is it from the Hebrew get, or bill of divorce? From the Venetian ghèto, or foundry? From the Yiddish gehektes, "enclosed"? From Latin Giudaicetum, for "Jewish"? From the Italian borghetto, "little town"? From the Old French guect, "guard"?...In his etymology column for the Oxford University Press, Anatoly Liberman took a look at each of these possibilities. He considered ever more improbable origins — Latin for "ribbon"? German for "street"? Latin for "to throw"? — before declaring the word a stubborn mystery.
  9. GHETTO Kim Pearson Archived February 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  10. Ghetto in Flames Yitzhak Arad, pp. 436–437
  11. Shanghai Jewish History Archived 2006-08-13 at the Wayback Machine (Shanghai Jewish Center)
  12. "The New Roma Ghettos". Vice. 25 December 2013.
  13. "No voice, no future? Roma ignored as Europe goes to polls". The Guardian. 23 May 2019.
  14. "Roma ghettos in the heart of the EU". El País . 6 September 2019.
  15. "Czech Govt report on the state of the Romani minority estimates 830 ghettos with 127 000 inhabitants in the regions". 15 October 2019.
  16. 1 2 3 Ghettos: The Changing Consequences of Ethnic Isolation
  17. 1 2 3 Darity, William A., Jr., ed. "Ghetto." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 3.2 (2008): 311–14. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. October 25, 2012.
  18. 1 2 Sethi, Rajiv; Somanathan, Rohini (2004). "Inequality and Segregation". Journal of Political Economy . 112 (6): 1296–1321. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1086/424742.
  19. Massey, Douglas S. (2004). "Segregation and Stratification: A Biosocial Perspective". Du Bois Review . 1 (1): 7–25. doi:10.1017/S1742058X04040032.
  20. 1 2 "Retired Site — PBS Programs — PBS". Retired Site — PBS Programs — PBS. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  21. Ward, David (1982). "The Ethnic Ghetto in the United States: Past and Present". Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. ns. 7 (3): 257–75. doi:10.2307/621990. JSTOR   621990.
  22. 1 2 Keating, William Dennis (1994). The Suburban Racial Dilemma: Housing and Neighborhoods. Temple University Press. ISBN   978-1-56639-147-4.
  23. Frey, William H. (1979). "Central City White Flight: Racial and Nonracial Causes". American Sociological Review . 44 (3): 425–448. doi:10.2307/2094885. JSTOR   2094885.
  24. "Racial" Provisions of FHA Underwriting Manual Archived December 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  25. Zukin 514
  26. 1 2 3 4 Zukin, Sharon (2002). "How 'Bad' Is It?: Institutions and Intentions in the Study of the American Ghetto". International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 22 (3): 511–20. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.00155.
  27. 1 2 3 4 Fischer, Claude S.; Stockmayer, Gretchen; Stiles, Jon; Hout, Michael (2004). "Distinguishing the Geographical Levels and Social Dimensions of U.S. Metropolitan Segregation, 1960–2000". Demography. 41 (7): 37–59. doi:10.1353/dem.2004.0002.
  28. Darity 313
  29. Racial Discrimination and Redlining in Cities Archived November 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  30. See: Race and health
  31. Eisenhauer, Elizabeth (2001). "In poor health: Supermarket redlining and urban nutrition". GeoJournal . 53 (2): 125–133. doi:10.1023/A:1015772503007.
  32. Thabit, Walter, How East New York Became a Ghetto. ISBN   0-8147-8267-1. Page 42.
  33. Cutler, David M.; Glaeser, Edward L.; Vigdor, Jacob L. (1999). "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto". Journal of Political Economy . 107 (3): 455–506. CiteSeerX . doi:10.1086/250069.
  34. Federal Housing Administration, Underwriting Manual: Underwriting and Valuation Procedure Under Title II of the National Housing Act with Revisions to February, 1938 (Washington, D.C.), Part II, Section 9, Rating of Location.
  35. Jackson, Kenneth T. (1985), Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States , New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN   0-19-504983-7
  36. Connerly, Charles E. (2002). "From Racial Zoning to Community Empowerment: The Interstate Highway System and the African American Community in Birmingham, Alabama". Journal of Planning Education and Research. 22 (2): 99–114. doi:10.1177/0739456X02238441.
  37. Pulido, Laura (2000). "Rethinking Environmental Racism: White Privilege and Urban Development in Southern California". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 90 (1): 12–40. doi:10.1111/0004-5608.00182. hdl: 10214/1833 .
  38. Anderson, Elijah (1990). Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community. The University of Chicago Press. pp.  2. ISBN   978-0-226-01816-4.
  39. 1 2 Wilson, William Julius (1987). The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. The University of Chicago Press. ISBN   978-0-226-90131-2.
  40. Shelton, Jason E. "Ghetto." Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. 2008. SAGE Knowledge. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.
  41. 1 2 3 Sowell, Thomas (May 16, 2015). "Black Rednecks and White Liberals". Capitalism Magazine.
  42. 1 2 3 Nordlinger, Jay (September 9, 2005). ""Black Rednecks and White Liberals", by Thomas Sowell". National Review.
  43. Zukin 516
  44. Zukin 517
  45. Smitherman, Geneva (2000). Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN   978-0-395-96919-9.
  46. "Symposium on the Ghetto". City & Community. 7 (4): 305–407. 2008. doi:10.1111/cico.2008.7.issue-4.
  47. Small, Mario L.; McDermott, Monica (2006). "The Presence of Organizational Resources in Poor Urban Neighborhoods: An Analysis of Average and Contextual Effects". Social Forces. 84 (3): 1697–1724. doi:10.1353/sof.2006.0067.
  48. Logan, John; Molotch, Harvey (1987). Urban Fortunes : The Political Economy of Place. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN   978-0-520-06341-9.
  49. Stuart E, Heflin Sr. The Goshen Dilemma. p. 26.
  50. 1 2 Geographical Review 107
  51. 1 2 "Geographical Record". Geographical Review. 63 (1): 106–17. 1973. JSTOR   213241.
  52. "History Battle of the Bogside". The Museum of Free Derry. 2015-07-31. Archived from the original on 2015-07-31. Retrieved 2017-04-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  53. Browne, Anthony (May 5, 2004). "We cant run away from it white flight is here too". The Times. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  54. Kerr, J., Gibson, A. and Seaborne, M. (2003) London from Punk to Blair. Reaktion Books. see entries
  55. Archived Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  56. Shepherd, Anne. "British Society for Population Studies — British Society for Population Studies — Research centres, societies and groups — Department of Social Policy — Home". Retrieved 5 July 2017.
  57. "UDSATTE BOLIGOMRÅDER — DE NÆSTE SKRIDT" (PDF). The Immigration and Integration Affairs Committee of the Danish Parliament. May 2013. (in Danish).
  58. 1 2 3 Nielson, Emil Gjerding. "In Danish 'ghettos', immigrants feel stigmatized and shut out". U.S. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  59. 1 2 3 "In Denmark's Plan To Rid Country Of 'Ghettos,' Some Immigrants Hear 'Go Home'". Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  60. 1 2 "In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant 'Ghettos'" . Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  61. 1 2 "Danes to double penalty for ghetto crime". BBC News. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  62. Editorial, Reuters. "Denmark to school 'ghetto' kids in democracy and Christmas". U.S. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  63. 1 2 "Here's what we know about Denmark's 'ghetto plan'". 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  64. "What to Know About Denmark's Plan to End Immigrant "Ghettos"". Time. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  65. ""No ghettos in 2030": Denmark's controversial plan to get rid of immigrant neighborhoods". Vox. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  66. Politiken. Fem debattører: Her er hadeordene, der skal dø sammen med 'ghetto'. (in Danish)
  67. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-08-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  68. Lepoutre, David. Coeur de banlieue: codes, rites, et langages. Odile Jacob, 1997.

Commons-logo.svg Media related to Ghetto at Wikimedia Commons