The complex geographies of ethnic residential segregation: Using spatial and local measures to explore scale-dependency and spatial relationships

Gemma Catney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
677 Downloads (Pure)


Ethnic residential geographies have become increasingly spatially complex. While urban diversity is by far the dominant pattern in the UK, over the last two decades suburban and rural areas have experienced a modest but steady growth of ethnic minority populations. Yet despite these emerging patterns, a bias persists whereby most studies of ethnic residential segregation are concerned solely with metropolitan places. While spatial and local measures enable a more sophisticated analysis of the intricate geographical and scalar variations in residential segregation than traditional “global” approaches, there have been surprisingly few analyses of the local dimensions of ethnic residential patterning, and these have tended to be metro-focused. This study analyses small area ethnic segregation in England and Wales using a spatially-weighted approach for 2011 Census data across all (small) areas, rather than just cities. To briefly summarise, the results demonstrate (1) the non-uniform scale effects of segregation between each ethnic group; (2) spatial “thresholds” at which segregation can be found, which challenge established wisdom about the relative levels of segregation between ethnic groups; (3) the high spatial variability in segregation levels; and (4) how segregation dimensions and group proportions are not strongly related in all neighbourhoods, providing justification for their use in conjunction. Exploring segregation across a national context, the research develops understandings of ethnic group interactions between spaces and across scales, and advances hitherto underdeveloped debates about the complexity of the conceptual and empirical distinctions that can be made between the dimensions of segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-152
Number of pages16
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
Early online date29 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2018


  • diversity
  • ethnicity
  • neighbourhood
  • residential segregation
  • scale
  • urban–rural

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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