Residential segregation retheorized: a view from southern California
How is ethnic residential segregation to be constituted as a valid problem within geography? Existing interpretations are so greatly influenced by the Chicago School, which was successful at defining the objects of study and analysis, that it seems difficult to engage in a genuinely different form of inquiry. This essay is an attempt to sever links with that tradition, at least with regard to the metropolitan scale. A realignment of empirical work, a well-defined method of abstraction and a theoretically sound objective are required for any workable research programme. We suggest a recovery of ‘work’ and ‘labour’ as central themes in social geography, and a parallel re-emphasis on the production, circulation and consumption of commodities in urban and economic geography. As a result, there must be a shift away from the rigorous plotting of nighttime location towards an understanding of the geographical separation of workplace and residence as a key feature in the structuring of ethnicity and the formation of class.