Residential segregation in Northern Ireland in 2001: assessing the value of exploring spatial variations
Segregation measures have been applied in the study of many societies, and traditionally such measures have been used to assess the degree of division between social and cultural groups across urban areas, wider regions, or perhaps national areas. The degree of segregation can vary substantially from place to place even within very small areas. In this paper the substantive concern is with religious/political segregation in Northern Ireland—particularly the proportion of Protestants (often taken as an indicator of those who wish to retain the union with Britain) to Catholics (often taken as an indicator of those who favour union with the Republic of Ireland). Traditionally, segregation is measured globally—that is, across all units in a given area. A recent trend in spatial data analysis generally, and in segregation analysis specifically, is to assess local features of spatial datasets. The rationale behind such approaches is that global methods may obscure important spatial variations in the property of interest, and thus prevent full use of the data. In this paper the utility of local measures of residential segregation is assessed with reference to the religious/political composition of Northern Ireland. The paper demonstrates marked spatial variations in the degree and nature of residential segregation across Northern Ireland. It is argued that local measures provide highly useful information in addition to that provided in maps of the raw variables and in standard global segregation measures. Keywords: indices of segregation, population structures, local methods, census data
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