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Social Polarization: A Comparison of Evidence from Britain and the United States


  • S Pinch

    (Department of Geography, University of Southampton, Southampton SO9 5NH, England)


In this paper, evidence from Britain and the United States concerning social polarization is compared. Two major approaches to the subject are identified: the first, most extensively developed in the United States, is focused upon occupational shifts and their impact upon the earnings paid to individuals; and the second, which has emerged in Britain, is focused upon households and all the types of work undertaken within them. These approaches and their differing implications for polarization—the first approach suggesting a ‘disappearing middle’ and the second approach a growing ‘underclass’—are related to differing social and economic circumstances in Britain and the United States. Both approaches are applied to a household survey of the economically active in Southampton. The survey indicates that social polarization is a result both of sectoral shifts in the local economy and of changing household structures. A number of contrasts between labour-market influences upon polarization in the United States and Britain are highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • S Pinch, 1993. "Social Polarization: A Comparison of Evidence from Britain and the United States," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 25(6), pages 779-795, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:envira:v:25:y:1993:i:6:p:779-795

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    Cited by:

    1. Hadewijch van Delft & Cees Gorter & Peter Nijkamp, 2000. "In Search of Ethnic Entrepreneurship Opportunities in the City: A Comparative Policy Study," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 18(4), pages 429-451, August.
    2. Peter Nijkamp & Mediha Sahin & Tüzin Baycan-Levent, 2010. "Migrant Entrepreneurship And New Urban Economic Opportunities: Identification Of Critical Success Factors By Means Of Qualitative Pattern Recognition Analysis," Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG, vol. 101(4), pages 371-391, September.
    3. Enno Masurel & Peter Nijkamp, 2002. "Motivations and Performance Conditions for Ethnic Entrepreneurship," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 238-260.
    4. Peter Nijkamp & Mediha Sahin & Tüzin Baycan-Levent, 2009. "Migrant Entrepreneurship and New Urban Economic Opportunities," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-025/3, Tinbergen Institute.

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