Locked in Segregation
69 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2004
In earlier work, I have developed the lock-in model of inequality, which compares persistent racial inequality to persistent market monopoly power. In this article, I explore the implications of applying the lock-in model to the problem of residential segregation. Here, I put forward two central arguments. First, I argue that residential segregation constitutes an example of a locked-in racial monopoly. During the days of Jim Crow, white racial cartels (e.g., homeowners' associations and real estate boards) engaged in anti-competitive conduct to exclude blacks and monopolize access to good neighborhoods. That early neighborhood advantage has now become locked-in via certain self-reinforcing neighborhood effects, namely through public school finance and neighborhood job referral networks. Because the (white) rich get richer in neighborhoods with good schools and good job networks, nonwhites are relatively less able to move into more expensive white neighborhoods. Second, I argue that anti-discrimination law should shift its focus from individual intent to a lock-in framework. In contrast to the individual intent model, the lock-in model suggests that the definition of discrimination be expanded, to include persistent racial inequality that can be traced historically to earlier anti-competitive conduct. This definition, and the lock-in model itself, bring to light the historical, institutional and collective dimensions of racial inequality that the individual intent model suppresses.
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