Locked in Segregation
70 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 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, non-whites 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.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation