Patrick Zimmer

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Ethnic Clustering Assignment

1) Is spacial ethnic clustering in a large city inevitable in thedeveloped world

2)To what extent would the Bengali community in Camden,
London be said to be living in a Ghetto in the US sense.

1) There are numerous reasons for the frequent cases of ethnic
spacial clustering found in large developed cities. One of the more
practical reasons is the convenience of common facilities and
shops. By clustering in certain areas the ethnic community can
support a much wider range of shops and facilities suited to their
culture. In terms of shopping this benefits the retailer financially
and the customers with increased diversity. Customers can also
reduce the travelling distance by clustering around shops and
facilities. Without clustering religious facilities, for example, would
either have to be more numerous to service the spread of people,
or people would have to travel further on a regular basis both of
which are, in comparison, inefficient.

For ethnic groups settling in a city clustering would also provide
a sense of security and reduce the isolation of living with a foreign
culture. Language difficulties could also be overcome since many
people in the surrounding area would be able to help. Any
problems faced as a result of ethnic origin such as discrimination
or racism could be dealt with as a community. Security would be
found with numbers since people would have more influence as a
community and be more likely to rectify any problems. The ethnic
basis for the clustering would provide an enforced bond between
the people and more of a community spirit eg. lending and sharing.
As an ethnic group the community would function more efficiently
perhaps even in loyalty to their culture.
Since growing up in an ethnic community would result in more
friends and contacts from the same area it is most likely that
subsequent generations would settle there.
By clustering as an ethnic group people could maintain many
aspects of their culture such as festivals and rituals which would
otherwise have been forgotten or too unpractical. Preservation of
of identity and promotion of one`s cultural heritage is important to
most ethnic groups.

2)The Bengali community of Camden, London can in many
ways be compared to a "Ghetto" in the US sense. Like
a characteristic "Ghetto" the community occupy a
fairly large area with clear boundaries eg. Hampstead
road. The community would also expand outwards as a
"Ghetto" does as opposed to "leapfrogging" to a
further location where the advantages of an ethnic
community would be lost. Like a "Ghetto" the basis for
ethnic separation is more colour and origin orientated
than religion or other differences. In both cases this
results in discrimination and often violent forms of
Other similarities with a "Ghetto" would include the
seeming lack of police interest in the area and its
inhabitants. This would explain the need the
inhabitants feel to deal with their own problems, more
often than not in a gang warfare style, common to both
types of community.
There are also however several notable differences
between the effects of ethnic segregation in London
and the US. The "Ghetto" in the US sense has had a
much longer history and generally functions on a much
larger scale than the Bengali community in Camden. The
scale of the Bengali concentration is small enough for
the common culture to enforce the bond between the
community. On a "Ghetto" scale however this common
culture is frequently lost or forgotten and as a
result tension builds within the ethnic community
often causing rival gangs to form and clash.
In this sense "Ghetto`s" are large enough for most
people not to have to worry about racial tension and
violence. In Camden however since all of the
surrounding population are in majority white, the
effect of racial tension is more severe. This could
explain the need for a stronger communal bond and
virtually no tension within the community.

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