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Territories of Poverty


Deborah Cowen, University of Toronto


Nik I Ieynen, University of Georgia

Melissa W Wright, Pennsylvania State University


Mathew Coleman, Ohio State University

Sapana Doshi, Cniversity of A. riwna
Zeynep Gambetti, Bogazi'ri University
Geoff Mann. Simon Fraser University
James McCarthy, Clark University
Beverly ylullings, Queen's University
Harvey Neo, National University of Singapore
Geraldine Pratt, University of British Columbia
Ananya Roy, University of California, Berkeley

Michael \\Fatts, University of California, Berkeley



Ruth vVilson Gilmore, CUNY Graduate Center

Jamie Winders, Syracuse Univelsity
Brenda S. A. Yeoh, National Universlty of Singapore


Athens and London


Preface: \Vhy Territories of Poverty ~o\'... ?



Introduction: The Aporias of Poverty


SectiDn 1


Programs of GOIJernment
vVhat Kind ot Problem Is Poverty? The Archeology of an Idea


Representation: An Archeology of Poverty fiJI the Presenl



Is Poverty a Global Security Threat?



Paying for Good Rehavior: Cash Transfer Policies in the vVild



Data-Mining for Development? Poverty, Payment, and Platform



Representation: Fast Poljcy m a :\fobile World


SeClion 2


The Ethics of Encounter

Disa.ster Markel.s and the Poverty Factory


Representation: The Privatization ofEvcrything?






Our Past, Your Future: Evangelical Missionaries

and the Script of Prosperity


Representation: Moving Beyond the Geography of Privilege



Why Territories of Poverty Now?


The Duration of Inequality: Limits, Liability,

and the Historical Specificity of Poverty


Funding the Other California: An Anatomy

of Consensus and Consent

Section 3


Geographies of Penality arid Risk

Class, Ethnicity, and State in the Making of Marginality:

Revisiting Territories of Urban Relegation
Representation: Poverty Action in Neighborhoods of Relegation


From Poor Peripheries to Sectarian Frontiers:

Planning, Deve!oprnt:nL, and lhe Spatial Production
of Sectarianism in Beirut

Gray Areas: The "Var on Poverty at Home and Abroad



Spatializing Citizenship and the Informal Public



Representation: The Bridge between Design and Poverty Action



Conclusion: Theory Should Ride the Bus



interest in questiOns of poverty and inequality has been directed by the

numerous places and histories that have shaped our lives, from Kolkata, India,
to Chiapas, Mexico; from Oakland, California, to Beirul. Lebanun. Convening
and curating a joint project of scholarship, we were both inspired by two genres
of research, critical ethnographies of development and social histories of welfare
and pcnality, which have allowed us to make sense of these places and histories.
We were also keenly aware that these genres remained divided and separated,
rarely in conversation across academic borders. Yet in our academic and political
lives, we each drew extensively on both, crossing these forbidden borders out
of necessity. From the very start, Territories oj Poverty was meant to occupy this
transgressive space.
Rut there was something else that mattered to LIS: the work of theory. This
project is unapologetically concerned with theory-theory as an argument
about the world, theory as a concern wilh lhe epislemology o[ power, and theory
as a collective imagination. Bound together by the classroom of the public wliversity where we first met- Emma as student and Ananya as teacher-we have
participated in the scarcely voiced and yet ever-present task of rethinking our
inheritances of authoritative knowledge. Theory for us-as those initial roles
of student and teacher have been dramatically revised and reversed-remains a
crucial site of pohtics. And theories of poverty have been especially important.
Following Alice O'Connor's work, we are mterested in the encounter between the
social sciences and the problematic of poverty. As Emma notes in the conclusion
of this book, "how we think and act on poverty informs how we imagine what
is possible, and what is just." To remake theories of poverty is thus an effort to
consider what this book series foregrounds as key Lhemes: geographies o[justiu:
and social transformation.
But to remake theory is also an effort to remake the institutional context
within which we undertake the work of representation. Theory, as Emma notes,
must ride the bus! To do so we engage not only in interdisciplinary collaborations but also in intergenerational ones. It is in the interstices of disciplines and
generations that new possibilities of representation and transformation can be




Karin'., L:.mia. 2008. "l).:mystifying lvtkro-Crcdit: The Grameen Runk,

I\euliheralism in Bangladesh."' Ctllti~ral Dynamics 20:1, 5-29.



Section 3

LaClau, Ernesto. 1977. PoliriC's Clfld Ideology it! 1\;f,Ir:ri,t Theory: Capitalism, Fa~,cism

Populism. London: NLl:1.

Levy, racl)ues. ZOO? Ccsar C/i!lH'Z.'/1iogmpln' qf La ('allsa. Minneapolis; University
of Minnesota Press.
Li, Tania. 2COj. Th~' vVilI to Improve: (;oveulmell;ulity LJel'Clopment, and the Pmctice of
H)/itic5. Durham: Duke University Pres.;
Marlin, Philip. 1997. "Promises Vnfulfilleu: Unions, Immigration, and tbe Farm Work_
ers." PhD diss., Cornell University.
Mass<'y, [loret.'tl, 2004. Space, Plaa, alld Gmdcr. Minn<,aro1is: University of Minnesota
!vIoLlffe, ChantaL 2006. The RetHrfJ of the Po/itic<1'. Brook1~'n: \'erso

Mora, Dambi~a. 2010. Dead Aid: Why Aid is Noc ~'r(Jrkillg anJ f{U\\' There 1~ 1 Berter
\-1'ayjl)T Africa. \'ew York. Farrar, Stram dnd Gimux.
Peterson, M. N., 1"'1. /. Pc-terson, and T. R. Peterson. 2005. "Conservation and the Myth
of Consensus." Conservation Biology 19, 762-.67-








....:::~.. "





Prahalad, C K. 200'1_ The Fcwtl1ne at the HotfDm of the P,YIwnid' EmdiC'atinS Poverty
Thruugrl Pront. Upprr Saddle River. N.!.: Wharton School Publishing.
Rodriguez:, Dylan. 2007. "The Political Logic of the .son-Proht Indcstrial Complex:' In
The RcvolutlO!1 will Not Re Hmd~'d &yund the l\\m-Pru{rt INd"strial Camp/e)(, ed.
lNCTl'E! Wumen of Color against \'iolence, 21-40. Cmnbr:dge, Mas~.: South End
Rodofs, Joan. 2003. POlmduticl1S and Publk Puliey: The Mask ofPlJ~rali~m, Albany'
State University of :-.Jew York Pres~.
Roy, Ananya. 2003. Cit)' Requiem. Calcutta: Gender and Ihe Poliiics of Pavcrty. MlOncJ.?olb. University of ,\1mnesota Press .
Roy, Anany,l. lOW. Pul'l:'rt)' Capital: Micmjilllmt"c' mod the ,'-laking ajDf't'dopment. New
YorK Routledge.
Taylor, J, Edward, Philip L. Martin, aud Michael fix. 199;'. Poverty amid Pro$perity
[mmigraUon and the Ch,wXilJg },uc of Rural Cul~fomia. \-Vashington, D.C'.: The
Urh;m Imtitute.
u.s. Environment,ll Protection Agency. 2013. "State Agricultural Profiles: California."

http:,! /wWW.t:P,LgOV/ region~/ agi ag -slal(',hLrnl.

Villarino, Da\'ld. 2008. Intel'yicVl' with author.
Willj8.m~, R8.ymond. 1985. Keywords: /1 V()ca~r;lary of Culture and Society. Oxford:
Oxford Univclsity Press.

Geographies of Penality and Risk

From .t~e g.he!fOS of the North Atlantic to the cities o[ the global South-and at
t~le mlbtarlLed ~orden that confound sllch neat <Ul<llytic categories-the questIon of powrt~' lS also and always a question of surplus popUlations. Poverty
program,', malt seek to integrate the poor and transform poor neighborhood;,

b~t ,ther an;> <lls~ ca~culative strukgics for managing risky bodies and stigmatized
places. In arguing tor an analytical shift from spaces of ponrty to territories of
poverty, we art' particularly attentive to hov", practices of security normalize and
~~pmdl1ct'. the ways in whkh puverty is spatia1ized and borde;ed. We are also
~nter~ste(~ m the qllt:~tion of praxis in ten (luries and spaces of poverty: collective
lm<lglIlatlCm that r~lnVents public institutions and rearranges geographies of
knowledge productIon and exprrtisc.


Class, Ethnicity, and State in the

Making 01 Marginality: Revisiting
Territories of Urban Relegation














-.JI.. . ~.

To relegale (from lhe late Middle English, relegaren, meaning to send away,
to hanish) i~ lo a.'isign an individual, population, or category to an obscure or
inferior pusition, condition, or \oc;)tion. In the postindustrial city, relegation
takes the form of real or imaginary consignment to distinctive sociospatial formations variously and vaguely referred to as inner cities, ghettos, enclaves, no-go
area:-., problem uisLricts, or simply rough neighborhoods. How are we to characteriLe and differentiate these spaces, what determines their trajectory (birth,
growth, decay, amI death), whence comes the intense symbolic taint attached
to them al century's edge, and what constellations of class, ethnicity, and state
do they both materialize and signify? These are the questions I pursue in my
book Urban OUlcasts through a methodical comparison of the traJectories of
the black American ghetto and the European working-class peripheries in the
era of neoliberal asu:'IHlancy (Wacqnant 2oo8b)l 1n this chapter, I revisit this
cross-cunlinental sociology of"aclvanced marginality" to tease out its lessons for
our understanding of the tangled nexu<; of symbolic, social, and physical space
in the polarizing metnlp{llis.
To ~peak of urban relegation - rather than "territories of poverty" or "lowincome coI1llIlunil y:' for instance-is to insist that the proper object of inquiry
is not the place itself and its residents but the multilevel structural processes
whereby persons are selected., thrust, and maintained in marginal locations, as
well as the social webs and cultural forms they subsequently dewlop therein.
Relegation is a collective aLlivily, not an individual state; a relation (of economic,
social, and symbolic puwer) hetween collectives, not a gradational attribute of
persons. It reminus Wi lhal, to avoid falling into the false realism of the ordinary
and scholarly common sense of lhe moment, the <;ociology of marginality must
fasten not on vulnerable "group"," (which often exist merely on paper, if that)
but on the irlStitutionai medlartisms that produce, reproduce, and transform




the network of position:, to which its suppn<.;ed members are dispatched and
attached. And it urges us to remain agIlustic as t(1 the pal'tkular social and spatial
configuration assumed by the resulting district of disposscssion. 2
Urban Outcasts is the summation of a decade of theoretical and empirical
research tracking the cause~" forms, and consequences of mhan "polarization
from below" in the United Slale . . and \Neqern Europe after the close of the
ForJist- Keynesian era, leading to a diagnosis of the predicament of the postindustrial precaddt coaleSCing in the neighborhoods of relegatiull of advanced
society. The book bnngs the core tenets of Rnurdieu's sociology to bear on a
wide array of field, .'lurvey, and histurical data on illiler Chicago and outer Paris
to contrast the suddt~n implosion of the black American ghetto after th~ riots
of the 19605 with the slow decomposition of the working-class districts of the
French urban penphery in the age of deindustrialization. Tt puts forth three
main theses and sketches an analytic fIamewOIh. for renewing the comparatr... e
study of urban marginality that I spotlight to help llS elucidate: the rebtions of
poverty, territory, and power in the postindustrial city.












From Ghetto to Hyperghetto, or the Political Roots of Black Marginality

[Jrban Outcasts opens by parsing the reconfiguration of race, class, and space
in the American metropolis because the foreboding figure of the dark ghetto
has hecome epicentral to the social and scientioc imaginary of urban transformation at century's tum.' On American shores, the abrupt and unforeseen
im'olution of the "inner city" -a geographk euphemism obfuscating the reality
of the ghetto as an instrument of ethnoracial entrapment imposed II n iqut'ly on
blacks-was the target of a fresh plank of ?olicy worry and scholarly controversy. A(ross vVestern Europe, vague images of "the ghetto" as a pathological
space of segregation, dereliction, and deviance imported from America (with
rekindled inte!1S1ty after the los Angeles riots of spring 199:7.) snffmed a~ well
as obscl1reo jonrnalistic, political, and intellellual debale ... on immigratiun and
inequality in the dualizing city.
The first thesis, accordingly, charts the historic transition fran! gJIetto to I-ty"
perghetto in the United States and stresses the pivotal role of state strtlt~ture and
policy in the (re)production of racializtu marginality. Revoking the trope of
"disorganization" inherited from the Chicago school of the 1930S and rejecting
the talc of the "underdass" (in its structural, behavioral, and neo-ecological
variants) that had come to dominate research nn race and pO\'erty hy the 19Ro.'i,
l !rban Out(QSt.~ shows that the black American ghetto collapsed after the peaking
of the civil rights mon~ment to spawn a novd organizational constellation: the
hyperghctto. To be more precise, the "Black Metropolis;' lodged at the heart of

Class, Etfmicity. and Stare. 249

the white city but cloistered from it, that both ensnared and enjoined African
American urbanites in fl reserved perimeter and a \'.,,~b of shared institutions
built by and for blacks between 1915 and 19t15 (Drake and Cayton 1993), col
lapsed to give way to a dual sociospatial formation. This Jecentered formation,
stretching across the city, is composed of the hypcr~hfttl) proper (HyGh), that
i.~, the vestiges of the historic ghetto now encasing the pn'l"arized fractions of
the black \yorki ng das ... in a barren territory of dreflo ,md dissolution devoid of
economic function and doubly segregated by race and class, on the one hand,
and of the burgeoning bllL"k middle class districts (BMCD) that grew mostly via
pllhlic employment in satellite areas left vacant by the mass exodus of whites to
the suburbs, on the other. Whereas space unified African Americans into a compact if stratified community from \-VorId vVar I to the revolts of the 19nos, now
it fractures them along class lines patrolled by state agencies of social control
increasingly staffed by middle-class blacks charged with overseeing their unruly
lower-class bretlJren (Pattd!o 2000, 2007). The encapsulating dualism of thE
Fordist half-century inscribed in symbolic, sociaL and phy~ical space, summed
up by the equation White:Black :: City:Ghetto has thus been superseded by a
more complex and tension-ridden structure White:Black :: City::nMcD:HyGh
ac(ording to a fractal logic according to which the residents of the hyperghetto
find themselves doubly dominated and marginalized.
Breaking with the stateless cast of mainstream U.S. sociology of race and
poverty, Urhan Outcasts then hnds that hyperghettoizati()J1 is economically underdetei"milled and politically on~rdetermined. The moq distinctive cause of the
extraordinary social intenSity and spatial concentration of black dispossession
in the hyperghetto is not the "disappearance of work" (as argued by Wilson
199(1) or the stubborn persistence of"hypersegregation" (as proposed by Massey
and Denton lYY3), although these two forces are eVidently at play. it is government policies of urban abandonment pur::-ued across the gamut of employment,
welfare, education, housing, and health at multiple scales-federal, state, and
local-and the correlative breakdm<.:n of public institutioI15 in the urban core
that has accompanied the downfall of the communal gh~tto. This means that the
conundrum of class and race (a ... denegated ethnicity) in the American metropoIts cannot be resolved without bringing into our analy1ic purview the shape and
operation of the state, construed as a stratification and classification agency that
decisively shape ... the life option.~ and strategies of the urban poor.

TIle "Collvergence Thesis" Specified and Refuted

The second part -and cenltal thesis-of Ur/Jtl1l Olltcasts takes the reader across
the Atlantic to disentangle the same spatialnexm ot" dass, ethnicity, and state

Class, Ethnicity, and State


in postindustrial Europe. Puncturing the panic discourse of"ghettoization" thal

has swept across the continf'nt over the past two of'cailes, it demonstrates that
ones u[ uroan Jeprivalion in France and neighboring countries are not ghettos
al'americaine. Despite surface similarities in social morphology (population
makeup, age mix, family composition, relative unemployment, and poverty levels) and representations (the sense of indignity, confinement, and blemish felt by
their residents) due to their common position at the bottom of the material
~ymbolic hierarchy of places that make up the meaopolis, the remnants of the
black American ghetto and European working class peripheries are separated
by enduring differences of structure, function, and scale as well as by the divergent pnlitiG11 treatment.~ they receive. To sum them up: repulSion into the hlack
ghetto is determined by etJmicity (E), inflected by class (C) with the emergence
of the hyperghetto in the 1970s, and intensified by the state (S) throughout the
century, according to the algebraic formula [(.E > C) x S]. By contrast, relegation
in the urban periphery of Western Europe is driven by class position, inflected
byethnonational membership, and mitigated by slate slTJ.cLuTt\S and polides, as
summed up by the formula rCC > E) -;. S].lt is not spawning "immigrant cities
within the city," endowed with their ovm extended division of labor and duplicative institutions, based on ethnic compulsion applied unjformly across class
levels. It is not, in other words. converging with the black American ghetto of
mid-twentieth century characterized by its joint function of social ostracization
and economic exploitation of a dishonored population.
To lump variegated spaces of dispossession 1ll the city under the label of
"ghetto" bespeaks, and in turn perpetuates, three mistakes that the hnok dispels.
The flr~t consists in invoking the Lenn as a mere rhetorical device intended to
shock public conscience by activating the lay imaginary of urban badlands. But
a ghetto is not a "bad neighborhood;' a zone of social disintegration defined
(singly or in combination) by segregation, deprivation, dilapidated hOUSing,
failing institutions, and the prevalt~n(e of vice and violerH_e. It is a spaliul implement oj etimoraciai closure and cmltral resulting from the reciprocal assignation
of a stigmatized category to a re5erved territory that paradoxically oft"ers the
tainted population a structural harbor that fosters self-organization and collective protection agClinst brute domination (Wacqllant woRa, 2(11). The second
mistake consists in conflating the communal ghetto with the hyperghetto: impovcri~hment, economic informalization, institutional desertification, and the
depacification of everyday life are not features of the ghetto but, on the contrary,
symptoms of its disrepair and dismemberment. The third error misread.;; the
evolution of lriluiliunal territories in the European city. In their
phase of postindustrial decline, these defamed districts have grown more heterogeneous ethnically while postcolonial migrants have become more dispersed












even as nodes of high density have emerged to fixate media attention and political worry (Pan Ke Shon and Wacquant 2012); their boundaries are porous and
routinely crossed by residents who climb up the class structure; the number and
variety of organizations in them have dwindled, and they have failed to generate
a collective idenrity for their inhabitants-notwithstanding the fantastical fear,
coursing through Europe, that Islam would supply a shared language to unify
urban outcasts of foreign origins and fuel a process of "inverted assimilation"
(Liogier 2012). In each of these five dimensions, neighborhoods of relegation in
the European metropolis are consistently moving away [rom lhe pattern of the
ghetto as device for sodospaLial enclosure: they are, if one insists on retaining
that spatial idiom, anti-ghettos.
To assert that lower-class districts harboring high denSities of bleak public
housing, vulnerable households, and postcolonial migrants are not ghettos is not
to deny the role of ethnic identity -or assignation -in the patterning of inequalityin contemporary Europe. Urban Outcasts is forthright in stressing the "banal
ization of venomous expressions of xenophobic enmity" and the "cruel reality of
durable exclusion from and abiding discrimination on the lahor market" based
on national origins; it fully acknowledges that "eLhnicity has become a more salient marker in Frem:h social life" (Wacquant 200sb: 195-96) as in much of the
continent. But cognitive salience is not social causation. The sharp appreciation
of the ethnic currency in the political and Journalistic fields does not mf'an that
its weight has grown pari passu as a determinant of position and traje(lory in the
social and urban structure, nOI lhat it now routinely skews ordinary interactions
and everyday experience: Moreover, ethnic rifts, when they do surge and stamp
social relations, do not assume everywhere the same material form.
To maintain that ghettoization is not at work in the pauperized ano sligmatized districts of the European city is simply to recognize that the modalities of ethnuracial classification and stratification, including their inscription
in space, differ on the two sides ofthe Atlantic, in keeping with long-standing
differences in state, citizenship, and urbanism between Westf'rn Europe and the working
United States. In the urban periphery of the Old World, resurging or emerging class,
divisions based on symbolic markers activated by migration do not produce immigrant
"ethnic communities" in the \\Tcbcrian sense of segmented collectivies, ecolog- peripheries
ically separate and culturally unified, liable to act as sLlch on the political stage are not
socio(Hanton 2007), as the inflexible hypodescent -hased cleavage called race has for
African Americam-and only [or lhem in the sweep of history in the country.
unified (as
Ethnicity is defined by shifting and woolly criteria that operate inconsistently they are in
across institutional domains and levels of the class structure, such that it does the US?)
not produce a coordinated alignment of boundaries in symbolic, sodal, and
physical space liable to foster a dynamic uf ghettoization.~


The "Emergence Thesis" Formulated and Validated

Refuting the thesis of transatlantic convelgence on the pattern of the black
American ghetto leads to articulating the thesis of the t'l1urgt'llCt' vIa new regime
particular to
(If urban marginality, distinct from that which prevailed during the century of
industrial growth and consolidation running roughly from 1880 to 19~o. The
capitalism of the third part of Urban Outcasts develops an ideal-typical characterization ()fthis
post-industrial era
ascending form of "advanced marginality"-thus called became it is not n:sidual, cydlCal, or transitional, but rooted ir. the deep structure of financialized
capi[alism - that has supplanted both the dark ghetto in the United States and
traditional workers' territories in \Vestern Europe. A (fuss-sectional cut reveals
six synchronic features (chapter 8) while a longitudinal perspective ferrets out
four propitiating dynamics (chapter 9), including the polarization of the occupationfll structure and the reengineering of the state to foster rommodification.
Here I "v~nl to ,<;potlight two of thme features, the one material and the other
symbolic, to emphasize the novelty of advanced marginality.
'1 he paramount material attribute of the emerging regime of marginality in
the city is that it is fed by the fragmentation of wage labor, that is, the dittuSlOll
of unstable, part-time, shDrt-term, low-pay, and df'<ld-f'nd emrloyment at the
- ..J
bottom of the occupational ~tructurt:-a master trend that bas accelerated and
solidified across advanced nations over the pa.'lt two dc(adt:s (Cingolani 2011;
K.allebcrg 2011; Pehzzari 2009), Whereas the life (OLlrSe and household strategies
of the working c1as.~ for much of the twentieth century were anchored in
steady industrial employment set by lh~ formula 4()-5()-60 (40 hours a week
-.rr::'j-for so weeks ofthe year until age 60, in rough international ,werages), today the
unskilled fractions of the deregulated service proletariat face a simultaneous
dearth of jobs and plethora of work tenures that splinter and destabilize them.
Their temporal horizon is shortened as their social horizon i~ occluded hy the
twin obstacles of endemic unemployment and rampant precarity. translating
into the con.ioint testering of hardship and proliferation of the "working poor"
(Shiple 200--1. Clerc 2004; Andress and Lohmann 2008).
This double economic penalty is particularly prev;l\f'nt in lov,:er-dass neighborhoods gutted out by deindustrialization. One illustration: in France between
1992 and 2007, the number of wage earners in insecure jobs (short-term contra.:t~, temporary slots, gQ"ernment-sponsored posts, and traineeships) in
creased from 1.7 to l.R million to rea(h 12.4 percent of the active workforce
against the backdrop of a national unemplo)'menl rale os(illating between 7 and
to percent; for those ages fifteen to twenty-four that proportlon jumped from
17 to 49 percent (Maurin and Savidan 2008). But in the 57l officially designated
"sensitive urban zones" (zus) targeted by France's urban pohcy, the combined






Class, EthniClty, and State 253

share of unemployed and precariously employed youths zoomed from 40 percent jn 199() t() abuve 6() pen.t'll\ after 2000. Far from protecting from poverty as
it expands, fragmented wage Jabor is a vector of objective social insecurity among
the rostindustrial proletariat as well as subjectiw 500<1.1 insc..::unty among the
interior strata o( the middle class- whose member~ fear social downfall and are
proving unable to transmit their status to their children due to intensified M..:itool
competition tltld the loosening of the links between credentials, employment,
and income. On this count, U.rban Outcasts is an invitation to rdirlk cla$s structure and urhall structure from the ground up and a warning that an exclusive
focus on the spatial dimension of poverty (as fostered, for imlance, by studies of
"neighborhood dfects")6 partakes of the obfuscation of the new social question
of the early twenty-first century: namely, the spread and normalization of social
insecurity at the bottom of the class ladder and its ramifying impact on the life
strategies and territories of the mban precariat.
But the inexorable propagation of "McJobs"-petits boulots in France,
Billig-Jobs in Germany, lavoretti in Italy, biscatc in Portugal, and so on-is not
the only force impinging on the precariat. A second, properly symbolic vector
acts to entrench the social im:tability and redouble the ClilrurCll1iminality of its
constituents: lerriwrlal stignl!ltl;zllliun. Mating Bourdieu's theory of symbolic
power with Goffman's analysi:-i of the management of spoiled identiti~s (BQurdicu 1990; Goffman 1964), I forged this notion to capture hmv the blemish of
place affixed on zones of urban decline at cenury's turn affects the :-iense of self
and the conduct of their residents, the actions of private t.:ow.:erns and public
bureaucracies, and the policies of the state toward dispossessed populations and
districts in advanced society. First, I document that territorial taint is indeed a
distinctive, novel, and generalized phenomenon, correlative of the dissolution
of the black American ghetto and of the European working-class periphery of
the Fordist- Keynesian ptriod, that has become superimposed on the stigmata
traditionally associated with poverty, lowly ethnic origins, and visible deviance.
Since the publication of Urban Outcasts, proliferating studies have documented
the rise, tenacity. and r3mifying reverberation.~ of spatial stigma in cities spread
across three continents (\Vacquanl, Slater, and Pereira 2013).
Next, I show that the denigration of place wields causal effects 10 the dynamics of marginality via cogniti\' mechanisms operating at multiple levels. Inside
distrjct.~ of relegation, It incites residents to engage in coping strategiC'S of mutual
distancing, lateral denigration, retreat into lh~ private sphere, and neighborhood
tlight that converge to fostel' di ffidence and disidentitication, distend local social
ties, and thus curtail their capacity for proximate social control and collective
action. Around them, spatial disgrace warps the perception and behavior of operators in the civic arena and the economy (as when firms di.s..:riminatt: based on

Class, ElhniLily, and Sture' 255


location for investment and residential addres.<, for hirillg)'- as well as the deliv_
ery of core public sen i...:;;;s such a.s welfare, ht!alth, ~md pulicing (law enforcement
officers tt:t'l warranted to treat inhabitants of lowlr distnct5. in a dlSCOurtcous
and brulallllanner). In the higher reaches of social space, territorial stigma
colors the output uf specialisls in cultural productlon such as journalists and
academics; and it contaminates the views of state eliLe~, and through them the
gamut of public policies that determine marginality upstream and distribute its
burdens downstream. To label a depressed cluster of public housing a cite-ghetto
fated by lts very makeup to devolve into an urban purg,ltorycloses off alternative
diagnoses and facilitates the implementatior. of policies of removal, dispersal,
or ptlnitlve containment.













Lastly. I pmpose that territorial stigmatizatlon actively contributes to class

dissolution in the lower regions of social and physical space. The sulfurous repres~ntation.'i that 5urround and sLllrLL~t' declining districfs of dispossession in
the dllal metropo:is reinforce the objective fragmentation of the postindustrial
proletariat stemming from the combined press of employ menl precarity, the
shift from categnrical welfare to contractual workfare, and the universalization
of secondary .schooling as a path to access even unskilled jobs. Spatial stigma
robs residents of the ability to claim a place and fashion an idiom of their own;
it saddles them with a noxious identity, imposed from the outside, which adds
to their symholic pulverization and electoral devalorization in a political field
recenlereJ around the educated midcllr class. So much to say that the precariat is not a "new daJlgewus class;' as proposed by GlIY Standing (20ll), but a
miscarried wlketiv!;'" that can never come into its own preCisely became it is
deprived not just of the means of stable living but also of the- means of producing
its own rtpr~scntation. Lacking a shared language and social compass. riven
by hSSlparity, its members do not flock to support feu-rightist parties so much
as disperse and drop out of the voting game altogether as from other forms of
civic participation.

A Bourdieusian Framework for the Comparative Sociofogy of Urban Inequality

Urban Outcasts sketches a historical model of lite Clscending regime of poverty

in the city at century's turn. It forges notions-ghetto, h yperghellu, emli-ghetto,
territorial stigmatization, advanced marginality, precariat-geared to developing a comparatin' sociology of relegation capable of eschewing the uncontrolled
projection across borders of the Singular experience of a 5inglc natioJl<'11 societv
tacitly elevated to the rank of analytl': benchmark. It does so by applying t~
urban questions five principles undergirding Pierre Bourdieu's approach to the
construLtioil of the sociological ohject (Rourdieu and Wacquant 1992). These

principles are worth spotlighting by \vay of r1o~iJlg since this i~ a facet of tht'
book that has been overlooked even by its more syn;pathetic critics
Tht' fLfst principle derives direLtly from "historical epistemology," the philosophy of science developed by Ga~ton Bachclard and Georges Canguilhem,
and adapted by Bourdicu for sodal inqlliry: clearly demarcate folk from analytic
notions, retrace the travails of existing concepts in order to cast your own, and
engage the latter in the endless task of rational rectification through empirical
confrontation (Bourdieu, ChambOfl'don, and Passeron 1991). Such is the impulse behind the elaboration of <In institutional ist concepLiun of the ghetto il~ a
Janus-like contr<lption for ethnoracial enclosure, (urnmenced in Urban Outcast.>.
and completed in its st:quel, The T'rVll Fllef.' of the Ghetto, which further differentiates lhe ghetto from the ethnic cluster and the derelict district; compares
it with its functional analogues of the reservation, the camp, and the prison;
and stre:,ses the piuadoxical pronts of ghdtolz;]tion as a modality of structural
integration for the subordinate population (Wacquant 2015). Second comes the
relational or topological mode of reasoning, deployed here to disentangle the
mutual connections and conversions between symbolic space (the grid of mental
categories that orient agents in tht'i r cognitive and conative coIlstruction of tht:
world), social space (the distribution of socially dlective resources or capitals),
and physical space (the built environment resulting from rival efforts to appropriate material and ideal goods in and through space).
The third principle expresses Bourdieu's radically historicist and agonistic
vision of action, structure, and knovdedge: capture urban forms as the products, terrains, and stakes of struggles "..'aged over multiple temporalities, ranging
from the tongue duree of secular constellatjons to the midlevel tempos of policy
cydes to the short- term phenomenological horizon of per~ons at ground level.
In this perspective, America's Black Belt and France's ReJ Belt, like districts of
relegation in other societies, emerge as historical animals with a birth, nuturity,
and death determined by the balance of forces vying over the meshing of dass,
honor, alld space in the city. Similarly, the hyperghetto of the u.s. metropolis
and the anti -ghettos of \Vestern Europe arc not eternal entities springing from
some systemic logic but time stamped configurations whose conditlOns of genesis, development, and eventual decJ)' are sustained or undermined by dis! inct
configurations of state and citlZenshlp. The fourth tenet recommends the use of
ethnography as an instrument of rupture Jnd theoretical construction, ratht'f
than simple means for producing <1n experience-near pic lure of OIdinary cultural categories and social rElations. It implit's a fusion of theory and method in
empirical re~earch that overturns the conventional division ofintdlcctuall..tbor
in urban iIlquiry marked by the routine divorce of microscopic observation and
macroscopic conceptualization.o(



CLass, Ethnic;ty, Imd State 257

l.ast but not least, we must heed the constitutiv~ p(]wer of symholic "I ructllrc:)

of regulation of poverty knitting restrictive "workfare" and ex.pansive "pris"

the object ivt' webs of positions that make lip

onfare" into a single organi7i.1tional and cultural mesh tlung over the problem

~ide, and on the incarnak systems of dispositions that

territories and categories of the dualizing metropolis (Wacquant 2009b, 2009C,

and track their dOLlble effects,

institutioll.'i, on the'



compose the habitus of agents, on the other. As illustrated by territorial stigmati_


zation, this principle is especially apposite for the analysis of the fate of depI ived

fractions of the postindustrial \ ..iorking class concentrate turn out to be the

and disparaged populations, such as today's urban precariat, that have nn control

pnme targets and testing ground on which the neoliber<11 Leviathan is being

over their representation and whose very being is thf'rf'fore molded by the Cate-

manufactured and run in. Their study

gorization- in the litera! sense of public

to scholars of the metropulis, but also to theorists of state power and to citizens

t ht'm


-of outsiders, chief among

professionals in authoritative discourse such as politicians, juurnalists,

The wards of urban dereliction wherein the precarized and stigmatized


therefore of pressing interest, not just

mobilized to advance sodal jLlstice in the twenty-first ..:entury city.

and social scientists. So much to say that the sociologist of marginality must
punctiliously abide by the imperative of epistemi..: reflexivity and exert cunstant

, >-c.:::


, CO

! L..I.-.J

vigilance over the myriad operations whereby sbl' pruduct's her object, lest she

get dra,,,"n into the cla~"i(jl:al ion

~truggles over districts of urban perdition


-;ht' h<ls lor a mission to ob!E'ctivize.

These five principles rr()pel the comparative dissection of the triadic nexus
of dass (trans)formatio(l, graduations of honor, and state policy in the nether
regions of metropolitan space across the Atlantic ('rt'~t'n1ed in this book. They


can also fruitfully guiJ~ a triple extension of tht" sociology of urban reiegatlon

marginality via 3ociohistorical transposition and conceptual amendment to

encompaSi; other countries of the capitalist COle as well a:-; rising nations of


.'ihare shifti Ilg rapi11ly (Atkinson, Roberts, and Savage



in Lhe ~ra of socia 1insecurity across continents, theoretical borders, and institutions. Geographically, they can steer the adaptation of the schema of advanced

the Second -V\Torld where dispilfities in the JTlt'tropolis are both booming and

20ID; WU

and \\"ebster



Murray 2011; Perl-

Theoreti..:allv, taking Bourdicu's distinctive


concepts and propositions into city trenches otters a formidable springboard


a new set of powerful and flexible notions (habi Ius, capital, social space, field,


to both challenge and energize urban sociology in gZabo. It does Ilot jU-;i add
Joxa, symbolic pU\o\ier) to the panoply of establish~d perspectives: it points to

thr possibility of recono..:eptualizing the urban as the domain of accumulation,

difi"t;>rentiation, and contestation of manifold forms

at o..:apital, which effectively

makes the City a central ground and prize or"historical ;)truggles.

On the institutionJI front, the consolidaLiuIl (If a new regime ofnrban marginality begs for a foc'.l:-.t'd analysis of the policy moves whereby governments
purporL to curb, contain, or reduce the very poverty that they have paradoxically
spawned through economic "deregulation" (as re-regulation in favor of firms),
welfare retractlon and re-\"umping, and urban retrenchment. It calls, in othe"r
words, for linking changirlg)cmns of urban margirutlil), with emerging modalities
{~r 5tate-crafting. J do this ill Illy book Punishil1g rhe Poor, which enrolls Bour(,li~u'~ umcept ofhuremLcratic field to diagram the IOvention of a punitive mode


1. For a recapitulation of the biographical, analytic, and Civic llnderpinnings of this

pro;ect. see Wacquant 2009.:1, e~pe(iall)' 106-10.
2. In rartlCular, we can:1ot presume' that the resulting ~ocial entity IS a "commnnity"
(implYing at minimum a ~hared surround and identity, hori7nntal social honds, and
common interests), even a community of fate, given the clive-rsity of social trajedurit:s
that l~ad lllto and out OfSllCh ::Ire-,,~. We <'Ilso should not presuppose that inc.:um~ level or
material deprivation is thf' preeminf'nt principle of vi~ion allli division, a~ persons with
low incomes in ~.ny society are reIIlJ.rkahly heterogeneous (artists and the elderly, service
wOrKt'[s and gmollate ~tudeIlb, Ilath'e hurneless and paperless migrants, etc.) and form
at he<;t a statistical category. For a lli~ll1rical recapitulation of the IDaded meanings and
persistem ,1mbiguilies of lhe notiou (If "community" in U.S. hisLory, see Bender 1978.
\. The r.lULual COJ1~ambatiun and :.:-ommon interrr:ingling of scholarly and ordinarv
visions (If 'J.rban lite 1S stressed by lla1l19i\8 and Low 1996.
4. Collapsing these three leyds (onflates collective conscience with socialmorphotogy,
elite Jiscourse, and everyday action, and it mechanically leads to overestimating both the
novelty and the potency of ethnicity as determinant aflife chan.:es, as does Amselle 2011 .
5. ror a model study breaking down ethnicity across social forms and scales, see Brubaker et al. 2008; a germane argument from an anal y1ic angle i~ \Vimmer 2013.
6. The bllilt in blindness of such no'search to macrostructural economic and politic<'I1
f(}rce~ IS stressed by Tom S13ter 2013.
-;_ [n April 2011 the Hlgil Council for Fighting Discrimination and for Fqll:tlity
(HAlOE) recommended to the French government th<'lt rt'siLientiaiiocation he add~d to
the eighteen criteria on the basis of which natiomll::J.hor law sanctions discriminatioll,
in recognitlOn of the prevalence of "address aiscriminat,on:'
8. The peculiar genre ofre-~f'arch unthinkingly labeled "urhall ethnographY" in the
English-speaking academy is hH<;sfully atheoretiLal, as if OIle clluld carry out embedded ohservation of anything without an urimling analytic model while grand theories
of urhan transformation ~}IOW little lUllCefi1 for how structural forces imprint (or not)
patterns CI[ action aIld mearl'llg in l'\ eryda} Iift-. One of the aims of Urhm Outcasts i~ to
btidge lliatchasl11 and to draw out the matlifold empirical and conceptual benefits arising


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