Changes in Modern Urban Areas

  • Many cities, especially in developed countries, are gradually moving awayfrom uniformity in architecture and from clear-cut patterns of land use – these are known as post-modern western cities. They have a number of characteristics:
  • Multiple centreswith different purposes rather than a single centre.
  • A focus on tertiaryand quaternary industry instead of secondary industry.
  • Less uniform architecture – buildings have a wide range of styles.
  • Planning prioritisesthe aesthetics of the city over practical use.
  • Higher socialand economic inequality.
  • Many cities have elementsof post-modernism including in London, buildings such as the Gherkin and Cheesegrater, are examples of post-modern architecture, and social and economic inequalities are


Economic Inequality

  • Economic inequalityis the unequal distribution of money amongst a
  • Economic inequalitiesare higher in the developing world than in developed countries.
  • This is because many developing countries lack the resourcesto support their poorest citizens, whereas most developed nations have welfare states which provide basic services and income for people who are struggling financially.


Economic Inequality Issues in Cities

  • Politicaland social unrest, e.g. rioting.
  • A risein crime, drug use and
  • Healthproblems, e.g. cities with higher levels of income inequality have more malnourished children.
  • Cities tend to be culturally diverse- they have a wide mix of people from different ethnic and cultural
  • This can have lots of benefits- ethnic diversity can enrich a city’s character and increase tolerance, while cultural events and ethnic quarters within a city can attract tourists, boosting the city’s
  • However, cultural diversity can also cause problemsin cities, for example:
  • Tensionsbetween different groups, sometimes leading to
  • Increased pressure on
  • Minority communities can feel isolatedand under-represented politically.
  • Cities with high diversity, including people from different ethnic, socialor cultural backgrounds, may also experience social segregation.
  • This is when different groups are separatedfrom each other, poorer people or people from a particular ethnic background are concentrated in a specific area of a city.
  • This can be voluntary such as followers of a particular religionmay choose to settle close to their place of worship.
  • It can also be forced as many Roma people in Italy can’t access social housing, so they end up in campson city outskirts.


Social segregation can cause issues in urban areas, for example:

  • Lack of integration between different groups can cause prejudiceand
  • People in some areas may have less access to educationand jobs, widening
  • Segregation can lead to anxietyand have negative impacts on health and life expectancy.
  • In developing countries, poorer areas may lack access to facilities such as electricity, clean water, public transport. They are also more likely to be close to industry and rubbish dumps, affecting healthand

Strategies to Reduce Poverty and Economic Inequalities in Urban Areas

  • Improving transport systemscan make it easier for the urban poor to access jobs.
  • Subsidising the construction of affordable housingcan help less wealthy people to buy property.
  • Introducing minimum wagescan help to stabilise wage inequalities between the poor and rich.
  • Governments can offer subsidiesfor new companies, increasing local employment
  • In developing countries, many cities have introduced upgrading programmesfor slum settlements. Investments in road-building, sanitation, drainage and water supply increase the quality of informal housing.


Strategies to Encourage Social and Cultural Integration

  • Governments can encourage political participationof minority groups including by sending postcards and text messages encouraging them to  This ensures minority groups have opportunities to influence decision-making.
  • Governments can pass laws such as to prevent companies discriminatingagainst employees on the basis of race.
  • New developmentscan include luxury homes and lower-cost housing, reducing divisions between rich and poor.
  • Communities can help ease racial tensions such as by involving different groups in projects to clean off racist graffiti.

Case Study – London

  • London, a city in the developedworld, has issues associated with economic inequality, cultural diversity and social segregation:
  • London is home to some of the richestand poorest people in the UK. This gap has widened since the 1980s.
  • The average annual incomein Kensington and Chelsea is more than £130,000, but in Newham it’s less than £35,000. Low wages and few job opportunities in some areas means that more than 25% of people in London live in
  • Many inner-cityareas including Notting Hill, have been  This has forced poorer residents out of the area.
  • London is culturally diverse with more than 50% of the population is not white British. Proportions of ethnic minorities differ widelybetween boroughs.
  • Hate crimebased on race and religion is a problem in London such as in the twelve months before July 2015, there were over 800 anti-Muslim incidents in the city.
  • Social segregation based on ageand class is also an issue.
  • London residents have less interaction with people of different age groups and classes than people elsewhere in the UK. This could lead to some residents feeling


There are strategies in place to tackle these issues, for example:

  • From 2016, the London Living Wageincreased to £9.75 per hour. This should increase income and social mobility in deprived areas.
  • London mayor, Sadiq Khan, plans to build more affordable homesin London. This could allow less affluent people to remain in more expensive areas, reducing social segregation.
  • The police are working to tackle hate crime such as by encouraging people to reportit and offering support to victims.
  • Some charities are calling for better access to English language classesfor immigrants, and mentoring schemes to help recent immigrants adjust to life in the UK, with the aim of increasing integration between groups.


Case Study – Sao Paulo

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil, an emergingeconomy, also has issues of economic inequality and social segregation:
  • Economic inequality is high- the richest 10% of households earn nearly forty times more than the poorest 10%.
  • There is clear segregationbetween the richest and the poorest residents:
  • The city’s poorest residents live in slums such as 80,000 people living in Paraisopolis,Sao Paulo’s largest favela.
  • It has high crimerates, poor sanitation and high incidence of illnesses, such as  The favelas lack education facilities. This limits job options and social mobility.
  • The wealthiest residents live in the southwestof Sao Paulo, in areas such as Vila Nova Conceicao. These areas have more green space, better healthcare and access to amenities, such as luxury shops and restaurants.
  • These areas have large numbers of white immigrants, but the lowestproportion of black people in the city.


There are strategies in place to tackle these issues, for example:

  • In 2016, the minimum wagewas raised by nearly 12%, to increase income for the poorest workers.
  • In 2001, the government passed a law that allowed favelas to be recognised as legitimate residential areas.
  • This led to investment in sanitation, road building and housing improvementin favelas such as 10,000 new homes are currently being built to replace slum housing or housing in high-risk areas.