How dogs help keep multiracial neighborhoods socially segregated

phys.org | 2/7/2019 | Staff
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Cities in the United States are getting less segregated and, according to a recent national survey, most Americans value the country's racial diversity.

But the demographic integration of a neighborhood doesn't necessarily mean that neighbors of different races are socializing together.

Diverse - Areas - Part - Gentrifiers - Residents

Diverse urban areas remain socially segregated in part because white gentrifiers and long-time residents have differing economic interests. And the racial hierarchies of the United States are simply not erased when black and white people share the same space.

White residents of multicultural areas tend to overlook inequality in their neighborhoods, studies show. That further reinforces racial barriers.

Research - Neighborhood - Vehicle - Segregation - Dogs

My sociological research in one such multicultural neighborhood identifies a more surprising vehicle of racial segregation: dogs.

'A very doggie neighborhood'

Months - Creekridge - Park - Diverse - Area

I spent 18 months studying Creekridge Park, a diverse and mixed-income area of Durham, North Carolina, to understand how black, white and Latino residents interacted with each other. Between 2009 and 2011, I interviewed 63 residents, attended neighborhood events and conducted a household survey.

I learned that white, black and Latino residents led rather separate social lives in Creekridge Park. Eighty-six percent of white people said their closest friends were white, and 70% of black residents surveyed reported that their best friends were black.

Resident - Neighbors - Image - Head - 'friendly

One black resident lamented that neighbors weren't as "friendly as I had hoped and thought that they would be—or at least, this image I had in my head of what 'friendly' would be like."

White, black and Latino people in Creekridge Park even had different experiences with something as seemingly innocuous as pet ownership.

Residents - Friendships - Result - Dogs - Neighborhood

Many white residents described friendships growing as a result of walking their dogs around the neighborhood, with chance encounters on the sidewalk turning into baseball games, dinners and even vacations together.

"It's the dogs that are our connectors," said Tammy, a white homeowner in her fifties. "That's how a lot of us have...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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