Residential Segregation and Publicly Spirited Democracy

Hastings Cent Rep. 2021 Jan;51 Suppl 1:S23-S28. doi: 10.1002/hast.1225.


Successful deliberations over contentious issues require a publicly spirited citizenry that will encourage elected officials to promote what James Madison called the “permanent and aggregate interests” of the country. Unfortunately, atomizing forces have pulled American society apart, undermining trust and making collective action difficult. Residential segregation is one of those atomizing forces. Residential segregation undermines a commitment to civic virtue because it encourages people to think about fellow citizens as “others” with whom they have little in common. To address this situation, we must start by fixing our neighborhoods and creating local institutions that enhance trust and foster a public-spirited democratic citizenry. For example, our existing educational policies reinforce the disparities associated with residential segregation and have created massive resource inequalities among school districts across the country. A useful first step would be to equalize school district funding to promote a more genuine equality of opportunity.

PMID:33630336 | DOI:10.1002/hast.1225