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inner city

  An ill-defined area close to the central business district in capitalist cities, usually associated with dilapidation, poor housing and economic and social deprivation (cf. cycle of poverty; slum). In the zonal model developed by Chicago sociologists in the 1920s (see Chicago school), and which informed much writing about urban residential patterns for the next half-century, the inner city was characterized as: (a) the reception area for new migrants to the city, from where they were launched on their search for economic and social improvement and associated moves into the suburbs; and (b) a zone in transition whose other residents were either transients or the lowest status, geographically and socially immobile, economic groups.

The term inner city has recently been associated with portions of urban areas suffering substantial economic and social difficulties and requiring programmes of regeneration and revitalization, not least in political rhetoric (as in the British Prime Minister\'s reference, immediately after her 1987 general election victory, to the work that needed to be done in \'those inner cities\': Robson, 1988). A range of policies — such as Model Cities in the US and the Urban Programme in the UK — targeted public money on environmental improvement and job attraction to such areas: academics (see Hall, 1981) pointed out that the inner-city problem could not be appreciated apart from an understanding of the wider forces of uneven development which were stimulating counterurbanization and decentralization, however, along with other processes of spatial change which were not favouring congested, run-down, expensive inner-city areas. (RJJ)

References Hall, P.G., ed., 1981: The inner city in context. London: Heinemann. Robson, B.T. 1988: Those inner cities. Oxford: The Clarendon Press.



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