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social distance

  The separation of two or more social groups, either by mutual desire or by discrimination involving one or more against the others. Social distance is usually identified through the amount of interaction between the groups — as in rates of intermarriage: it is rarely complete (except in caste and similar societies; cf. apartheid) but is represented by a range of distances from totally integrated groups at one extreme (see assimilation) to those which live almost entirely separate lives (usually within the same urban areas) at the other (see ghetto). The social distance between two groups may be related — as both cause and effect — to the spatial distance between them within an urban area, as argued in a classic paper by Park (1926; cf. Chicago school): the greater the social distance between two groups the less they would be mixed together within the same residential area (see indices of segregation). (RJJ)

Reference Park, R.E. 1926: The urban community as a spatial pattern and a moral order. In E.W. Burgess, ed., The urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.



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