Social Residualisation

a brief description

Extract taken from ‘Stemming the Urban Haemorrhage',
part of a community document prepared by Brian Williams in 1999
for the Orchard Park Environment Redevelopment Association (OPERA), Hull, England.



The term ‘residualisation’ means a process in which a residue is created. When people move in some number from a neighbourhood or community because they believe it is no longer a desirable place to live, then what they leave behind is a social residue of less enabled people. The social balance of the area is disturbed by the departures and the people who remain are faced with concentrated poverty together with strengthening social stigmatisation.

Homes vacated by the leavers hold no attraction other than to people who cannot access accommodation elsewhere. Empty houses, overgrown gardens, and rampant vandalism contribute to the further decline of the area. Peacemeal demolition of empty property merely signals a general lack of confidence and an absence of regenerative strategy by the authorities.

Blighted estates provide temptation to council housing departments as places to ‘dump’ socially inadequate individuals or families, a policy of short-sighted convenience which serves only to worsen the situation. Also, residents of long standing who opted for home ownership under Right To Buy feel cheated as their investment for the future is eroded.

Social residualisation is economically inefficient. Services to the area are underutilised. The structural fabric is subject to frequent damage. The relative cost of community management soars, and inward investment prospects are all but destroyed. Socially, spiritually, and emotionally, residualisation produces a feeling of segregated entrapment and a disabling loss of personal esteem among remaining residents, who become less inclined to take part in the national economy.

Paradoxically, initiatives intended to remedy social residualisation can have the reverse effect. Residents who take advantage of training for employment or for a better job will, as soon as a higher level of income is available, move away from the locality. They see the area as a handicap to future career prospects and detrimental to their status as citizens.


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