Development and Urbanization
Conventional approaches to understanding social segregation as a neighbourhood form of socio-spatial separation is inadequate to account for the issue of segregation within highly compact urban environments. Not only is the “horizontal” approach in conceptualising spatial closeness unable to capture separation in the vertical dimension in high rise developments, the high density built form also complicates the assessment of segregation which requires more fine grained, spatial scale measurement. Thus, even in apparently “mixed” neighbourhoods, created either by deliberate social-mix policy or market processes, such as gentrification, may not involve social integration–even if the reduced spatial distance between social groups may have apparently created the conditions for potential daily interaction between social groups. On the one hand, interactions in the form of social tectonics offer little real enhancement of social integration. On the other hand, increased levels of mobility may have enabled people to spend less time less in their neighbourhood and hence made interaction at the neighbourhood less significant to social integration. However, as mobility patterns vary a lot between different social and age groups, so do their impacts on social segregation. This paper examines social segregation within the high density urban environment of Hong Kong in which vertical living is the norm. Previous studies by the authors on the spatial segregation pattern by income, measured by a conventional “horizontal” approach, indicate that Hong Kong has a relatively low level of spatial segregation between the rich and the poor. This paper builds on this work and looks at how middle age and older people who have a wide variety of pattern of mobility, spend their time at their local neighbourhood (as proxy of social interaction), with whom they interact as well as how often they visit other neighbourhoods of the same or different level in the income hierarchy. Data on mobility and interaction were collected by a survey and indepth interviews in randomly selected neighbourhoods.