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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Understanding the social context of the Schelling Segregation model


A recent article [Vinkovic D, Kirman A (2006) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:19261?19265] showing that the Schelling model has a physical analogue extends our understanding of the model. However, prior research has already outlined a mathematical basis for the Schelling model and simulations based on it have already enhanced our understanding of the social dynamics that underlie the model, something that the physical analogue does not address. Research in social science has provided a formal basis for the segregative outcomes resulting from the residential selection process and simulations have replicated relevant spatial outcomes under different specifications of the residential dynamics. New and increasingly detailed survey data on preferences demonstrates the embeddedness of the Schelling selection process in the social behaviors of choosing alternative residential compositions. It also demonstrates that, in the multicultural context, seemingly mild preferences for living with similar neighbors carry the potential to be strong determinants for own race selectivity and residential segregation.

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