Academic and lay discourses around disadvantaged urban areas often draw on the language of ‘dumping grounds’ to encapsulate the poverty, marginalisation and social problems often found there. Yet the concept of a dumping ground remains insufficiently theorised.
This paper addresses this issue by identifying five constituent features of the dumping ground:
- the perception of people as waste whose fate is to be discarded;
- the need to accommodate this human ‘waste’ and the logic by which places are selected for this purpose;
- the mechanisms through which this spatial sorting occurs as problem populations are moved to their ‘rightful’ place;
- the relations of power which enforce or encourage this mobility; and finally,
- the reactions of incumbent residents in neighbourhoods that are compelled to host unwanted social groups.
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