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Primary Schools, Markets and Choice: Studying Polarization and the Core Catchment Areas of Schools

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59 - 84
Number of pages26
JournalApplied Spatial Analysis and Policy
Volume1 (1)
DatePublished - Apr 2008


In this paper we distinguish polarization from other conceptions of segregation by conceiving the former as a local phenomenon. To this end we argue that evidence for any school-level separation of ethnic groups must be sought and contextualised within the local markets within which schools operate. By determining the ‘core catchment’ areas of primary schools from geographical micro-data reporting where pupils reside and which schools they attend so we estimate where and by how much schools compete with each other across spaces of admission, consider whether the ethnic compositions of those spaces are representative of the actual intakes of schools, and identify evidence of post-residential sorting and ethnic polarization, where locally competing schools draw markedly different student intakes. The focus of the study is in Birmingham, England but the results are compared with those for London.

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Publisher: Springer

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