[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 22, 1971

Pathogenesis of Urban Slums

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Sociology. College of General Studies, University of Alabama in Birmingham, Birmingham, Ala.

JAMA. 1971;215(12):1959-1962. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180250051013

In discussing "Pathogenesis of Slums," the point is made that our society, consciously or unconsciously, creates both slums and slumdwellers, and our social system operates to maintain them unchanged. This may perhaps motivate some readers to realize that social problems have causes other than those individually created.

How do slums begin? Slums result, paradoxically enough, from affluence. In good times, previously poor people get a little money and, as Americans will, want to move up in the world. So they do, from the East Side to the Bronx in New York or from the West Side in Chicago. The people below them in the "pecking order," people destined to occupy the job slots previously vacated as semi-skilled workers or domestics, begin to move into the old neighborhoods. The newcomers are forced to pay a higher rent or purchase price, for they are nowhere welcomed or beloved, and have little choice