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The Relationship between Spatial Segregation, Social Exclusion and Access to Healthy Food

Parsons, S.; (2007) The Relationship between Spatial Segregation, Social Exclusion and Access to Healthy Food. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access


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The intention behind this study is to explore any potential relationships between spatial segregation, social exclusion and access to healthy food, using the London borough of Islington as a case study. The aim of the report is to use spatial analysis to contribute a new definition of accessibility, and a new framework for its measurement, to the existing body of research on the subject. The methods used in the study combine these variables in a variety of ways. Borough wide analysis of Islington attempts to draw together the analytical techniques of Space Syntax, the sociological distillation of census information and the geographical use of Ordnance Survey data in order to uncover unifying patterns. Finer scale, micro study of two specific areas within the borough builds on this with the introduction of a further social variable: access to culturally specific healthy foods. In an attempt to discover the role of correspondence between social groupings and spatial proximity, the availability of certain foods was surveyed in all the retailers accessible to two specific Bangladeshi communities. Subsequent discussion reveals that correspondence is less significant than the spatial property of integration. This is argued to be of particular relevance at a local scale, as while the majority of retail relies on passing footfall, and therefore global integration, those shops serving the needs of the most vulnerable and immobile must prioritise local relationships. It is therefore suggested that shops selling a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, or those meeting culturally specific dietary requirements, are more likely to be found in areas of high local integration, or areas where the local structure is easily identifiable. While this ensures that food retailers are well distributed across the borough, therefore providing most of the population with sufficient physical access to healthy food, the introduction of an index of affordability drastically reduces this proportion, suggesting that the ability to pay may be the major restricting factor. Ultimately, food poverty is a complex issue, encompassing far more variables than those outlined here. Therefore, although spatial properties have their part to play, they are merely one of many contributing factors. It is suggested that the relationship between spatial segregation, social exclusion and access to healthy food will differ in line with the characteristics of the area being studied; for example, well established communities may be able to overcome spatial restrictions in order to meet at least some of their specific needs. It is also suggested that many of the patterns presented in this thesis are not as strong in the specific inner London context studied as they may be in more rural or suburban areas.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: The Relationship between Spatial Segregation, Social Exclusion and Access to Healthy Food
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Approved for UCL Eprints by Dr. L. Vaughan, Bartlett School of Graduate Studies
Keywords: Health, Diet, Space Syntax, Social Exclusion, Ethnicity
UCL classification: ?? BG ??
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/4977
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