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Social apartheid

Social apartheid refers to de facto segregation on the basis of class or economic status, in which an underclass is forced to exist separated from the rest of the population. The word "apartheid", originally an afrikaans word meaning "separation", gained its current meaning during the South African apartheid that took place between 1948 and early 1994, in which the government declared certain regions as being "for whites only", with the black population forcibly relocated to remote designated areas.

Urban apartheid

Typically a component in social apartheid, urban apartheid refers to the spatial segregation of minorities to remote areas. In the context of the South African apartheid, this is defined by the reassignation of the four racial groups defined by the Population Registration Act of 1950, into group areas as outlined by the Group Areas Act of 1950. Outside of the South African context, the term has also come to be used to refer to ghettoization of minority populations in cities within particular suburbs or neighbourhoods.

Notable cases

Latin America

The term has become common in Latin America in particular in societies where the polarization between rich and poor has become pronounced and has been identified in public policy as a problem that needs to be overcome, such as in Venezuela where the supporters of Hugo Chavez identify social apartheid as a reality which the wealthy try to maintain and Brazil, where the term was coined to describe a situation where wealthy neighbourhoods are protected from the general population by walls, electric barbed wire and private security guards and where inhabitants of the poor slums are subjected to violence.

The Cuban government has been accused of creating an apartheid system, which whould be the only de facto and de jure apartheid system in Latinoamerica. Specifically, the government recognizes three groups of people with rights not granted to the others. Foreigners have rights not granted to Cubans: they can own houses and land. They can legally buy some electronics, and services such as internet, satellite TV and mobile phones. Ordinary Cubans are barred from the best hotels, beaches, shops and restaurants and cannot move inside the country or travel abroad without permission from the government. The government in practice grants permits to travel abroad, based in affinity to the regime and denies them to those who are not affine to the regime. The third group, Cubans residing abroad, can enter hotels and shops, but cannot own private property or remain in the country for more than a month as visitors. They cannot move back to Cuba as permanent residents or for retirement. Ordinary Cubans are sometimes even criminalized for approaching and talking to tourists.


The term social apartheid has also been used to explain and describe the ghettoization of Muslim immigrants to Europe in impoverished suburbs and as a cause of rioting and other violence. A notable case is the French apartheid, in which largely impoverished Muslim immigrants being concentrated in particular housing projects in French suburbs, and being provided with an inferior standard of infrastructure and social services.. The issue of urban apartheid in France was highlighted as such in the aftermath of the 2005 civil unrest in France.

South Africa

In South Africa, the term "social apartheid" has been used to describe persistent post-apartheid forms of exclusion and de facto segregation which exist based on class but which have a racial component because the poor are almost entirely black Africans. "Social apartheid" has been cited as a factor in the composition of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

See also



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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Social apartheid

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