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Joanna Michlic

Subject Sociology » Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, Urban, Rural and Community Sociology

Key-Topics city

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The term ghetto is a concept with many meanings. It is frequently used to describe any dense areas of Jewish residence, even if no compulsory policies of residential segregation were imposed. It is also employed as a description of the geographical and social isolation of minorities other than Jews; for example, it is applied to African Americans and other ethnic communities in the US and to minorities in Japan such as ethnic Koreans. Scholars recognize that the term has assumed a life of its own since its first application and have called for systematic examination of the history of its changing meaning from the time it was first used in connection with Jews until the present ( Ravid 1992 ). Originally, the term referred to the establishment of a compulsory segregated Jewish quarter, ghetto or ghetti in pre-Enlightenment Europe. Although compulsory, segregated, and enclosed Jewish quarters had existed prior to 1516 in a few cities in Europe such as Frankfurt, the first involuntarily segregated quarter called a ghetto was established in Venice in that year. The Venetian government, motivated by utilitarian economic considerations of raison d'état , granted Jews charters, which allowed them to live in Venice. However, it required that as infidels Jews be kept in their place, both to demonstrate their inferiority for Christian theological reasons, and more practically, to restrict ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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