Trends of Social Polarisation and Segregation in Athens (1991–2011)

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Trends of Social Polarisation and Segregation in Athens (1991–2011)

  • Thomas Maloutas Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Greece
  • Hugo Botton Department of Economics, ENS Paris-Saclay, France

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Abstract:  This article investigates social and spatial changes in the Athens metropolitan area between 1991 and 2011. The main question is whether social polarisation—and the contraction of intermediate occupational categories—unevenly developed across the city is related to the changing of segregation patterns during the examined period. We established that the working-class moved towards the middle and the middle-class moved towards the top, but the relative position of both parts did not change in the overall socio-spatial hierarchy. The broad types of socio-spatial change in Athens (driven by professionalisation, proletarianisation or polarisation) were eventually related to different spatial imprints in the city’s social geography. Broad trends identified in other cities, like the centralisation of higher occupations and the peripheralisation of poverty, were not at all present here. In Athens, changes between 1991 and 2011 can be summarised by (1) the relative stability and upward social movement of the traditional working-class and their surrounding areas, accounting for almost half of the city, (2) the expansion of traditional bourgeois strongholds to neighbouring formerly socially mixed areas—25% of the city—and their conversion to more homogeneous middle-class neighbourhoods through professionalisation, (3) the proletarianisation of 10% of the city following a course of perpetual decline in parts of the central municipality and (4) the polarisation and increased social mix of the traditional bourgeois strongholds related to the considerable inflow of poor migrants working for upper-middle-class households.

Keywords:  Athens; occupational structure; polarisation; professionalisation; proletarianisation; residential segregation; segregation patterns

Published:   13 May 2021


© Thomas Maloutas, Hugo Botton. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.