invasion succession 2419

World War II, IS research had already begun
to focus on residential phenomena, including
the settlement patterns of ethnic immigrants
and shifts in community socioeconomic status.
The meaning of IS became even more restricted
after 1950. Studies by the Duncans (1957) and
the Taeubers (1969) applied the term to a spe
cific type of change in neighborhood racial
composition: from white to African American
occupancy. These studies defined additional
stages (e.g., penetration, consolidation) in the
IS process and spelled out the population
dynamics that could produce an increase in the
percentage of black residents. They also identi
fied the conditions under which IS was likely to
Many investigations conducted from the
1950s through the 1970s emphasized the pace
and inevitability of white to black transition.
Racial change was thought to proceed at a gra
dual rate until the representation of African
Americans in an area reached some vague
tipping point. Once the area tipped, whites
were deemed more likely to move out, leaving
vacancies to be filled by black home seekers
eager for better housing and neighborhoods.
The result of such white flight was accelerated
change and, ultimately, resegregation. Put dif
ferently, this common version of the IS model
precludes stable integration, black to white
change, or other racial residential outcomes.
Recent scholarship has challenged the model
on several fronts. One weakness is its overly
descriptive character: IS predicts what should
happen to a community over time but fails to
explain why. In response to this weakness, stu
dents of racial change have devoted increased
attention to decision making by both house
holds and institutional actors as an important
explanatory mechanism (Hartmann 1993).
Shifting racial composition can be seen as the
cumulation of numerous household level deci
sions to move out of, stay put in, or move into a
given neighborhood. These decisions involve
more than the ability to compete successfully
for residential position, as implied by the IS
model. Household members may take into
account their own racial preferences, how they
think residents from other racial groups will
respond to them, perceived correlates of a neigh
borhoods racial mix (safety, school quality,
property values, etc.), and what kind of future
they anticipate for the neighborhood.
Household decision making is further influ
enced by a wide range of institutions ignored in
IS research. Those institutional actors partici
pating directly in the housing market tend to be
key. Real estate agents, for example, have used
blockbusting tactics to encourage panic sell
ing on the part of white homeowners, speeding
white to black change (Gotham 2002). Current
evidence indicates that African Americans con
tinue to receive less information and assistance
from agents at all stages of the home seeking
process and are steered to certain types of
areas (Yinger 1995). Lenders and insurers have
also been shown to engage in discriminatory
behavior. Similarly, local government policies
and the efforts of residents associations can
constrain or facilitate household mobility deci
sions and thus modify the process of racial
Beyond its explanatory deficiencies, the IS
model seems out of step with certain kinds of
community change. Gentrification, occasionally
labeled reverse succession, offers a case in
point. Since the 1970s, middle class renovation
of older housing in inner city areas has typi
cally been accompanied by an increasing (rather
than decreasing) percentage of white residents
and upward (rather than downward) socioeco
nomic movement. Another trend, the rise of
multi ethnic neighborhoods, defies the two
group logic of IS. With Latino and Asian popu
lations growing rapidly across the metropolitan
US, new trajectories of change are pushing
more neighborhoods in the direction of greater
diversity while reducing the number of all
white and all black areas (Fasenfest et al.
2004). The IS prediction that African Ameri
cans will completely replace whites once they
enter a neighborhood is less accurate now than
in the past.
Multi ethnic patterns of change highlight the
significance of the larger context in which
neighborhoods are embedded. Immigration
policies and flows at the national level fuel these
patterns, disproportionately affecting neighbor
hoods in gateway metropolises such as Los
Angeles and New York. Variation across metro
politan settings in housing construction activity
can have consequences for neighborhood change