Revisiting Loïc Wacquant’s Urban Outcasts


Loïc Wacquant’s Urban Outcasts compares poor and working‐class neighborhoods in Chicago and Paris, and concludes that American racism has combined with advanced capitalism to create hyperghettos, whereas Parisian banlieues are heterogeneous anti‐ghettos that are nonetheless destabilized by labor market and political forces that render low‐skilled workers simultaneously superfluous and without a state safety net. This review revisits Chicago in the 2000s and argues that Wacquant both overstates the collective revulsion directed at disadvantaged neighborhoods and understates contemporary processes of erasure. It also suggests that using Chicago’s marginalized neighborhoods as archetypes masks the diversity of race and class settlements in the US. This review agrees with the importance of uncovering the role of the state in shaping cities, and ultimately highlights areas of convergence and divergence in US and French housing policy as it relates to urban public and social housing.