Dissertation: The Macro and Micro Foundations of Racial Residential Segregation: A Contemporary Analysis

Committee: Jennifer C. Lee and Dina Okamoto (co-chairs), Andrew Halpern-Manners, Brian Powell


My dissertation begins by examining how contemporary patterns of white flight and avoidance perpetuate racial residential segregation at the neighborhood level. I begin by documenting the emergence of “white havens”, or majority-white neighborhoods experiencing tremendous white population growth. By concentrating a disproportionate share of white households in a fewer number of neighborhoods, white havens preserve homogenous white spaces in areas otherwise experiencing rapid increases in racial/ethnic diversity. Second, I re-examine the residential patterns of Asian “ethnoburbs” that have been cited as examples of minority “self-segregation”. To the contrary, I show that ethnoburbs emerge as “ethnic” primarily due to systematic patterns of white exodus that, even in middle-class areas, prevent the formation of otherwise more integrated communities.

Next, I shift the level of analysis to understand how whites’ individual racial attitudes help explain broader patterns of flight and avoidance. Using geocoded data from a new survey of U.S. born and immigrant groups, I find that unfriendly contact with minority outgroups increases threat primarily among whites living in diverse neighborhoods. Under the same conditions of interpersonal conflict, whites perceive effectively no threat when living in predominantly white neighborhoods. These findings suggest that for whites, modern segregation conditions racial attitudes, cultivating threat of minorities in certain spaces (diverse neighborhoods) but not others (white neighborhoods). This leads to a social psychological basis for racial segregation: when faced with racial conflict, white households may leave diverse neighborhoods for predominantly white spaces that most effectively dissolve threat, reproducing segregation in the process. Theoretically, this pattern—and its consequences in the aggregate (e.g. white flight)—underscores the ways contemporary segregation continues to remain a fundamentally racial phenomenon.


Refereed Publications 

Kye, Samuel H. and Andrew Halpern-Manners. Forthcoming. “Detecting ‘White Flight’ in the Contemporary United States: A Multi-Component Approach.” Sociological Methods & Research.

Kye, Samuel H. 2018. “The Persistence of White Flight in Middle-Class Suburbia.” Social Science Research 72: 38-52.
*Schuessler Award for Graduate Research, Indiana University Department of Sociology

Lee Jennifer C. and Samuel H. Kye. 2016. “Racialized Assimilation of Asian Americans.” Annual Review of Sociology 42: 253-273.

Hunt, Matthew, Pamela B. Jackson, Samuel H. Kye, Brian Powell, and Lala C. Steelman. 2013. “Still Color-blind? The Treatment of Race, Ethnicity, Intersectionality, and Sexuality in Sociological Social Psychology.” *Authors contributions are equal. Advances in Group Processes 30: 21-45.

Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Celina Davila, Michael O. Emerson, Samuel H. Kye, and Esther Chan 2013. “Motivating Civic Engagement: In-Group versus Out-Group Service Orientations among Mexican Americans in Religious and Nonreligious Organizations.” Sociology of Religion 74: 370-391.

Ecklund, Elaine Howard, Yi Ping Shih, Michael O. Emerson, and Samuel H. Kye. 2013. “Rethinking the Connections between Religion and Civic Life for Immigrants: The Case of the Chinese Diaspora.” Review of Religious Research 55: 209-229.


Other Publications

Kye, Samuel H. 2018. “The Rise of Ethnoburbs.” Contexts 17:68-70.

Kye, Samuel H. and Jennifer C. Lee. 2018. Review of Tresspassers? Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia, by Willow Lung-Amam. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2017. Social Forces 96(3): e9.


In Progress

Kye, Samuel H. and Andrew Halpern-Manners. “If Residential Segregation Persists, What Explains Widespread Increases in Residential Diversity?” Draft Available.

Kye, Samuel H. “The Racial Context of Contact: Minority Housing Threat in Two Segregated Metros.” Draft Available.

Kye, Samuel H. “Ethnocentrism or Stratification? Obstructed Integration in Asian Ethnoburb Communities.” Draft Available.

Okamoto, Dina and Samuel H. Kye. “Group Threat, Contact, and Immigrant-Native Relations.” Draft Available.