Multiscale measures of population: within- and between-city variation in exposure to the sociospatial context

Ana Petrović, Maarten van Ham, David Manley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Appreciating spatial scale is crucial for our understanding of the socio-spatial context. Multi-scale measures of population have been developed in the segregation and neighbourhood effects literatures, which have acknowledged the role of a variety of spatial contexts for individual outcomes and inter-group contacts. Although existing studies dealing with socio-spatial inequalities increasingly explore the effects of spatial scale, there has been little systematic evidence on how exposure to socio-spatial contexts changes across urban space, both within and between cities. This paper presents a multi-scale approach to measuring potential exposure to others. Using individual level register data for the full population of the Netherlands, and an exceptionally detailed multi-scalar framework of bespoke neighbourhoods at 101 spatial scales, we measured the share of non-Western ethnic minorities for three Dutch cities with different urban forms. We created individual and cumulative distance profiles of ethnic exposure, mapped ethnic exposure surfaces, and applied entropy as a measure of scalar variation to compare potential exposure to others in different locations both within and between cities. The multi-scale approach can be implemented for examining a variety of social processes, notably segregation and neighbourhood effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1057-1074
Number of pages18
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2018


  • Distance profile
  • Entropy
  • Ethnic exposure
  • Spatial scale
  • Urban form


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