Social focal point

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According to a definition of the German Association of Cities (1979), residential areas are referred to as social hotspots ( synonym problem districts ) , "in which factors that negatively affect the living conditions of their residents and in particular the development opportunities or socialization conditions of children and adolescents occur more frequently".


Today the term is used in social science literature for local areas of exclusion . These arise in spatially delimited urban residential areas, in which residents are confronted with above-average deficits such as income poverty , integration weaknesses and unemployment as well as network poverty. Other causes are bad planning in urban development and housing policy. Since the term can lead to further stigmatization , terms such as “disadvantaged district” or “district with special development needs” are officially increasingly used. In the public consciousness, the term “social hotspot” is often linked to ideas of a higher level of crime or neglect , which can lead to further disadvantage .


According to Hartmut Häußermann and Walter Siebel, segregation means “the projection of social structure onto space”. Segregation describes the fact that social groups are not evenly distributed over space. Social hot spots arise when residential areas are abandoned by privileged people due to qualitative deficiencies and households remain with little choice in choosing a place to live. As a result, the image usually changes, which leads to further rejection from so-called stable households. This process is part of a demixing of the population, which takes place especially in cities, which is known as segregation .

Isolated “islands of poverty” emerge: “While in the majority of affluent areas there are only a few low-income families, the social welfare rate for children in some urban residential areas is more than 40 percent. The local living conditions are characterized by poor infrastructure; Among the residents are many recipients of unemployment benefit II, minors and low-wage earners. In these 'islands of poverty', which are increasingly decoupled from the overall urban development, risks accumulate, which put a considerable strain on the life chances of the residents. "

Social hot spots are primarily a phenomenon in countries with high income and educational differences. The segregation there can go so far that there is talk of ghettoization to ghettos or slums . Due to the increasingly heterogeneous population in terms of education , language skills and participation in the labor market in combination with a generally increasing unemployment , changed immigration and more difficult economic framework conditions, social hot spots are increasingly becoming a problem in Western Europe as well.

Political measures

Most Western European countries try to use special policy approaches to minimize the consequences of segregation , to defuse social hot spots and to contain the consequences for the people living there. In Germany, the urban development program of the federal, state and local governments “ Socially Integrative City ” is aimed at improving the quality of life and increasing equal opportunities. The program is a further development of the renovation practice within the framework of urban development funding.

Considered a key tool for developing socially disadvantaged areas

See also


  • Hans-Jürgen Hohm: Urban social hot spots, exclusion and social help. Opladen 2003.
  • Rauf Ceylan : Ethnic Colonies. Origin, function and change using the example of Turkish mosques and cafes. Wiesbaden 2006.

Individual evidence

  1. German Association of Cities. (Ed.). (1979). Notes on work in social hot spots , DST contributions to social policy, Series D, 10. Cologne.
  2. Hans-Jürgen Hohm: Urban social hot spots, exclusion and social help
  3. LAG Soziale Brennpunkte Lower Saxony: “Activation of self-help in social hot spots” ( Memento of the original from February 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 147 kB) - Statement on the intention and objectives of the funding guidelines @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Häußermann, Hartmut; Siebel Walter (2001). Integration and segregation. Reflections on an old debate.
  5. Carolin Reisslandt / Gerd Nollmann: "Child poverty in the district: Intervention and prevention" From Politics and Contemporary History (APuZ 26/2006) online