William Lopez

Major and Classification

Architecture, and Politics, Philosophy, & Law

Faculty Mentor

Daria Roithmayr, J.D.


Gould Law School

McNair Project

“The Theory of Emergence: Racial Segregation Patterns in the City of Los Angeles, (1900’s-2010)”

Project Abstract

Los Angeles has always been unique among American cities as a multiethnic metropolis and destination for immigrants seeking a better life in the United States. Its multiethnic character makes it a perfect case study for segregation, particularly for patterns of segregation that occur in the context of multiple racial and ethnic groups. The primary racial and ethnic minorities in Los Angeles consist of Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos. The majority initially used legal means, particularly the passage of legislation and local ordinances, to contain the perceived threat posed by each group. By the late twentieth century, most of the legislation used to segregate and discriminate against certain ethnic and racial groups had been repealed, and court decisions and new laws, such as the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act, had been implemented to protect their rights. However, despite these apparent victories, segregation persists, suggesting that while legal moments may have instigated segregation, other forces are maintaining it. This phenomenon of persistent segregation can be explained in part by the theory of emergence (Lewes 1875, p. 412), first applied to the phenomenon of segregation in the work of Thomas Schelling (Schelling 1960).