Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Science


The purpose of this study is to explore the processes of social polarization, an increasing gap between the rich and poor, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, to determine the spatial characteristics involved and to investigate useful methodological tools. I argue that social polarization processes are evident in Jefferson County, and I attempt to describe and analyze the emerging spatial characteristics of polarization in the study area. The study area comprises the thirteen market areas of Jefferson County, which were broken down into 3 socioeconomic regions based on the natural breaks of market area median household income. Each market area is analyzed to illustrate how these regions reflect the three economic classes of low, middle and high. Because these social economic regions exist, social polarization may be occurring in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Principle components analysis, a factor analytic method, can create an index of component scores for the measurement of social polarization. For analysis, the thirteen market areas of Jefferson County, Kentucky, are used as cases. Based on a literature survey, four variables were found to have a direct association with an increase in income inequality. Three occupation variables represent the three economic classes. The fourth variable is median household income. The component scores can be used to measure social polarization in Jefferson County, Kentucky. One factor was extracted, having 73.8% of the variation, and a bar chart was created to illustrate the component scores. Most of the market areas fell in the middle area between +1 and -1. If these market areas increase or decrease in score thereby leaving the middle area to the extremes of greater than +1 or less than -1, then polarization with regard to vocation and income has taken place. A bivariate correlation analysis showed extremely high correlations between each test variable and between the component scores and the test variables. Further research is recommended to validate the study.


Economics | Geography