Examining Spatial Opportunity for Local Action: From Theory to Practice

Sowmya Balachandran, Andrew Greenlee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Opportunity assessments have served as crucial tools for advocacy and policy-based action to address variability in spatially distributed urban opportunity. However, despite the vast body of theoretical and normative frameworks for discerning the effects of space, the current practices of opportunity mapping do not provide grounded assessments of differences that disproportionately affect the poor and racial minorities. We analyze seventeen opportunity assessments from the last twenty years and find issues of construct validity, implicit racial bias, and limited interpretability of outputs. More importantly, symptomatic outcomes of historical marginalization are conflated with problems of material access in poor and minority neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Planning Education and Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • historical marginalization
  • opportunity mapping
  • planning practice
  • racial bias
  • spatial justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Urban Studies


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