Contemporary mass society creates individuals and social groups who are left on the cultural and economic edges, and certainly out of the mainstream process of decision-making. This tendency toward homogeneity at the centre of things makes consensus much easier, because only a part of society is included in it. Minorities of any kind play a fixed role that does not disturb the central processes overly much. This marginalizing process erodes society at its base, because there is no common reference point for people.
Rapid population growth and the pace of urbanization are escalating land prices in settlements, squeezing the poor off land they have occupied, often for decades, and marginalizing them in urban housing markets.
Analysis of diverse cases -- including those of South Africa, Pakistan, and the Philippines -- shows that environmental scarcities expand marginal groups that need help from government by constraining rural economic development and by encouraging people to move into cities where they demand food, shelter, transport, energy, and jobs. In response, governments come under pressure to introduce subsidies of urban services which drain revenues and distort local markets.