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Segregation (as applied to different human groups) is characterized by separation of the different groups in daily life, such as when eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a rest room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home. Segregation is often claimed to be motivated by racism, but may be motivated by arguments such as this being beneficial for all groups (see ethnic heterogeneity).


A distinction is sometimes made between segregation as being involuntary (such as due to laws) and/or partial and separation as being a voluntary and/or a more complete process, which may imply territorial separation of the different groups into different, homogeneous territories. See also White separatism.

The opposite of segregation is desegregation (such as due to changing laws). Integration may be seen as the opposite of separation and may be seen as a more voluntary and/or more complete process.


Desegregation may also more specifically refer to the desegregation in the United States. It started in the 1950s and is associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

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