Many of the areas to be targeted are predominantly white and working class where traditional jobs have gone amid dramatic social changes.
Some have seen a rise in far-right political activity or long-term anti-social behaviour problems.
Others have seen a collapse in trust in local authorities and services and resentment over the arrival of Eastern European workers. In all cases, existing funding and regeneration plans have not led to a change in perceptions.
Mr Denham said £12m would be spent across the areas to work out exactly why people in these areas feel aggrieved and under pressure.
He said he wanted to combat a perception that some areas were favoured over others in a competition for resources.
Mr Denham called on people in the targeted areas to speak out, even if their fears raised "difficult and uncomfortable issues".
MARK EASTON'S BLOG
I knocked on a few doors, most never opened - suspicion and resentment oozed from the cracks between front doors and frames on New Parks
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