Institute for Migration & Ethnic Studies

Do people who like diversity practice diversity in neighbourhood life?Neighbourhooduse and social networks of ‘diversity seekers’ in a mixed neighbourhood.

Blokland, T. and G. van Eijk, (2010) Do people who like diversity practice diversity in neighbourhood life?Neighbourhooduse and social networks of ‘diversity seekers' in a mixed neighbourhood. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36 (2), pp. 313-332.

Authors: Talja Blokland - Talja Blokland is Professor of Urban and Regional Sociology at Humbolt University; Gwen van Eijk - Gwen van Eijk committed to the Urban Studies research priority area at the UvA.

Keywords

  • Cohesion
  • Ethnic Diversity
  • Integration
  • Neighbourhood
  • Social Networks
  • Rotterdam

Abstract

Urban policies in various countries aim at integrating minorities into mainstream society through combating residential segregation. One strategy is to change the housing stock. Assuming that the middle classes leave certain neighbourhoods because they lack suitable dwellings, building more expensive dwellings is an important policy trajectory in the Netherlands. However, living in the proximity of other income groups is in itself insufficient to overcome racial, ethnic and class divides in social networks. The usual policy indicator for defining 'middle class', e.g. income, is not a very good predictor for the diversity of networks of people living in mixed neighbourhoods. What, then, is? The first step is to ask what distinguishes people who prefer diverse neighbourhoods. Are people who are attracted by the diversity of an area different from others? Next, we question whether people who like diversity have more diversity in their networks or contribute in other ways to a more integrated neighbourhood through their use of it. We use social network data collected in a mixed inner-city neighbourhood in Rotterdam to explore this. We argue that attracting people to an area because of its diversity may contribute to the economic viability of local businesses and possibly to the nature of interactions in public space. However, we can not empirically substantiate that a preference for a diverse neighbourhood translates into distinct practices or social networks that enhance the integration of ethnic minorities into mainstream society.

Published by  IMES

6 August 2012