Micro Spaces of Social Interaction in the Superdiverse Neighbourhood

Friday, July 14, 2017
Carnegie Room (University of Glasgow)
Claire Bynner , Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
There is now a vast literature demonstrating geographical variability in the social cohesion outcomes of migration at a local level. Few studies have attempted to explain the factors that underpin this variation (Phillips & Robinson 2015). Of those studies that discuss causal factors, three themes have emerged. First, social cohesion outcomes are influenced by socio economic conditions. Second, the diversity of the established population influences local responses to new migration. Third, outcomes are influenced by how the neighbourhood is understood and represented in the narratives of local people. This article draws on evidence from an ethnographic case study of a superdiverse neighbourhood in Glasgow where long-term white and ethnic minority communities reside alongside Central and Eastern European migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, and other recent arrivals. The evidence comprises local data and documentary evidence, participant observations, qualitative and walk-along interviews with residents and local organisations. This study found that historical material and physical conditions have a strong influence on everyday interactions. The potentially positive effect of pre-existing ethnic diversity on social interactions can be drowned out by the material effect of socio-economic decline.  Yet, at the micro level, within shared residential spaces and community activities, intergroup cooperation provides a way of coping with poor material conditions and the shared experience of migration may increase empathy and trust. These findings call for greater attention to scale, context and the influence of material conditions on outcomes for social cohesion.