Project A

Mapping Social Diversity: Opportunities for Encounters

Principal Investigator
Professor Gill Valentineg.valentine@sheffield.ac.uk

Academic Staff
Professor Phil Reesp.h.rees@leeds.ac.uk

Research Fellow

Dr Aneta Piekuta.piekut@sheffield.ac.uk 

The populations of most major European cities are becoming more diverse. This is due to a range of factors including international migration, population ageing, residential mobility and life style choices. However, people of different nationalities and different class groups are not evenly distributed across cities, reflecting residential preferences and other processes, such as housing policy and processes of spatial ‘sorting’. As a result individuals living in different parts of many cities have different opportunities to encounter those who are different from themselves.

Project A comprised of two phases. Phase one involved mapping social diversity. Phase two involved a survey large scale social survey.

Mapping social diversity

Phase one involved demographic mapping which would inform the survey in phase two, and then in-depth interviews as part of Project B. Using census data (UK 2001, Poland 2002), the residential distribution of people in terms of demographic characteristics was mapped in two cities: Leeds (UK) and Warsaw (Poland). Variables were selected to represent the key social dimensions of difference: demographic, socio-economic, ethnic and disability. A standard cluster analysis using a k-means algorithm was implemented for each city separately -for ‘Community Areas’ in Leeds and ‘Urban Regions’ in Warsaw.

Graph 1. Cluster classification of Community Areas in Leeds

Graph 2. Cluster classification of Urban Regions in Warsaw

Typologies of communities (‘diversity clusters’) were produced using the census data. These clusters varied in terms of wider diversity patterns, but that were internally homogenous. So the aim of the analysis was to reduce the internal variability while increasing the external variability between the types of communities. The mapping exercise has shown that patterns of residential segregation and mix in the two cities are different. Consequently, in different neighbourhoods there exist different opportunities to have contact with people who are different in terms of age, ethnicity, religion/belief, disability and socio-economic status.

A comprehensive description of the mapping exercise and more details on the clusters are available in this working paper: click here.

Survey on attitudes, prejudice and discrimination

In phase two we used the diversity clusters to produce a stratified survey sample. A large scale survey was completed by a professional surveying company. The total sample size for the survey was approximately 1500 interviews in each city (3000 in total). The survey examined (a) whether spatial proximity generates ‘meaningful contact’ among diverse social groups, (b) what is the relationship between perceived diversity and actual diversity at the neighbourhood level, and (c) which places of encounter constitute sites that can facilitate improved forms of intergroup relations.

Among others we investigated which spaces of encounters have the strongest effect on attitudes towards people from other ethno-religious background, sexual orientation and with (dis)ability conditions. We divided spaces of encounters into five types of space: public, leisure, socialisation, institutional (workplace and study) and private (family). We have also examined in the survey how social diversity was perceived by residents of Leeds and Warsaw, and how their perceptions interplayed with social attitudes towards minority groups. Finally, we explored whether living within particular type of a social mix (the eight ‘diversity clusters’) moderates opportunities for contact with people who are different in terms of age, ethnicity, faith, (dis)ability and sexual orientation and whether residential context has an independent effect on attitudes towards minority groups. Results of these analyses will be published soon in scientific papers.

Related publications

  • Published papers

Piekut, A., Rees, P., Valentine, G. and Kupiszwski, M. 2012. Multidimensional diversity in two European cities: thinking beyond ethnicity. Environment and Planning A, 44, 12, 2988-3009.


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