LIVEDIFFERENCE policy meetings in Brussels



On 13th November 2014, the LIVEDIFFERENCE team visited Brussels and conducted a series of meetings to discuss how the research findings might be applied to inform existing policy and to identify new strategies for developing inclusive societies and creating togetherness. Meetings were held with representatives from organisations including Annemarie Wiersma and Torben Bach Nielsen from the European Economic and Social Committee and Victoria Hayward from the UK Research Office. During these meetings the LIVEDIFFERENCE team disseminated policy briefings and discussed the key findings from the research project.

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The Privatisation of Prejudice: Equality Legislation and Political Correctness in the UK published on 17th November

The Living with Difference Research Programme is producing a series of twelve briefings which will be launched at regular intervals.

Brief No.1 Inequality and Class Prejudice in an Age of Austerity in an age of austerity. Originally published by the SPERI Policy Briefing Series on 29 October 2014:

Brief No. 2 Integrative Encounters: the Challenge of Creating Meaningful Contact Across DifferencePublished on 7 November 2014.

Brief No.3 The Privatisation of Prejudice: Equality Legislation and Political Correctness in the UK. Published on  17th November 2014.

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ICoSS Poster Exhibition, May 2014


From 1st- 30th May, 2014 LIVEDIFFERENCE hosted a poster exhibition in the Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences (ICoSS) at the University of Sheffield. The exhibition featured 17 posters covering all aspects of the research project ranging from a general project overview, methodological techniques used and key themes and findings. It also provided the opportunity to watch a short animated film about the project. The exhibition was open to all visitors to ICoSS and attracted an international audience over the course of the month.




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Final LiveDifference Conference 2014

The Future of Social Relations: rethinking prejudice and togetherness in times of crisis

21st-23rd May 2014, Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield



In the 1990s J.K. Galbraith suggested that contemporary western societies were characterised by a ‘contented majority’ – who were economically successful and secure, and had little in common with, or concern for, excluded minorities. In the 21st century Jock Young (2007) argues that this culture of contentment is a myth. He points out that the rapid social and economic change that has characterised the recent past has made the world seem a less reliable or secure place for majority as well as minority communities. The global demand for flexible labour and the impact of the global financial crisis have reverberated through the employment structure creating chronic job insecurity even amongst the professional middle class.

This economic insecurity has been exacerbated by a process of individualisation in which individuals now have greater choice about how to live their lives than previous generations but are also increasingly held responsible for managing the social risks that ensue from this freedom. At the same time, de-traditionalisation and a growing awareness of the pluralism of values has meant old institutions of family, community, and religion no longer offer the same levels of security/certainty.

The pressures of these economic and social transformations are knocking onto communities as well – with population change, mobility and economic/social uncertainty all creating insecurities over the competition for resources and rights between social groups. As a consequence there is a risk that social responsibility, trust and social cohesion may become casualties with the consequent (re)emergence of a heightened intolerance of difference; the desire for stricter (real and symbolic) boundaries between self and other; and the increasing scapegoating/demonization of certain groups in society producing new patterns and forms of prejudice (evidenced for example by an increase in support for far right and extremist parties across Europe) – despite the development of equality legislation.

In this context a number of scholars have begun to argue that we need to rediscover a broader framework of social solidarity, recognising that the insecurities of the risk society demand an ‘ethic of care’ for those unlike ourselves. Yet, while there is growing evidence that the growing proximity of difference is producing positive encounters which have been celebrated as cosmopolitanism, the question of how such everyday interactions predicated on acts of care or kindness for ‘others’ can be scaled up to achieve wider social change and a truly progressive society remains unanswered.

In response, the conference was comprised of papers that critically engaged with the future of social relations to stimulate further debate about the changing nature of prejudice and intolerance in the 21st century and to identify new strategies for developing inclusive societies and creating togetherness.

The conference was attended by over 100 delegates, from 15 different countries, including the United States of America, Australia, Brazil and Taiwan.

The conference ran for 3 days and consisted of 16 sessions on topics such as:

  • Negotiating meaningful contact;
  • Domestic diversity;
  • Faith and secularism;
  • Creating solidarity;
  • Race and Racism;
  • Gender, sexuality and prejudice;
  • Refugees and asylum seekers;
  • And, migrant encounters.

Keynote Speakers and Panellists

  • Halleh Ghorashi, Professor of Diversity and Integration at VU University of Amsterdam and author of Ways to Survive, Battles to Win: Iranian Exiles in the Netherlands and US.
  • Aleksandra Jasińska-Kania, Professor of Sociology, University of Warsaw, author of Poles among Europeans
  • Ted Cantle, Founder of the Institute of Community Cohesion
  • David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Anti-Semitism
  • Lisa Doyle, Advocacy and Influence Manager of the Refugee Council
  • Ghaffar Hussain, Managing Director of Quilliam Foundation

For further information a copy of the conference programme is available to download.




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AAG 2014, Tampa, Florida

This gallery contains 4 images .

As well as presenting six research papers at the Association of American Geographers conference in Tampa, Florida in April 2014, …Continue reading →

Public debate: ‘Are we becoming a more divided society?’

Wednesday 21st May 2014, Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield In the 1990s Galbraith suggested that contemporary western societies were characterised by a …Continue reading →


What is the Future of Feminism?

Nearly one hundred people from across the city of Sheffield and the University met to celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday 7 March 2014 at a debate about the Future of Feminism. organised and hosted by the Women@TUOS Network and Living with Difference project. Rhonda Snook, Chair of the Network, provided a welcome address. Gill Valentine, Director of Living with Difference, then gave a short presentation about the research programme and its findings about sexism and the relationship of this form of discrimination to other forms of prejudice. Participants also had the opportunity to browse a poster exhibition about the Living with Difference research programme and to talk to the research team members.

The Future of Feminism panel was chaired by Libby Purves, eminent broadcaster and journalist and 30 years chair of Radio 4’s Midweek. First up was Bea Campbell, writer and long time columnist at the Independent, frequent contributor to the BBC’s Question Time, who set the scene by describing how she believes we are now living in a new gender settlement, which she is calling a neoliberal neo patriarchy. She asserted that our steady faith in slow progress toward equality is misplaced which demands from us a feminist renaissance.

Dr Zahra Tizro, lecturer at the University of York St John, whose research interest focuses on domestic violence, gender relations and sexuality described how at least 2 women a week die in the UK and 1 in 3 worldwide, as a result of domestic violence, giving feminism a vital and vibrant role in continuing to tackle issues of sexual violence, and media sexism. Dr Finn MacKay, feminist activist for over 20 years including revitalising Reclaim the Night, coherently described how mainstream positions of power remain overwhelmingly in male hands and articulated clearly how the seven demands of the UK Women’s Liberation Movement remain relevant today. Dr Anita Franklin, last up, programme director at the Insitute of Lifelong Learning here at the University of Sheffield reminded the audience on the importance of creating and sustaining feminist alliances, particularly with those women who find themselves struggling with poverty in these times of financial austerity.

Questions from the floor followed tackling issues of maternity leave, how male-dominated cultures need to be challenged and that feminism needs to define itself in order to remain relevant in the 21st century. Inspired and invigorated by the topics of the day, a lively lunch ensued with Firth Hall filled with animated conversations and much spirited networking by the guests present.

The Future of Feminism debate is one of a series of events organized by the Living with Difference project on the theme of The Future of Social Relations. This culminates with an International Conference on The Future of Social Relations to be held 21st- 23rd May 2014, in Sheffield.

Photographs from the day



Check out what the architecture students have been up to, working on creating spatial interventions for creating meaningful contact (based on our research findings) at their blog, here:

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Warsaw dissemination event

LiveDiffrence team will hold a dissemination event for academics, researchers and ngos in Warsaw. The event will take place on Tuesday 15th of October, in a seminar room of Panstwomiasto social club (Andersa 29 St.) at 1:30 pm. We will present the results of our survey on prejudice, diversity and ‘meaningful contact’, qualitative research on tensions around the building of two mosques in Warsaw, and a study on the emigration of Poles and their encounters with difference in the UK.

If you are interested in joining us for a discussion, please e-mail Aneta Piekut a.piekut(a) in advance to book a place.

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The Mobile University lectures


Living with difference in Europe: Making communities out of strangers


Talk by Dr Ulrike M Vieten


The ‘Mobile University’ mini-lectures running on a route master bus in Sheffield intend to reach out to all people across the city. The ‘Mobile University’ concept takes into account that specialized academic knowledge should be accessible and communicated to those not familiar with the university or necessarily familiar with academic language.


On behalf of the LIVEDIFFERENCE team Ulrike Vieten gave a short lecture on Sunday the 29th of September, addressing the five layers of theme-led empirical studies and the scope of the overall research project. In addition, she introduced and discussed some quotes and emerging findings with respect to the controversial topic of ‘migration’ cutting across individual views on difference conducted in Leeds.


18 people of very different backgrounds joined Ulrike on the bus at 1.30pm despite still hot temperatures in late September. Ulrike initially familiarised the audience briefly with the notion of ‘meaningful contact’ (Valentine 2008) and also give some background information on institutional external funding for academic work (e.g. European Research Council/ ERC). The latter was of most interest to the audience as it turned out, wanting to know a bit more the EU in general, the post-2004   (im)migration to the UK  in particular, and also about the scale and numbers of migrants in Sheffield. Apparently, some were not aware that EU free movement offered choices to them (or their kids) too, enabling them to study, work or live in one of the other 27th EU countries.


For more details about the event and our lecture visit:
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