Leading Work Package 6 (WP6):
By Thomas Maloutas (National Centre for Social Research)
Different partners take the lead in the implementation of DIVERCITIES’ work packages. The team of the National Centre for Social Research (Greece) assumes this role for WP6, and the work will be carried out in close cooperation with the project’s Scientific Steering Committee (SSC).
WP6 focuses on locating perceptions and attitudes about diversity among the inhabitants of the 14 participating cities in order to evaluate the ways diversity affects the lives of the main groups involved. Information will be collected through qualitative, semi-structured interviews: 50 interviews in each of the 14 participating cities. The interviewees are selected from new groups that constitute the main representatives/generators of diversity in each city, but also from what constitutes the dominant local group. Each local research team determines the required type of interviewees in terms of the profile of diversity in each city.
The content of interviews is related to the experiences of interviewees in their neighbourhoods in terms of housing, local sociability, job market and use of public space. The aim is to gather reliable information on how the reality and perceptions of diversity affect in positive (or negative) ways the everyday life and social mobility chances of people living in diverse neighbourhoods and belonging to different facets of this diversity.
The main challenge is to investigate whether the ways we theoretically analyse the content and sociopolitical potential of the fast-growing diversity in our cities is commensurable/compatible with what people experience and perceive as a condition and potential of diversity. Recent interpretations of diversity, like our project’s hyperdiversity or Vertovec’s superdiversity, emphasise the multidimensional and complex nature of current diversity patterns that increase the challenge of effective governance arrangements. It will be important to investigate, therefore, whether there is a tangible positive potential in contexts of diversity that can enhance social mobility for people belonging to different parts of this increasing diversity. On the other hand, there is always the question of diversity’s intrinsic relation to social inequality, which inhibits diversity’s positive potential and may often lead to perverted outcomes. Contextual parameters are very important in this case, and locating those in our 14 cities is also a major challenge for this work package.
Conducting the Interviews in Rotterdam
By Anouk Tersteeg (Utrecht University)
In order to achieve good representation of the diverse composition of neighbourhoods, we approach a wide range of potential interviewees. I use three different recruiting strategies in the research area of Feijenoord in Rotterdam. First, I ask local organisations to introduce me to individuals in the neighbourhood. Second, I approach individuals on the streets and in their homes in order to include local residents that are not related to local initiatives I am already studying. Finally, through the use of a so-called ‘snowballing method’ I ask interviewees to suggest other possible interviewees – a local resident who they feel is different from themselves (e.g. in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, and/or lifestyle). At other times, I will ask interviewees to introduce me to a local resident who they have mentioned in their interview. All interviewees sign a consent form prior to the interview and we only talk to adults (aged over 18 years).
Interviews are taped, transcribed then analysed using a qualitative data analysis software called ‘NVivo’. The analysis will roughly exist of four steps. First, we import the interview texts in the programme. Then, we encode the texts for pre-set research subjects, such as residents’ perceptions of urban diversity, social networks, daily activity patterns, and perceptions of (local) governance arrangements. Hereafter, we develop sub-codes for these themes. For example, we encode all the interview fragments in which interviewees discuss their perceptions of urban diversity using three sub-codes: positive, neutral or negative. Finally, we identify relevant relationships between (sub-) codes. We might for instance find that young interviewees have more positive perceptions of diversity than old interviewees. You could compare the process of coding with highlighting a text with different markers.
Interviews in all of our 14 research cities are currently underway and will continue until June 2015.