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Welcome to the fifth newsletter of DIVERCITIES! Launched in March 2013, DIVERCITIES brings together 14 accomplished partners to collaborate on a four-year research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The main objective of DIVERCITIES is to examine how diversity can foster social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in European cities.

Leading Work Package 6 (WP6):
Fieldwork Inhabitants


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.

(Hyper)diversity and Social Cohesion

DIVERCITIES Scientific Steering Committee member Gideon Bolt presented “(Hyper)diversity and Social Cohesion” at the 4th CityNetworkCongress: CommUnityCohesion & Diversity in Berlin. The event was organised by vhw – Bundesverband für Wohnen und Stadtentwicklung e. V. and held on 18-19 September 2014.

The aim of the congress was to discuss the various means available to revive social cohesion in European cities. In particular, how diversity can be used to its full advantage in urban policy in order to improve the inclusion of minorities and promote citizen participation.

Gideon Bolt spoke about the challenges of diverse societies and cited examples of various projects in Rotterdam aimed at improving social cohesion (e.g. Do-it-yourself houses, Experimental garden of Feijenoord, Spectacle at the Cape and H.E.L.D.E.R.H.E.I.D.).

© vhw e.V.

Diversity, Tolerance and Social Capital

DIVERCITIES researcher Ewa Karolina Korcelli-Olejniczak presented “Diversity, Tolerance and Social Capital: Example of Diversity Policy in Warsaw” at the IGU pre-conference workshop on 16-17 August 2014. The event was organised by the IGU Commission of Gender & Geography and held at Warsaw University.

The presentation argued that there are contradictory findings regarding the relationship between diversity, tolerance and social solidarity. In general, it can be assumed that diversity policy has a geographical, as well as a cultural component. The content of this policy also depends on the intensity of diversity-related issues, and the quality of social capital. In this context, the following questions were posed. First, whether urban policy, or specifically the policy related to issues of gender recognises diversity as a positive or even a desirable phenomenon. Second, what kind of diversity policy is socially and politically acceptable. Answers to these questions were explored within an analysis of an evolving diversity policy in Warsaw, the specificity of which is preconditioned historically, geographically and culturally.

5th Urban and Regional Research Network Symposium

DIVERCITIES Scientific Steering Committee member Tuna Taşan-Kok delivered the keynote speech at the 5th Urban and Regional Research Network Symposium in Ankara, Turkey on 16 October 2014.

This year’s theme “Urban Diversity: Discussions, Policies, Spatial Planning and Practices” explored the concept of rapidly changing identities in contemporary cities and how a growing number of studies argue that cities which have a variety of identities, skills, cultural background and social structure are more successful in the global economy. In other words, socio-economic, ethnic and cultural diversity is considered as a value to be promoted rather than to be hindered.

Exploring these concepts within the context of Turkey, symposium speakers and participants raised questions about the definition of diversity, the strategies adopted by decision-makers towards urban diversity, and how existing urban plans and processes respond to the expectations of groups with different identities, values and lifestyles in contemporary Turkish cities.

DIVERCITIES researchers Ayda Eraydin and Özge Yersen also delivered presentations on the latest findings from their DIVERCITIES research in Istanbul. Ayda Eraydin is one of the founders of the KBAM Urban and Regional Research Network and was involved in coordinating this year’s symposium.

New Publications Online

Governance Arrangements and Initiatives: Utilising Urban Diversity to Create Positive Outcomes
Analysis of local governance arrangements and initiatives that use diversity in a positive way to improve the social and economic conditions for residents.

Urban Policies on Diversity
Critical analysis of existing urban policy programmes and discourses in our 14 case study cities.

The Growing Socio-Spatial Divide in Western Nations: Urban Impacts of Rising Income Inequality & Polarization
Video Masterclass with David Hulchanski speaking about the internal division of western cities on the basis of socio-economic and ethno-cultural status.


Project Coordinator:
Prof. Ronald van Kempen
Utrecht University
Faculty of Geosciences
P.O. Box 80.115
3508 TC Utrecht


Consortium Partners & Advisory Board

Consortium Partners:
University of Antwerp, Belgium
Aalborg University, Denmark
University of Tartu, Estonia
University Paris-Est Créteil, France
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany
National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), Greece
Szeged University, Hungary
University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Netherlands
Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland
synergo Mobilität-Politik-Raum GmbH, Switzerland
Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey
University College London, United Kingdom

Advisory Board:
Jan Vranken, University of Antwerp, Belgium
David Hulchanski, University of Toronto, Canada

© DIVERCITIES, Utrecht University, 2014
LEGAL NOTICE: The views expressed in this newsletter are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.
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