Encountering and Living with Hyper-Diversity: Young People’s Urban Experiences
Utrecht, the Netherlands, 5-6 November 2015


Urban Diversity and Young People

Cities are by definition places of diversity. They are stratified along multiple lines of difference: class; ethnicity; religion; age; and more. Arguably, cities in Western Europe have become more diverse than ever thanks to successive waves of immigration. Vertovec (2007) has theorised Western cities as cities of super-diversity, referring specifically to their increasing ethnic diversity and to the demographic and socioeconomic diversity between and within these ethnic groups. Recently, Tasan-Kok et al. (2014) have made the argument to look beyond super-diversity. They talk about cities of hyper-diversity. With this term they indicate that cities are not only diverse in ethnic, demographic and socio­economic terms, but that also many differences exist with respect to attitudes, lifestyles and activities. Individuals within the same demo­graphic or ethnic group may show quite different attitudes, for example, with respect to school, work and parenting. They may have very different daily routines. Some may be locally oriented (i.e. in the neigh­bour­hood), while others have their activities and friends spread all over the city. Critically, one’s status in terms of traditional identity categories (e.g. ‘immigrant’ or ‘native’) may not be a predictor of one’s daily inter­actions within city spaces.

Most of the empirical work on the diversity of urban spaces focuses on adults (e.g. Wessendorf 2014). This reflects a longstanding tendency within the social sciences to marginalise children and young people within urban studies scholarship. As Skelton and Gough (2013) note, this is deeply problematic for several reasons:

1. Children and young people are one of the largest population groups in any city;

2. Children and young people have repeatedly been shown to be the social group who spend most time using urban spaces, and tend to have far more nuanced knowledge of local urban environments than do adults;

3. Children and young people may be more readily shaped by their immediate social environments than adults, since their spatial range is more limited than that of adults;

4. If social scientists are truly to understand urban (hyper-)diversity then attention to how children and young people live and grow up with (hyper-)diversity must be a pressing concern for urban research (see also Valentine, 2008).

Several studies show that it is often younger people who are more at ease with cultural diversity than older people (Hoerder et al. 2005). Young people interact more with other ethnic groups on a daily basis, for example in schools, youth or sport clubs or neighbourhood settings, than their parents. It is therefore important to attend to the ‘ordinary’ social spaces within which people of different backgrounds encounter one another (Semi et al. 2008).

Aims of the seminar

The seminar has four aims:

1. To provide insight into young people’s everyday, embodied and emotional experiences of (hyper-) diversity;

2. To analyse and interpret the entanglement of young people’s on- and offline (material and immaterial) experiences of (hyper-)diversity;

3. To analyse how perceptions and practices of (hyper-)diversity are related to young people’s senses of in- or exclusion in and from society on different spatial scales (national, local, neighbourhood); and

4. To find out how young people’s perceptions and experiences of (hyper-)diversity are patterned across different European contexts.

We are interested in papers on attitudes, experiences, perceptions and behaviour (e.g. where do young people have their social contacts?). Also we have a specific interest in papers that focus on inequality issues: which groups have more opportunities than others (and why)? All papers should be on the link between urban diversity and young people’s life.

Click here for information on the Call for Papers.

Nature of the event

We will organise a 2-day intensive seminar hosted by Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The seminar will cover theoretical discussions on hyper-diversity and young people’s experiences and empirical studies on these issues in cities. Three keynote speakers (Prof. Gill Valentine, University of Sheffield; Prof. Peter Hopkins, Newcastle University and Prof. Sirpa Tani, University of Helsinki) will present papers on crucial theoretical issues, other participants will present theoretical papers and empirical studies on specific city regions. From Utrecht we will be able to cover local costs (3 nights hotel, two dinners and lunches and drinks during the seminar) for participants who have finished their draft paper on time. Travel costs have to be paid by the participants themselves.


The seminar will feature around 20 papers discussing both theoretical issues and empirical studies. Based on quality and content, we will make a selection from these papers to compile one or two publications. In view of the proposal team’s record in developing sets of workshop papers into journal and book publications, and the academic status of the workshop participants, we are confident that these publications will be of the highest quality. We aim to complete the final versions of these publications within one year after the seminar.


The seminar will take place at Utrecht University on 5 and 6 November 2015.  Critical dates are as follows:

15 May 2015 • Deadline abstracts
End May 2015 • Selection of abstracts
20 October 2015 • Deadline draft papers
5 to 6 November 2015 • Seminar
December 2015 • Selection of papers for publication
March 2016 • Second draft of papers
April 2016 • Suggestions for improvement to authors
June 2016 • Final drafts of papers
June-August 2016 • Review procedure
November 2016 • Final papers completed

Preliminary Program

Wednesday 4 November 2015
Welcome reception and walk-in dinner

Thursday 5 November 2015

09:00 – 09:15 • Coffee and tea
09:15 – 10:00 • Welcome and introduction by the organisers
10:00 – 10:45 • Keynote address I: Prof. Gill Valentine
10:45 – 11:00 • Break
11:00 – 12:30 • Paper session (3 papers)
12:30 – 13:30 • Lunch
13:30 – 15:30 • Paper session (4 papers)
15:30 – 16:00 • Break
16:00 – 17:00 • Keynote address II: Prof. Peter Hopkins
17:00 – 18:00 • Free time
18:00 – 21:00 • Drinks and dinner

Friday 6 November 2015

09:00 – 09:30 • Coffee and tea
09:30 – 11:00 • Paper session (3 papers)
11:00 – 11:15 • Break
11:15 – 12:45 • Paper session (3 papers)
12:30 – 13:30 • Lunch
13:30 – 14:30 • Keynote address III: Prof. Sirpa Tani
14:30 – 16:00 • Paper session (3 papers)
16:00 – 17:00 • Discussion about further plans
17:00 – 18:00 • Free time
18:00 – 21:00 • Drinks and dinner


Prof. Ronald van Kempen, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Planning

Prof. Peter Kraftl, University of Leicester, Department of Geography

Dr. Gideon Bolt, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Planning

Brief Organiser Biographies

Ronald van Kempen (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) is a Professor of Urban Geography. His research focuses on urban spatial segregation, urban diversity, housing for low-income groups, urban governance and its effects on neighbourhoods and residents, social exclusion, and minority ethnic groups. He has coordinated several large projects, e.g. the EU 5th-Framework RESTATE project (the comparison and future of 29 post-WWII housing estates in ten European countries). At present he is the PI of the EU-FP7 project DIVERCITIES (Governing Urban Diversity). The principal aim of DIVERCITIES is to examine how European cities can benefit from diversity. The project’s central hypothesis is that urban diversity is an asset. Van Kempen has co-edited books and special issues of international scientific journals. He has published over 200 reports and articles, most of them in international social and urban geography journals. Van Kempen has ample experience in editing books (with Blackwell, Ashgate, Palgrave, and Oxford University Press) and special issues of international scientific journals (Housing Studies; Housing, Theory and Society; Cities; Journal of Housing and the Built Environment; Journal of Economic and Social Geography (TESG), Urban Geography). Some of his recent publications:

Van Kempen, R. and B. Wissink (2014), Between places and flows: towards a new agenda for neighbourhood research in an age of mobility. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 96 (2), 95-108.

Visser, K., G. Bolt and R. van Kempen (2014), ‘Come and live here and you’ll experience it’: Youths talk about their deprived neighbourhood. Journal of Youth Studies, 18 (1), 36-52.

Visser, K., G. Bolt and R. van Kempen (2014), Out of place? The effects of demolition on youths’ social contacts and leisure activities. A case study in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Urban Studies, 51 (1), 203-219.

Van Kempen, R. & A. Murie (2009), The new divided city: changing patterns in European cities. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie, 100 (4), 377-398.

Van Kempen, R., B. Wissink, Y. Fang & S. Li (eds.) (2012), Living in Chinese enclave cities. Urban Geography, 33 (2), 161-294.

Peter Kraftl (University of Leicester, UK) is a Professor of Human Geography. His research focuses on children’s geographies and geographies of education. He is the author of four books, forty peer-reviewed journal articles, and numerous book chapters. He has held over £1.3 million of research funding from major funders, including ESRC, AHRC and HEFCE. He is Editor of two internationally-renowned scholarly journals – Area and Children’s Geographies. His work has many societal impacts – from supporting the development of local communities and children’s participation, to influencing local and national policy-making. Some of his recent publications:

Kraftl, P. (2013), Geographies of Alternative Education: Diverse Learning Spaces for Children and Young People. Bristol: Policy Press.

Kraftl, P. (2013), Beyond ‘voice’, beyond ‘agency’, beyond ‘politics’? Hybrid childhoods and some critical reflections on children’s emotional geographies. Emotion, Space and Society, 9, 13-23.

Kraftl, P. (2012), Utopian promise or burdensome responsibility? A critical analysis of the UK Government’s Building Schools for the Future Policy. Antipode, 44, 847-870.

Horton, J. and Kraftl, P. (2008), Reflections on geographies of age. Area, 40, 284-288.

Kraftl, P. and Adey, P. (2008), Architecture/affect/dwelling. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 98, 213-231.

Gideon Bolt (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) is an Assistant Professor of Urban Geography and Methods & Techniques at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His research focuses on urban policy, social cohesion, residential segregation and neighbourhood choice. Bolt is one of the coordinators of the working group Housing and Minority Ethnic Groups of the European Network for Housing Research (ENHR). He is an editor of the Journal of Housing and the Built Environment and Tijdschrift voor de Volkshuisvesting (Housing Sector Journal). He is member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the FP7 project DIVERCITIES. Some of his recent publications:

Kleinhans, R.J. & G. Bolt (2014), More than just fear: on the intricate interplay between perceived neighborhood disorder, collective efficacy and action. Journal of Urban Affairs, 36 (3), 420-446.

Heringa, A., Bolt, G., Dijst, M. & R. van Kempen (2014), Individual activity patterns and the meaning of residential environments for inter-ethnic contact. Tijdschrift voor Economische Sociale Geografie, 105 (1), 64-78.

Permentier, M., Bolt, G. & M. van Ham (2011), Determinants of neighbourhood satisfaction and perception of neighbourhood reputation. Urban Studies, 48 (5), 977-996.

Bolt, G. (2009), Combating residential segregation of ethnic minorities in European cities. Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 24 (4), 397-405.

Permentier, M., Van Ham, M. & G. Bolt (2009), Neighbourhood reputation and the intention to leave the neighbourhood. Environment and Planning A, 41 (9), 2162-2180.