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Title: Does ethnic diversity pose a threat to social cohesion? : an investigation into the relationship between diversity, social capital and inter-ethnic relations in the UK communities
Author: Laurence, James
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Abstract:
The claim that 'ethnic diversity poses a threat to social cohesion' has become almost ubiquitous in the political discourse of race and immigration 'i"the UK. This claim has emerged alongside (and later drawn from) a growing body of academic research which suggests greater ethnic diversity is associated with lower levels of 'social capital' and' social trust'. This thesis examines the validity of this politically-sensitive statement by investigating four previously unexplored avenues of enquiry. This includes: (1) a dual-analysis of the effect of ethnic diversity on local 'social capital' and community 'inter-ethnic relations'; (2) an analysis into the mechanisms which account for the effect of community diversity on 'social cohesion'; (3) an investigation into the (neglected) role of segregation in the current diversity/'social cohesion' debate; and (4) a test of the causal assumptions regarding the effect of diversity, implicit in the current empirical research. Through the application of multi- level cross-sectional and panel-data modelling techniques, this thesis demonstrates that increasing ethnic diversity can undermine 'social cohesion'; however, on the whole, it is only in specific communities and amongst specific individuals. We show that neighbourhood diversity only undermines attitudes such as 'neighbour trust', and levels of 'weak-tie social connectivity', in more segregated wider- communities. Identically diverse neighbourhoods, nested within integrated wider- communities, exhibit just as much 'neighbourliness' and 'weak-tie connectivity' as homogeneous neighbourhoods. We also reveal that diversity's effect on community 'inter-ethnic relations' is substantially moderated by both: (1) the level of community disadvantage, and (2) whether an individual possesses 'bridging' ties or not. We find it is only individuals in disadvantaged communities who do not possess 'bridging' ties that report greater community 'inter-ethnic tensions' with increasing diversity. Whilst some important differences exist in how these relationships apply to 'majority' and 'minority' ethnic populations, the striking similarities in the effect of diversity on both groups far out-weighs the differences. Yet, whilst demonstrating that the effect of diversity is highly context-specific, we observe that increasing socio-economic disadvantage directly undermines both 'neighbourliness' and community 'inter-ethnic relations'. Furthermore, the pejorative effect of disadvantage is (for the most part) unrelated to either the 'quantity' or 'quality' of 'social connectivity'. We conclude by suggesting that policy initiatives need to be refocused to address the much more detrimental and pervasive effects of disadvantage for' social cohesion' in the UK. APPROXIMATE WORD COUNT: 99,500
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.572605  DOI: Not available
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