Seedcorn funded research

The Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) offered seedcorn funding to support researchers from across the University to undertake some research, produce a publication or prepare a research proposal in the field of superdiversity.

The following were the successful projects.

Dr Abi Merriel & Professor Arri Coomarasamy, School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and Dr Michael Larkin, School of Psychology

Understanding the superdiversity within the Malawian maternity system: an interpretative phenomenological analysis

This seedcorn grant will enable superdiversity to be considered within the context of Malawian maternity care workers, possibly for the first time. Superdiversity is a key issue in healthcare due to the nature of our global healthcare workforce. Staff originate from a variety of backgrounds and move within and between countries and this is no different in the lowest income countries, like Malawi.

In Malawi, there is a shortage of healthcare workers, who are under pressure to provide the services their patients need. Their small and fragmented workforce is made up of people from different backgrounds, who have lived and trained in different countries and who may have different motivations. These complex and interacting levels of diversity contribute to a workforce made up of a rich tapestry of experiences, backgrounds and skills. Understanding and documenting these different layers of diversity will allow the key role that superdiversity plays in maternity care in Malawi to be explored. This may be an early step towards celebrating superdiversity and learning how to support the challenges it brings in this low-income setting.

This study will look to investigate these experiences of maternity care workers in the district healthcare system using interpretative phenomenological analysis of individual interviews.

Dr Caroline Tagg and Dr Esther Asprey, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics

Messaging in the Midlands: dialect and diversity as resources for creating digital intimacy and trust

This project seeks to explain regional linguistic diversity through the lens of superdiversity. In particular, it explores how people pick up and exploit a variety of locally-available resources and identity markers within private digital exchanges. The project extends the concept of superdiversity in three ways:

  • Firstly, by its application to private rather than parochial exchanges, in order to explore the contention that it is here that prejudices and privately-held beliefs may find expression and to understand how people draw on widely-available resources in voicing identities and establishing intimate relationships.
  • Secondly, by using superdiversity to explain white working-class practices alongside ethnic minority groups, thus providing a holistic analysis of the region's language practices and including a group not typically included in superdiversity research.
  • Thirdly, by using corpus linguistics methods alongside ethnographic principles in order to explore the potential of corpus as a tool for superdiversity researchers.

The project also represents an innovation within traditional dialect variation studies.

Follow the latest Blog posts on the TLANG project

Dr Dietmar Heinke & Dr Beth Grunfeld , School of Psychology

Development of an agent based model of help-seeking for symptoms of breast cancer across (super)diverse samples

There is strong evidence that delayed help-seeking is associated with poorer mortality outcomes across multiple health conditions. The majority of help-seeking research has focussed on Caucasian samples with minority ethnic groups being strikingly under-represented. However, we know that help-seeking for symptoms of illness is complex and driven by a range of cognitive, emotional, social and cultural factors. Current research does not capture this complexity. The optimal help-seeking study would follow a large population cohort for an extended period and document the help-seeking process. However, this type of study is not feasible with regard to sample size or funding. Therefore, the project aims to develop an agent-based model (ABM) of the help-seeking process focusing on breast symptoms. This approach offers the potential to model responses over longer periods than is feasible through observational studies. The present study will be a proof of principle study utilizing existing datasets.

We also expect that ABMs will have wider applications within the area of superdiversity. This study can provide an initial test of the suitability of this approach.

Diana Castaneda Gameros and Professor Janice Lee Thompson, School of Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Sciences

Nutrition and Physical Activity behaviours in migrant older women

Our understanding of nutrition and physical activity (PA) behaviours of migrant older women living in superdiverse communities is severely limited due to a paucity of research in these populations. Although it has been recognised that the health of migrants deteriorates after migrating, existing research predominantly focuses on young individuals. Since the population in Britain will continue to age and will continue to become more ethnically diverse, there is a call for health professionals and policy makers to fully understand and adopt a broader perspective of health-related behaviours in order to promote healthy ageing among ethnically-diverse women. The ongoing mixed-methods study seeks to enhance our understanding of the influence of age-related factors on current nutrition and PA behaviours in migrant older women ageing in a superdiverse city. Findings from this research will help to target appropriate strategies to promote healthy ageing among this population. The seedcorn funding will support a workshop involving a multi-disciplinary group of academic and non-academic stakeholders with the purpose of critically examining existing methods, theories and approaches to assess nutrition and PA behaviours in ethnically-diverse populations with the purpose of developing a journal paper that reviews current gaps and provides recommendations for addressing these gaps.

Kamran Khan, School of Education

Language Securitization

The IRiS seedcorn fund allowed me develop an idea about notions of security and language. I am interested in how ‘threats’ are constructed in discourses of migration and language proficiency. For this reason, I draw upon conceptual frameworks from security studies such as what can be defined as security, the work of security professionals and border control.

Language testing plays a key role in functioning as a gate keeping mechanism and in maintaining security. The sociopolitical climate in which test for immigrants can demonstrate how tests may be used to determine who can enter and who cannot and who can belong and who can not. Over the last decade a tougher political discourse towards immigration has been accompanied by more demanding requirements. For example, initially the ‘Life in the UK’ test was a requirement for citizenship. Since the LUK test was introduced in 2005, it has been redesigned three times and is also required for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Furthermore, in 2013 evidence of speaking and listening has been required.

The IRiS seedcorn fund allowed me the opportunity to develop my work and to present it to other academics within the INCOLAS consortium which brings together universities who are working within superdiversity.

Dr Brídín Carroll and Dr Arshad Isakjee, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Halal food consumers in Birmingham: exploring contested understandings and values in a superdiverse population

Superdiverse spaces and societies challenge old certainties of singular identity labels such as ‘Asian’ or ‘Muslim’. Consequently, our understanding of the diversity of cultural and religious practice needs to develop to reflect the vast societal changes brought about by superdiversity. It is within this context that the proposed project seeks to address a major gap in knowledge around halal food for Muslims. Specifically, there are gaps in understanding the ways in which heterogeneous Muslim consumers might make choices and judgements with regard to the acceptability of the food they eat.

In an effort to make an impact in this area, this study involves research with Muslim consumers in Birmingham, an archetypical superdiverse city. As the emphasis is on understanding the breadth of interpretations from Birmingham’s superdiverse Muslim communities, a maximum variation sampling strategy is deployed. This involves interviewing twelve Muslims, each from different ages, and ethnic and national backgrounds, in order to achieve as broad a sample as possible. The results will then allow the researchers to observe some of the interplays of relevant religious, social, political and cultural forces which shape the perception and consumption patterns of Muslims in relation to halal produce, paving the way for future in-depth studies.