Civil society and new migrants in superdiverse contexts

Researcher:Dr Susanne Wessendorf

Date(s): 2014-2017

This project aims to investigate the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) for new migrants in superdiverse contexts. It explores whether CSOs are instrumental in the building of social relations during new migrants’ settlement process. This social aspect of the settlement process, also described as social integration, is crucial regarding other aspects of settlement such as access to education, housing and the labour market.

Rather than focussing on established ethnic minorities, the project investigates patterns of settlement of people originating from relatively new source countries who arrive in already superdiverse contexts. The project also looks at the role of CSOs regarding the relationships which long-term residents, both of ethnic majority and minority backgrounds, form with newcomers. It will compare two superdiverse urban neighbourhoods, the London Borough of Hackney and Handsworth in Birmingham.

The project is situated within an emerging research field on new conditions of superdiversity which have rarely been explored systematically and from a comparative perspective. What do recent migrants from relatively new source countries do when they arrive in such superdiverse contexts? And how do long-term residents deal with unprecedented and accelerated population changes on the local level? What is the role of CSOs in this process? By going beyond existing quantitative work on civil society participation (e.g. Putnam 2007) and putting migrants’ and long-term residents’ points of view in its centre, the project will develop theory around social contact, social capital and integration, nuancing current thinking around the role of CSOs in settlement.

Donor: European Commission (Marie Curie IEF Programme)