Research on diversity: some research gaps found

Some of the research gaps found are:

  • How is “the other” constructed? Impact of particular constructions of “the other” on identity building groups and individuals and on their sense of belonging.
  • The impact of space and place on the process of identity building. How identities are build through intersections of multiple dimensions and how is identity politics related to the complexity of the individual lived life.
  • The multidimensional and multiscalar nature of diversity.
  • Relation of individual life courses of diversity with social inclusion.
  • Policy research: comparison of rhetoric with policy practices; target group or general policy, which is more effective?

Previous research findings

Research projects carried out up to date have given insight on:

  • Pathways to social exclusion for immigrants in different types of cities.
  • Migration processes.
  • Immigrants and integration.
  • Access to, quality and affordability of housing for migrants, and its impact on migrants’ integration. Research has shown the important role of housing systems in safeguarding social cohesion.

All these research findings point to the fact that redistribution reduces segregation.

EU research projects on diversity, identity and social cohesion

Some EU-funded research projects have focused on social exclusion (its spatial patterns, dynamics causing it) and integration issues, examined in various contexts and especially related to immigrants and ethnic minorities:

Other 6th Framework Programme projects (LOCALMULTIDEM, KATARSIS, TRESEGY, SUS.DIV) were related to diversity, identity and social cohesion.

The 7th Framework Programme project EURISLAM examined the relation between:

Public and academic debates and their weaknesses

Main debates and conceptions of inclusion and integration of migrants in the 20th century in Europe:

It is important to understand that changes in political and social contexts  changes in attitudes towards newcomers.

1945-80s Early 90s Late 90s
– Political commitment to democracy
– Impulse to think inclusively
– Concentration on cultural diversity for the integration of migrants
– Cultural difference is not equally understood across Europe
– The leading principle on integration is citizenship
– Focus on the active citizenship of ethnic minorities
– ‘New realism’: ethnic minorities are expected to learn the language and adopt norms and values of the society.
–  Integration understood as a question of identity.

Diversity defined as ethnicity

  • Narrow definitions of diversity and identity; limited to ethnicity.
  • Aspects such as socioeconomic background, gender, age, language… are NOT CONSIDERED.

Stigmatising cultural dichotomies

  • Cultural diversity is approached negatively, not as an opportunity.
  • Two views on immigration:
    • As a long-term process where people find their way
    • Immigration as a problem. Negative relationship between city, immigration and integration

Negative approach to cultural diversity

  • Danger of using cultural dichotomies for social cohesion.
  • The construction of difference may stigmatise a whole group for ages.

Political climate changes

There is a change of relations between local people and migrants:

Demographic changes

In the past decades in Europe there have been demographic changes. The main ones are increasing migration rates, an ageing population and a decreasing population growth.


New challenges for European politicians and policy-makers due to the demographic, social and cultural diversity.

Ageing and decreasing population growth

Ethnic and cultural diversity in neighbourhoods


Projects linking migration, ethnic diversity and neighbourhood: 

Read more about these projects: LIMITS, RESTATE.

Read about ethnic and cultural diversity in neighbourhoods in Eastern European cities.