ECSR Workshop: The dynamics of neighbourhood segregation

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What makes neighbourhood ethnic concentration, and the link between this and neighbourhood deprivation, persist over time and over generations?

While the literature considering the consequences of ethnic and socioeconomic segregation and that evaluating the size and scale of these phenomena is vast, there is a more limited understanding of the drivers and reasons behind the persistence of ethnic minority concentration and of its association over time with spatially concentrated deprivation. This is especially the case in the European context.

This workshop, organised in the framework of the European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR), brings together scholars working in the intersection of migration and ethnic studies, on the one hand, and urban studies, on the other hand, to discuss the dynamics behind ethnic and socioeconomic segregation.



Morning: closed workshop – upon invitation only.

Afternoon, from 14:30 to 16:30: Plenary session open to anyone interested, upon registration.

Welcome by Carolina V. Zuccotti (MPC, EUI) and Professor Fabrizio Bernardi (EUI/ECSR).

Keynote lectures by Professor Maarten van Ham (TU Delf) and University Lecturer Julien-Randon-Furling (Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)


Download the full programme

Vicious circles of segregation over the life course and generations, by Maarten van Ham

In many large cities, socio-economic segregation is increasing; rich and poor are increasingly living separated in different neighbourhoods. The rich live more concentrated than the poor because they can afford to buy houses in the best neighbourhoods. We developed a multi-level conceptual model of segregation, by using three conceptual levels – individuals and households, generations, and urban regions. Different socio-economic groups sort into different types of neighbourhoods and other domains, leading to patterns of segregation at the urban regional level. At the same time exposure to different socio-economic contexts also affects individual outcomes, and this subsequently leads to sorting processes into neighbourhoods and other domains. This vicious circle of sorting and contextual effects continuously crosses the three levels, and leads to higher levels of segregation. The talk is structured around seven new approaches in segregation research which lead to the conceptual model of the vicious circles. We end with a discussion of several intervention strategies that focus on breaking the vicious circles to improve cities as places of opportunities by investing in people, in places and in transport.

The distorted city — Capturing the complexity of perceived segregation, by Julien Randon-Furling (co-authored with William Clark and Madalina Olteanu)

For a city to work at its full capacity as a complex social system, it should integrate people rather than segregate them. While this is widely recognized and while cities across the world have arguably become more multicultural, local authorities continue to be faced with the challenges of social and ethnic segregation. A major hurdle is the inability of existing methods to provide relevant and accurate information on segregation phenomena as they may be perceived in actuality. Common measures of segregation tend to measure differences between local concentrations of different groups. But this is only one aspect of how segregation is perceived – and this aspect may in fact not even be perceived as segregation: it may be the case that people prefer to live in areas where their own group is well represented, but still they do not want to feel cut off from the city as a whole. This feeling of being “cut off” is what we term as perceived segregation. This is what common measures of segregation fail to capture, and what the new method that we propose renders both measurable and visualizable. This is made possible by integrating multigroup information across all scales and taking as a reference point theoretical maximally segregated configurations, leading to maps showing how the perception of the city is distorted and how this distortion varies across space. This new framework provides a robust and powerful tool for the comparative empirical analysis of urban segregation, at different times and in different places. The presentation introduces the method in a “non-technical” manner, and presents examples of: ethnic mixing in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, social housing in Paris, foreign-born communities in four European cities (Paris, Madrid, Rome, Berlin).


Organization and funding: Migration Policy Centre, RSCAS, EUI, in partnership with the European Consortium for Sociological Research (ECSR) and the London School of Economics and Political Science.