Seminarios del IPP: "Social Diversity and Social Cohesion in Britain"

ipp010622.jpgSala María Zambrano 0C9

Por Tak Wing Chang (UCL) 

Abstract: An influential set of scholars have argued that high level of immigration and the resulting social diversity (especially ethnic diversity) would undermine trust and social cohesion.  For example,Robert Putnam (2007) uses survey data from the US and argue that `immigration and ethnic diversity tend to reduce social solidarity and social capital'.  Indeed, he suggests that `in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods residents of all races tend to``hunker down''. Trust (even of one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer.'  Similarly, Alberto Alesina and his colleagues argue that racial/ethnic diversity is associated with lower level of public goods spending (Alesina et al,1999) and lower level of social involvement (Alesina and La Ferrara, 2000).  Indeed, they argue that racial fragmentation and the associated rhetoric explains why the US does not have an European-style welfare state (Alesina et al, 2001).  In this paper, we use Understanding Society data to examine the association between social diversity and social cohesion.  We measure social diversity in a number of way, including indices of ethnic and religious fractionalisation, and the percentages of migrants and muslims in local communities.  As regards social cohesion, we consider trust, two neighbourhood cohesion indices, volunteering, and donations to charity.  Using multilevel models, we show that higher level of diversity is associated with lower level of social cohesion, thus confirming the Putnam's hunkering down hypothesis.  But these negative associations disappear (some even turn positive) once neighbourhood deprivation is taken into account.  Given this evidence, we argue that it is deprivation, not social diversity, that harms social cohesion.

Tak Wing Chan is a Professor of Quantitative Social Sciences at UCL Social Research Institute.  His main research interests are social stratification and mobility, cultural consumption, and family and the life course.

Organiza: IPP-CSIC

Coordina: Francisco Herreros (IPP-CSIC)

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