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Commonplace diversity : social interactions in a super-diverse context

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons38345

Wessendorf,  Susanne
Socio-Cultural Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Wessendorf, S. (2011). Commonplace diversity: social interactions in a super-diverse context. Talk presented at Annual Conference of the Centre on Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Migration (CRONEM). University of Surrey. 2011-06-28 - 2011-06-29.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000F-4D6E-6
Abstract
The London Borough of Hackney is one of the most diverse places in the world. It is not only characterised by a multiplicity of ethnic minorities, but also differentiations in terms of variables such as migration histories, religions, educational and economic backgrounds both among long-term residents and newcomers. This paper attempts to describe different types of social relations in such a ’super-diverse’ context and aims to identify patterns of social relations which cross categorical boundaries such as ethnicity, class or religion. The paper describes a phenomenon conceptualised as ‘commonplace diversity’, referring to ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity being experienced as a normal part of social life by local residents, and not as something particularly special. Closely related to commonplace diversity are intercultural skills which are needed to facilitate everyday social interactions. These competences are described as ‘corner-shop cosmopolitanism’, referring to the everyday nature of such skills and the existence of a certain openness towards people perceived as ‘different’. Furthermore, the paper discusses the limits of corner-shop cosmopolitanism. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, the paper shows how despite the existence of intercultural skills and commonplace diversity, many people continue to lead ’parallel lives’ when it comes to private relations.