Authors: Heike Hanhoerster*, ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: diversity, neighborhood, social cohesion, Germany
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
During the last years, the city of Dortmund/Germany has been increasingly shaped by (forced) migration accelerating the city’s social and ethnic diversification. The neighborhood of Nordstadt in Dortmund has traditionally been a first entry point for migrants coming to the city. Diversified patterns of immigration and high fluctuation rates in combination with comparatively high shares of poverty challenge the neighborhoods´ social cohesion. The question arises, how local groups cope with the increasing diversity and which ethnic and social boundaries shape the inhabitants’ narratives and daily interactions. Our presentation is based on 40 qualitative interviews with social welfare recipients (both with and without migration background) living in the neighborhood. We asked our respondents about their everyday experiences of social and spatial change. The interviewees’ narratives clearly illustrate their discontent with and their concerns of the influx of new migrants, especially with people from Romania and Bulgaria. As a reaction to their strong visibility in public spaces and their behavior being predominantly described as “deviant”, some parts of the neighborhood are increasingly avoided by our interviewees. However, we were intrigued by the finding that apart from the narratives about outsiders being perceived as a threat, our interviewees developed a quite pragmatic way to deal with diversity. The interviews point at the immediate living environment as a setting where group-crossing similarities can emerge and potentially lead to new forms of solidarity which help to cope with everyday life.