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1 Joanne Hughes. 2  In a recent study Robert Putnam (2007) found a direct relationship between homogeneity of neighbourhoods and levels of trust  In.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Joanne Hughes. 2  In a recent study Robert Putnam (2007) found a direct relationship between homogeneity of neighbourhoods and levels of trust  In."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Joanne Hughes

2 2  In a recent study Robert Putnam (2007) found a direct relationship between homogeneity of neighbourhoods and levels of trust  In racially diverse areas trust was lower and people were less likely to extend themselves on behalf of others

3 3  People in diverse neighbourhoods tend to: ‘distrust their neighbours, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less....and to huddle unhappily in front of the television’ ‘People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’....that is, to pull in like a turtle’ (Putnam, 2007).

4 4  Putnam uses this observation to challenge two dominant theories on ethnic diversity: the contact theory and conflict theory.  Contact theory argues that the more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups.  Conflict theory argues that, that proximity produces tension and discord.

5 5  In more diverse communities, he says, there were no great bonds formed across ethnic lines, nor were there heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise...  Levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same ethnic group.

6 6 Three mixed areas: 1. Greystone, Limavady; 49% Protestant, 49% Catholic; ranked amongst 10% most deprived wards in NI 2. Dunclug, Ballymena; 46% Protestant, 46% Catholic; ranked just outside the top 10% most deprived wards 3. Rosetta, South Belfast; 58% Catholic, 37% Protestant; ranked 429 out of 890 for multiple deprivation.

7 7  Qualitative approach – 15 semi-structured interviews in each area, accessed though community groups and organisations (snowball sampling)  Age range (majority female)  Issues covered - what it means to be a member of a particular community, extent and quality of inter-group contact; response to the ‘other’ group, social networks.

8 8  Most interviewees had strong intergroup ties  The opportunity for contact presented by the mixed environment was a facilitating variable in the development of relationships  Self disclosure and perspective taking were important processes in the development of inter-group relationships

9 9  I have many friends in here who are Protestant and I can understand how they feel about things – we discuss things, but we don’t fall out over having different views about things (M,P, 70, R).

10 10  When you get comfortable with people after you know them for a while you can start to talk about politics and religion and stuff. It wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about religious beliefs or how you think about things when you meet someone for the first time. I think that as you get to know people you get to know their perceptions of you and your perceptions of them and then you can openly discuss them. Most people are curious about each other. … ..one of the things we could talk about was their view that because I was a Protestant I would be supportive of the Orange Parades’ (F, P, 49, R)

11 11  Strong inter-group ties and positive experiences of the other group had a mitigating effect where people in the mixed environment also had negative or hostile experiences

12 12 To what extent is sectarianism a problem? The highest. I would always be aware of it and try to keep my wits about me. It’s just one of those things, you can’t let your guard down. I don’t feel completely safe. I was chased by a crowd of masked men, apparently they were YUM (Young Ulster Militants) that had come up to the estate from Harryville. But I have Protestant neighbours and they have been brilliant (C,M,23,D)

13 13 Relationships between Protestants and Catholics are sometimes strained. It’s just times like the 12th of July when people are celebrating and the 17th March when we celebrate. Other times we can be the best of friends. It’s never bothered me. I’ve never thought ‘there’s a Protestant – stay away’. My boyfriend and the father of my child is a Protestant. Once you know people, it doesn’t matter. (F, 19, C, G)

14 14  Interviewees in mixed environments offered more nuanced descriptions of both own and other community, seeing neither as a homogenous mass.

15 15  To me there are two types of Protestant and two types of Catholic. Catholics and Protestants who want to get on with their lives and those who are bitter and want to cause trouble (C,23,M, D)  You get hardliners here, you get them everywhere. You will get people who want to live in peace and you get hardliners (F, C, 46, G)

16 16  Because someone is a Catholic it doesn’t mean they are a Republican. We are not loyalists because we are Protestant (M,P, 50s, R)

17 17  Correlation between in-group and out-group differentiation and trust disposition Emerging themes in support of contact theory

18 18  There’s an element on both sides that I wouldn’t trust, but the majority of decent, honest Protestants and Catholics I would trust. The majority of the people in here are Protestant. (M, C, 70, R)

19 19  Perspective taking can lead to own group reassessment Emerging themes in support of contact theory

20 20  At the local Primary school they were having an exhibition to celebrate a big anniversary. My eldest son was at the school and my husband and I went up to see the exhibition. There was a lot of Royal photographs and red, white and blue, I thought. It was really the first time that I ever went into that school and thought of it as a Protestant school, not a State school. It really projected things from one side of the community and not the other.’ (F, P, 49, R)

21 21  Many people expressed ‘other’ group empathy and were able to adopt a more critical and objective understanding of their ‘own’ community as a consequence of inter- group ties

22 22  Catholic people definitely have higher tolerance of other people and races who are different. I feel that Protestant people feel threatened [by other groups] It is not through badness, it is through fear. It is through fear that things change. The fear that they are going to lose a grip on stuff or that somehow life will be awful for them. My heart goes out to them but you have to look back and think how awful it must have been the other way round. (F, P, 46, R)

23 23  There is strong appreciation of difference in the mixed community and of the need to ‘celebrate diversity’

24 24 Everybody in this street would celebrate the twelfth of July. It’s not about religion. It’s just a bit of craic (F,C, 40s, G)

25 25 I don’t think there should be flags up all year. I don’t think there’s any need, it’s to do with sectarianism. Sports wise, certainly, Saint Patrick’s Day, certainly, 12th of July, certainly. Each side has their own fun…but for other times of the year, I don’t think there’s any need. I think it makes people ill at ease and people can’t live properly with it. (M, C, 46, G).

26 26  Consistent with findings on the positive effects of contact, we make a number of observations that seem to challenge Putnam’s hypothesis that diversity equates with to ‘hunkering down’ and low social capital’  We also raise some conceptual questions about what it means to trust in ‘diverse’ situations.

27 27  Diverse communities are not uniformly diverse and there seems to be a class dimension to the degree of mixing

28 28  Well this wee neighbourhood is all I would really be interested in. Just this street but overall the community to me would be different. You hear things are different in other streets but it wouldn’t affect me. We were lucky up here with the part we live in…nothing bad ever happens around here you know. Maybe if you went to the bottom of the estate….but I just like it. At one time every house in this row was mixed marriages…. It was half in half….now it would still be half in half with a lot of mixed marriages. (F, P, 50’s, D) 

29 29  There’ no trouble in this area. I know there would be trouble across he street, but it never comes to this street. This street is mixed but across there it would be Catholic. (C, F, 40s, G)

30 30  Fear and sense of threat in the mixed areas sometimes leads to ‘hunkering down’ –

31 31  Community relations wouldn’t be the best. There’s a divide. I just don’t bother with anybody because I don’t want to get dragged into anybody else’s business. I don’t bother with anybody. I don’t have conversations with anybody on the street. I just basically say hello. I would never stop to have a conversation with anybody about the way things are up the street…I just don’t get into conversations with people. (F,45,P,G)  If the DUP comes to the door handing out pamphlets, my husband worries and thinks, you don’t want to stand out, so he would just take it. It is awful that you have to think that way (F, P,47, R)  Both women are married to Catholics and have many close Catholic friends and family members

32 32  Often ‘hunkering down’ is a temporary response to a threatening situation – some interviewees referred to ‘keeping their heads down’ at volatile times of the year.

33 33  Juxtaposed with some evidence of hunkering down to preserve relations, we found many examples of people willing to extend themselves or take risks on behalf of the other community  Social capital was evident in concerted efforts to tackle manifestations of sectarianism and offensive behaviour

34 34  There’s a neighbourhood watch here...there were posters and stuff up about it. Some people are trying to bring peace up here and they’re putting up posters saying ‘end sectarian attacks’ (female, 17, D)  There’s a wee community things that have started up that will help a lot...at least it should stop the ones drinking on the street. There are football activities now and there’s a basketball court and all...The community centre has done a lot. They have discos and everything for the young ones. (M,P,22, D)  We run an after-school’s club for all the different Catholic and Protestant schools in the area. The Churches get involved with different interfaith activities such as carol services every Christmas. There does seem to be a lot of work with the Churches here (M,C,22, D)

35 35  This would be quite a close-knit community. Last year a number of youths put up Irish flags. Do you see the complaints I got, they were all from Catholics who didn’t want to offend their Protestant neighbours. We have Protestants round here and some of them have lived here longer than us. They have a right to live and they have a right to live in peace. They shouldn’t have to look out of their windows at flags. Believe it or not, that’s what the case was. The Catholic residents wanted the flags down so as not to offend their Protestant neighbours. So between me and my daughter, and another girl we got the flags down. We spoke to the children and got a couple of older ones to help us – people who had grown out of all that carry on. We approached them and thy helped us talk to the children. So we got them taken down. We had to talk and talk. (M,C,46, G)

36 36  Putnam found lower levels of trust in diverse neighbourhoods – we found that trust is a complex concept that cannot easily be understood by an item on a questionnaire that asks people how much they trust other groups. - One woman would trust members of the other community with her child....but not their interpretation of an event!’

37 37  Thinking about your close friends what factors would you consider important in terms of friendship?  Well religion doesn’t figure at all. Things like loyalty and shared interests and something in common. Sense of humour, someone who gets me sense of humour and who’s sense of humour I get. Someone who I trust.  You mentioned trust, do you think you can trust Protestants and Catholics equally?

38 38  To be honest, I’m not sure. I guess there’s probably part of me that trusts Catholics more, either because I know them better or I know their background better. I mean I couldn’t deny that’s true. It’s not a huge part but there is that kind of wee notion that I understand the Catholic better. For instance take a Protestant and a Catholic friend of mine…I kind of understand the Catholic better because I understand, well I feel I understand their experiences more than I understand the Protestant experiences….but it wouldn’t be trust in that I wouldn’t trust their (Protestant friend) advice or I wouldn’t trust them to look after my children. It would be more kind of trust of their interpretation of something. I would probably be more inclined to trust the Catholic version of something over the Protestant version if I had to make a choice. I guess there is always going to be that difference of backgrounds that may become an issue under certain circumstances. But then that is dependant on assuming the Catholic has the same view as you and the Protestant has a different, opposing view to you. But all things being equal, I think I can have an equal friendship with both.

39 39  Our data lend support to the idea that opportunities for sustained and intimate contact afforded by the mixed context have implications for promoting inter-group relations ◦ Perspective taking ◦ Positive relations appear to have a mitigating effect at times of inter-group tension ◦ Evidence of acceptance of and respect for difference ◦ Empathy for other group and more critical approach to own group ◦ More nuanced understanding of own and other group – treating neither as a homogenous mass

40 40  Our data challenge the notion that ‘hunkering down’ is a consequence of social malaise or anomie – mixed areas are not uniformly mixed and hunkering down is often a calculated response to threat  Rather than weak social capital, we found that positive inter-group experience in the mixed context galvanized some to social action that challenged sectarianism and division.

41 41  Residents in the mixed contact were discerning about who they trusted and the contexts – but is this the same as trusting less? Could it be that the apparent diminution of trust in diverse neighbourhoods could also be interpreted as a more nuanced understanding and application of the concept?

42 42 When it comes to the end we have all got the same thing – six feet of earth no matter who we are. It’s a small island and we’re on a small part of the island. We’ve all got to live on it and we’ve got to live together on it. (M, P, 76, R).


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