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Building Better Communities in Areas of New Migration Dr Deborah Phillips Universities of Oxford and Leeds.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Better Communities in Areas of New Migration Dr Deborah Phillips Universities of Oxford and Leeds."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Better Communities in Areas of New Migration Dr Deborah Phillips Universities of Oxford and Leeds

2 Project aims to explore the impact of new migration on community relations in ethnically diverse inner Bradford to assess the effectiveness of community forums on local issues for building bridges between new and settled groups Research team: Bal Athwal, Malcolm Harrison (University of Leeds) Nadia Bashir, David Robinson (Sheffield Hallam) Judith Atkinson (Incommunities, Bradford)

3 A8 migrant numbers Workers Registration Statistics A8 migration and settlement in Bradford A8 migrant settlement coincides with areas of high deprivation and Asian cultural spaces

4 Structure of talk Bridge building and social contact theory Research project – approach to research Findings Wider implications

5 Bridge building and social contact theory decade of projects implemented under the community cohesion agenda e.g. Amas & Crosland (2006); Commission on Integration and Cohesion (2007) social contact hypothesis - originates in the socio-psychology and conflict reconciliation literature cf. Allport 1954; Pettigrew and Tropp 2006; Hewstone et al. 2002; Ross 2000 key idea - under the right conditions, social contact can reduce prejudice and encourage positive social interactions between strangers conditions: equal status between groups, structured settings, perception of common goals Myles Hewstone (2009) reviews experimental data to argue that social contact works

6 Contact theory and neighbour relations – a critique the results of bringing strangers together are unpredictable – differences may be reinforced contact theory assumes that prejudice is rooted in ignorance, and that this can be overcome by contact real or perceived social inequalities may hamper bridge building casual encounters between groups may not have sustained effects BUT… there may be greater potential for bridge building through formal, structured encounters dialogue around issues of mutual concern (Fitzduff 1996; Ross 2000).

7 Reviewing the UK evidence at the neighbourhood scale lack of rigorous project evaluation - hard to assess the impact of bridge building projects on changing groups attitudes/prejudices towards other groups interpersonal relations circuit of knowledge - assumes good practice rather than evidence based

8 Project design structured encounters through community forums mediated discussion around issues of local concern in 3 areas of Bradford Community consultation 170 residents across 14 community centres emerging shared concerns around: drugs crime anti-social behaviour safety neighbourliness housing affordability

9 Tensions in areas of new migration

10 Womens discussion forums participants

11 Source: West Bowling Youth Initiative, Bradford Engaging young men

12 Forum evaluation - mechanisms for engagement? contact and communication learning about other groups shared understanding and collaboration

13 Evaluation: an opportunity for communication and learning all participants learned something about other groups, but settled groups learnt the most – challenged their misconceptions about newcomers the exchange of knowledge had the potential to shift perceptions of the other groups - some settled residents became less hostile towards newcomers Knowledge gained ~ some groups have parallel migration histories theyre just like us, trying to earn a wage for their family depth of new migrants poverty and deprivation other groups are generally friendly and want to mix fear and harassment underpins many community tensions it was the first time I have been together at the table with Asian lads… weve never had the chance to talk with them (Slovak young man)

14 Acknowledging fear: Asian residents comments on their Eastern European neighbours

15 Evaluation: building shared understandings? There was some convergence… some shared understanding of the nature of problems affecting the community and neighbourhood a growing appreciation of other peoples points of view, e.g. settled groups expressed some empathy for the new arrivals difficult circumstances new migrants showed a greater appreciation of settled groups views on neighbourliness BUT……… there were limits to shared understanding. This exposed religious and cultural differences between groups racist stereotypes and perceived inequalities in power and influence

16 Why limits to shared understandings? groups could agree on the nature of local problems, but not always on the causes and solutions of them culture of blaming others for neighbourhood problems settled groups saw greater potential for improving community relations than the new arrivals women with children generally saw greater potential for longer term collaboration than young men

17 Forums as a mechanism for community engagement I want more of them.... I must admit it opened my eyes Pakistani woman I t was good... I would do it again.... cause everyone could say what they think.... Slovak young man Good, because we could get our point across. They could say what was on their mind …….. we were talking about the same issues. We didnt have any argument. Everyone was calm. Eastern European woman

18 Conclusions community forums can help promote contact, communication and learning about other groups open up the possibility for recognising common interests around local issues mediated discussions that confront differences can increase empathetic understanding between groups bring a new appreciation of cultural differences increase the potential for everyday civility and neighbourliness BUT The capacity for overcoming perceived disconnections appears to differ within and between groups, and areas racism, discourses of otherness and inequalities (real and perceived) can undermine attempts to improve community relations the foundations of bridge building efforts may therefore be relatively fragile.

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