Table Topics: Fighting Complex Structures with New Concepts: How “Superdiversity” Can Help Us Understand Contemporary Migration Flows
Since Steven Vertovec coined the notion of “super-diversity” in 2007, it has gained in popularity in academic and policy circles. Talking about super-diversity is meant to provide a better understanding of changes ongoing in Western societies, especially among their populations, who are evolving quickly under the effect of new migration dynamics. Urban populations, in particular, are becoming more heterogenous and the social relationships more unstable.
In the research community, the notion raises hopes but also critiques, and is still facing several challenges, both in terms of theory building and implementation of methods.
Outside academia, super-diversity attracted some politicians and public institutions, but has also been defined and interpreted in different ways.
- Definition of the notion of “super-diversity” and core ideas of Vertovec’s seminal article.
- How is super-diversity approached in academic research?
- What is new in this approach, in comparison to older ones?
- What kind of questions and challenges are raised by the notion, for both researchers and policy-makers?
Laurence Lessard-Phillips is honorary research fellow at the Sociology Department and the Institute for Social Change of the University of Manchester. She is currently working on a project entitled “Unity out of diversity? Perspectives on the adaptations of immigrants in Britain”, which will explore the perceptions of immigrant adaptation (and its dimensionality) in the spheres of academia, policy, and public opinion.
Alexandre Tandé is is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. He joined the institute to work on the CityDiv project, investigating in particular how French urban actors shape new dynamics of diversity.