Table Topics: DiverCities. Gentrification, Social Mobility and Public Spaces (Anouk Tersteeg)
Although cities have always attracted diverse groups of people, recently scholars including Vertovec (2007; 2010) have argued that cities are becoming even more diverse. The EU-funded research project DIVERCITIES in which I work uses the concept of hyper-diversity to indicate that cities are not only increasingly diverse in ethnic, demographic and socioeconomic terms, but also with respect to attitudes, lifestyles and activities of people (see: Tasan-Kok et al., 2013). In Western European cities, the neighbourhoods that are most diverse are often relatively deprived areas that host low-income groups, non-western ethnic minority groups and newcomers to the city (Wessendorf 2014). For this, these areas are often portrayed as undesirable places to live in public and political debates. Authorities seek to promote the influx of middle class households and entrepreneurs to stimulate social cohesion and social mobility in these areas.
At the table “DiverCities. Gentrification, Social Mobility and Public Spaces”, I would like to critically assess this policy approach, by considering the perspectives of multiple resident groups in these diverse and deprived areas, particularly also low-income and/or (ethnic) minority groups. What does the neighbourhood and its’ diversity mean for different resident groups (positively and negatively)? What do pro (white) middle class policy approaches mean for them? And from the perspective of the city, are these approaches the right way to go?
Anouk Tersteeg is an urban geographer in the Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. She works as a junior researcher in the EU-funded research project DIVERCITIES which examines how cities can profit more from their increasingly complex social diversity, in terms of social cohesion, social mobility and entrepreneurship. Her PhD research focuses on the conditions under which living amidst diversity can bridge social differences.