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Migrant belonging, social location and the neighbourhood: recent migrants in East London and Birmingham

Wessendorf, Susanne ORCID: 0000-0002-0932-6635 (2019) Migrant belonging, social location and the neighbourhood: recent migrants in East London and Birmingham. Urban Studies, 56 (1). 131 - 146. ISSN 1742-1759

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0042098017730300


Scholars examining different aspects of migrant settlement have long recognized the importance of questions around how newcomers forge a sense of connectedness to the society in which they settle. This article contributes new knowledge by focussing on three factors which shape migrants’ sense of belonging: firstly, the immigration-related diversity of the neighbourhood in which they settle; secondly, the migrants’ social location in regards to race, gender, religion and language; and thirdly, migrants’ previous experiences of migration-related diversity. Drawing on theories around civility, cosmopolitanism and migrant ‘place making’, and by comparing recent migrants in Birmingham and East London, the article focuses on the role of social interactions and encounters in public space. While migrants who had little previous experiences of diversity go through a process of multicultural adaptation when settling in ethnically diverse areas, others stressed the need to live in areas characterized by visible diversity because of fear of racism. Furthermore, their sense of belonging was also shaped by previous experiences of exclusion in countries of transit migration. The findings highlight that it is not necessarily the ethnic make-up of a city overall which impacts on a migrants’ sense of belonging, but it is the neighbourhood, the immediate locality in which migrants live, and the nature of social interactions with other residents in such areas, which crucially impacts on their sense of inclusion or exclusion.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Urban Studies Journal
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2017 14:26
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:38
Projects: 621945
Funders: European Commission Marie Sk1odowska-Curie Research Fellowship Programme

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