Diversity, Economic Growth and Social Cohesion
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Maddy Janssens, Dino Pinelli, Dafne C. Reyman and Sandra Wallmann
Chapter 8: London. Demonstrating ‘Good’ Diversity: Option and Choice in the Local System
Sandra Wallman This chapter offers an ethnographic case study of one multi-cultural neighbourhood in south London whose history shows a continuity of diversity style in the local system. In a time of growing recession and anxiety about race relations in England the area evolved against current expectations. It is a mixed, low-income inner city area that does not find race or ethnic relations a central or even a routinely important issue. This style is consistent through larger and smaller local units and has been throughout the history of the Battersea borough, in which the neighbourhood is situated. It is also reflected in the experience of households within the neighbourhood. What is crucial here is the relative openness of the wider system, which extends the options and the range of choice open to residents. As a result, their life chances are enhanced by diversity: the chapter shows the way in which households take up the options offered by the environment and deploy their resources across the various domains of livelihood. Spreading resources protects against economic failure: when one option collapses, another is in line to take the strain. Such cross-cutting group membership implies multiethnic networks focussed around the issue at stake rather than around ethnicity as such. 8.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter offers Battersea, south London, as an example of ‘good’ diversity. The case warrants explanation because its a-ethnic style and economic creativity run contrary to popular expectations of mixed inner city areas worldwide, and because it goes against the evidence of...
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