Multiculture and community in new city spaces

Kesten, Jamie; Cochrane, Allan; Mohan, Giles and Neal, Sarah (2011). Multiculture and community in new city spaces. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 32(2) pp. 133–150.



Convention suggests that multicultural areas tend to exhibit high levels of residential and educational segregation, high degrees of poverty and deprivation and low rates of contact between culturally distinct individuals and groups. By contrast, with the help of a case study of a fast growing English new town, this paper reflects on the experience of multicultural settlement in what might be described as an ordinary city, one in which that experience is relatively recent and whose identity is constantly in the process of being made and remade. It draws on qualitative research, based around semi structured interviews, participant observation and the use of focus groups, to develop its conclusions. Moving beyond any notion that minority ethnic communities live ‘parallel lives’, the paper identifies and explores some of the ways in which the new city spaces of Milton Keynes are actively lived, negotiated and understood by the Ghanaian and Somali communities (and particularly by young people from those communities). It highlights the tensions between the ways in which difference is negotiated in practice and attempts to define communities through processes of governance.

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