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A quantitative analysis of the changing relationship between ethnic diversity and social quality in England

Gilfillan, L. (2018). A quantitative analysis of the changing relationship between ethnic diversity and social quality in England. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, Universtiy of London)

Abstract

Robert Putnam’s 2007 empirical study, E Pluribus Unum, has become the seminal study in a growing body of work which uses statistical methods to measure the effects of ethnic diversity on social capital, or other measures of social quality. Putnam’s study found that ethnic diversity negatively affects social capital in the United States, leading people to withdraw from social contact and ‘hunker down’ at home, alone, miserably watching TV. This study revisits Putnam’s findings and seeks to plug two major gaps across this field: firstly, the absence of any frame of reference for social capital or other measures of social quality, which has led to both a narrowing of the commonly used indicators of social quality and a possible over-stating of the relative importance to overall social quality of those indicators which are employed; and, secondly, the lack of any investigation into how relationships between ethnic diversity and social quality change over time.

This study addresses two research questions: Do ethnic diversity and immigration have any effects on a range of indicators of social quality in local areas of England? Do any effects from ethnic diversity and immigration on social quality change over time? The study analyses data from the Citizenship Survey and other sources to investigate whether the rapid increase and spread of ethnic diversity throughout England in the twenty year period from 1991 to 2011 had any measurable effects on indicators of social quality in local authority areas over the period 2001 to 2011.

The study finds that ethnic diversity and immigration do have the negative effect on local trust identified by Putnam but that they also have positive effects on some social quality measures, and no effects on others. Broadly, these effects become more positive over time for measures of social cohesion and more negative for measures of social capital. The study demonstrates that the negative, positive and null effects of ethnic diversity are linked to differences in the measure of social quality; when individual-level, attitudinal, proximate measures of social quality are used, like local trust, negative findings are far more likely. The study concludes that ethnic diversity and immigration are not useful explanations for variance in social quality; levels of deprivation and higher-education more strongly account for this. It would be worthwhile to further develop a robust framework for quantitative studies of social quality and to improve methodologies for measuring social quality relationships over time.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/19670
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