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The spatial foundations of community construction: the future of pluralism in Britain's 'multi-cultural' society

Vaughan, L; (2007) The spatial foundations of community construction: the future of pluralism in Britain's 'multi-cultural' society. Global Built Environment Review , 6 (2) pp. 3-17. Green open access

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Abstract

Research by this author and others has found that the process of the formation of clusters of immigrant settlement on the edge of cities enables immigrant groups to make social adjustments to their host society and allows urban environments to accommodate difference. Research has also shown that some groups elect to continue to cluster in the second generation of settlement and beyond, in order to sustain communal ties. Such groups follow a pattern of acculturation rather than assimilation. This paper reviews current knowledge on immigrant and ethnic minority settlement patterns and shows that common perceptions of immigrant and ethnic clusters being characterised by segregation fails to deal with the complexity of these phenomena. Taking lessons from studies of the physical, social and economic form of Jewish immigrant quarters in 19th century Britain, the paper shows that immigrant and ethnic clusters that are frequently negatively perceived as 'ghettos', can in fact act as springboards towards economic integration. This paper presents evidence to show that physical clustering enables intensification of communal activity, socialisation, networking and self-support, and suggests that settlement in locations which enable economic activity is a necessary step in the immigrant process. A discussion of the concepts of segregation and community shows that in complex societies it is incorrect to assume a correspondence between space and society. Individuals can be members of several communities simultaneously and the urban environment can be structured to enable encounters between a diverse set of social groups. The discussion demonstrates the need for precise, evidence based analysis to understand the complexity of the contemporary built environment. The paper goes on to highlight findings from recent censuses that demonstrate that patterns of Muslim settlement in the UK are not following a model of US style ghettoisation. Instead, it is suggested that rather than the Chicago School's model of the melting pot, the likely future of the urban environment in Britain is one of pluralism. The paper concludes that immigrant clusters are a multi-dimensional, complex feature of cities, which cannot be written off as 'ghettoisation'.

Type: Article
Title: The spatial foundations of community construction: the future of pluralism in Britain's 'multi-cultural' society
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.globalbuiltenvironmentreview.co.uk/Page...
Language: English
Additional information: This is a pre-publication version of a paper to be published in Global Built Environment Review, Vol. 6 (2), 2007.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/4839
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