IMER Lunch: Astrid Ouahyb Sundsbø – Social mixing policies: What You Want and What You Get
In the public debate and contemporary social policies in Norway as well as in other countries, concentrations of “immigrants” in certain areas of a city are considered to be unfortunate and something which needs to be fought against (see i.e. Gakkestad 2003; Akerhaug 2012). It is anticipated that spatial concentrations of “immigrants” enforces the social isolation of “immigrants” and triggers criminal activities, among other aspects. This becomes very obvious when a “high percentage of immigrants” in an area serves as basis for referring to that area as a “ghetto” or “insecure” (see i.e. Sæter 2005; Vassenden: 2007; cf. Akerhaug 2012).
In this lunch seminar, the idea of social mixing, which is not just common in the general public debate but also a manifested major urban policy and planning goal (Sæter & Ruud 2005; Huse, Sæter & Aniksdal 2010; cf. Musterd 2005) will be discussed. By using some illustrations both from the academic debate as well as own empirical work, it is shown that it is necessary to be critical about this concept.
It is referred to literature arguing that there is a lack of empirical evidence showing that the residential segregation of “immigrants” has any effect at all, for instance on “integration” and crime (for instance Musterd 2005; Galster 2007; Lees 2008). Furthermore, it is discussed that the imagination of social mixing as an ideal way to tackle the “multicultural challenge” might be founded on a highly problematic understanding of “immigrants“ and their norms and values as inherently “bad” (cf. Eriksen 1996: 51). This is shown by drawing on statements from interviews with members from the majority population residing in Oslo.
Astrid Ouahyb Sundsbø
Astrid Ouahyb Sundsbø (PhD) is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Georg-Simmel Center for Metropolitan Studies in Berlin. She holds a doctoral degree in sociology from the Humboldt-University of Berlin (2012). From 2012-2014 she worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for a Sustainable University at the University of Hamburg. Her main fields of research compromise: Social inequality, residential segregation in cities, migration and interethnic relations. Her most recent publication is Grenzziehungen in der Stadt. Ethnische Kategorien und die Wahrnehmung und Bewertung von Wohnorten (Springer VS, 2014) where it is discussed whether ethnic boundary making on the side of the majority population could be a possible explanation for the residential concentration of immigrants in Berlin and Oslo.