Smets, P., & Den Uyl, M.
Smets, P., & Den Uyl, M. (2008). The complex role of ethnicity in urban mixing: A study of two deprived neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Urban Studies, 45(7), 1439–1460.
In the US and western Europe, mixing policies are widespread. They aim to differentiate various income-groups in deprived neighbourhoods. By constructing 'expensive' housing units, the middle classes are encouraged to settle in these neighbourhoods and consequently a concentration of low-income-groups is circumscribed. Such a new population composition is assumed to lead to an improved quality of life in the neighbourhood concerned. However, insufficient attention is paid to ethnicity and interethnic dynamics; these aspects will be elaborated on in two case studies of deprived and ethnically differentiated neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. Furthermore, this paper will also explore the impact of ethnic differences and perceptions on the social contacts and interactions between various ethnic groups of residents.
The authors find that ethnicity plays a major role in urban restructuring. Planners were found to be unclear on who they wanted to mix in new developments. They often expected a mix of housing and people to improve employment, education, safety, and social integration, although this was not the case for the observed neighborhoods. Differences in ethnicity proved problematic to bridging social capital. The authors argue that without more insight into interethnic dynamics at the neighborhood level, mixing policies can do more harm than good.
Description of method used in the article
Both authors reviewed reports, plans, and statistical data. One author used ethnographic fieldwork in Bijlmer, conducting semi-structured interviews with residents and planning professionals. The other author used fieldwork in Transvaal, conducting semi-structured interviews with residents and observations of the neighborhood.
Of practical use