Changing Patterns of Immigration, Social Identity and Social Cohesion: Investigating the ‘Diversity Decline' Thesis in Two Cities

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Rebecca WICKES , University of Queensland, St. Lucia, QLD, Australia
John HIPP , University of California Irvine, IRVINE, CA
Robert SAMPSON , Harvard University
Increasing immigration poses a serious challenge for many countries. Empirical studies from around the world indicate that immigration and increasing diversity lead to decreases in social cohesion and increases in social withdrawal, particularly in disadvantaged areas. Less understood, however, are the mechanisms that explain these relationships. We contend that these associations are at least in part due to two key factors: how residents’ perceive the neighborhood composition and how these perceptions influence residents’ own social identity. Further we suggest that that these relationships will differ in cities with different immigration histories. In this paper we integrate census data and the Australian Community Capacity Study survey data from approximately 10,000 residents living across 298 neighborhoods in Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia. Using a multiple indicators multiple causes model, we first consider the cues that lead individuals to distort the presence of non-whites in neighborhoods. Here we focus on recent immigration increases, ancestry, language and religion as important cues of difference. We then employ multi-level models to test if these distortions influence residents’ superordinate or subordinate identities. Finally, we consider the independent effects of these distortions and social identity orientations on residents’ reports of social cohesion and interactions with fellow neighbors.