Are Diverse Communities Discordant With Cohesive Ones?

A study utilizing simulations of more than 20 million virtual “neighborhoods” finds a negative relationship between cohesion and diversity. The findings could alter how we understand and build social capital within neighborhoods and across cities.
November 19, 2013, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Richard Florida looks at a new study, “The (In)compatibility of Diversity and Sense of Community” [PDF], published in the November edition of the American Journal of Community Psychology that found a "troubling paradox" using agent-based modeling: "community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals."

Seeking to find a silver lining to these "sobering" findings, Florida asks sociologist Zachary Neal, one of the study's authors: "If diversity is unattainable at the neighborhood level, might it be possible at the level of the city, as essentially a network of more or less similar neighborhoods?"

"We usually view segregation as problematic, but when it comes in the form of a patchwork of neighborhoods and enclaves that each have their own character, it may actually ‘work,’” says Neal.

"For this reason, urbanists and local policy makers might be better off refocusing their efforts away from the unachievable ideal of diverse and cohesive neighborhoods and toward creating cohesion across the various neighborhoods that make up a city," posits Florida. 

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Published on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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