Living with diversity - The importance of neighbourhoods for social contacts and daily activities in diverse urban areas
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Cities are growing and are fast becoming more diverse. At the same time, the technological development makes it easier and easier to keep in touch with friends and family over longer distances. These changes affect cities and how people live in them, and one might expect that the role of neighbourhoods has changed as well and perhaps even has diminished as a result. At the same time, different groups of residents are in possession of different physical, financial and social resources, which might result in the neighbourhood being more important for some groups than others. This is the starting point of this thesis, where the research question is "How important is the residential neighbourhood and its diversity for different groups of residents in different neighbourhoods?". This is studied by looking at residents' social networks and daily activities In Sydhavnen in Copenhagen and comparing the results to another study of Bispebjerg, another neighbourhood in Copenhagen. Existing literature studying what affects neighbourhoods and the residents living there is plentiful, and presents a list of expectations towards the residents and their use of neighbourhoods. Territorial stigmatization is e.g. expected to reduce residents' social networks and activities outside the neighbourhood, and high diversity is not expected to translate into diverse social networks, but might instead pose a threat to social cohesion. Furthermore, the neighbourhood is expected to be more important to certain resident groups. Elderly, families with children living at home and ethnic minorities are expected to have their life more centred around the neighbourhood than others. In Sydhavnen several expectations were met, but many also differed. First, stigmatization did not seem to negatively affect the residents. Rather it is positive, as the stigma is related to high diversity, it makes the residents feel at home no matter their background. Stigma also keeps housing prices relatively low, which is important to the many of the residents. Second, it was found that elderly did in fact have the majority of both their daily activities and social network within the neighbourhood. Families with children and ethnic minorities also had more close friends within the neighbourhood, but their patterns of activities did not differ from those without children and the ethnic Danes respectively. Differences were also found between Bispebjerg and Sydhavnen. Residents with lower socio-economic status in Bispebjerg were e.g. found to have smaller local social networks, while this group in Sydhavnen had the largest networks, perhaps explained by them having lived there the longest. The conclusion of the thesis is, that even though the neighbourhood perhaps does not have the same meaning that it did a few decades ago, it has not lost its importance. The neighbourhood still plays an active role in residents' daily lives, and even more so for the elderly, ethnic minorities and families with children.