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Generating Interethnic Tolerance and Neighborhood Integration in European Urban Spaces

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A new take on immigrant integration

Immigration and integration are highly sensitive issues in European politics. An EU-funded project joined this lively discourse by comparing the integration of immigrants in six European cities.

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With increased immigration there comes an increase in ethnic diversity and a backlash against the policy of multiculturalism and interethnic relations. Funded by the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the cross-comparative project 'Generating interethnic tolerance and neighbourhood integration in European urban spaces' (GEITONIES) - meaning 'neighbourhoods' in Greek, sought to address the issue of immigrant integration from a 'relational perspective'. Unlike other studies based on national data, GEITONIES focused on the local level. The project sought to understand the conditions under which immigrants integrate successfully in urban areas. The study, which was conducted in the cities of Thessaloniki (Greece), Bilbao (Spain), Rotterdam (the Netherlands), Vienna (Austria) and Lisbon (Portugal), looked at the association between interacting groups of people sharing a neighbourhood and using the same public spaces. The study found mixed evidence of the importance of interethnic contacts in the formation of attitudes towards immigrants. In fact, as regards casual contacts, GEITONIES discovered the presence of migrants in the neighbourhood actually increases anti-immigrant attitudes while at the same time the degree of diversity decreases anti-immigrant attitudes. For natives, with regard to socio-demographic characteristics, contrary to what has been expected and shown in many other empirical analyses, age doesn't play a role in the formation of attitudes towards immigrants. Compared to men, women have a significantly higher propensity of anti-immigrant views. As regards education, natives with high levels of education are more positive in their views on immigrants. Given the uniqueness of the data collected in the GEITONIES survey, it has been possible to contribute to the body of literature on neighbourhood effects. Research has demonstrated that the neighbourhood of residence has a significant impact on life chances.

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