Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 249658
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Living with difference in an increasingly diverse Europe

Given the unprecedented levels of global mobility and rapid demographic changes, a key question of our times is how we develop the capacity to live with difference. EU-funded research has addressed this issue, which also constitutes a fundamental and emerging research topic in light of global financial crises and escalating conflicts.
Living with difference in an increasingly diverse Europe
The project LIVEDIFFERENCE (Living with difference in Europe - Making communities out of strangers in an era of super-mobility and super-diversity) has offered new insights into specific forms of prejudice and advanced the theorisation of meaningful contact. Meaningful contact here refers to contact that actually changes values to produce a positive respect for others, rather than merely promoting tolerance.

Five subprojects collected original empirical data in Poland and the United Kingdom. Armed with information on spatial practices of encounter and intersectionality, research reveals that inter-linkages between the two contrasting European countries are producing a common critique of equality legislation. Also, as a result of super-mobility and super-diversity, people are changing how they to relate to others in public. Everyday encounters with difference can therefore be read as evidence that equality has become embedded in ways of thinking and talking in public life, rather than as proof of a progressive cosmopolitan public culture. The insight gained here is that strategies to reduce prejudice need to be given greater priority in national and European contexts.

LIVEDIFFERENCE also offers new insights into specific forms of prejudice. For example, in relation to class prejudice, poverty is now popularly understood as a personal failing rather than a product of the workings of capitalism. Research analyses point to a complex (re)alignment of associations between different social groups in processes of 'othering'. The work thus also helped to identify the intersectional nature of prejudice.

The team found that the workplace is most effective at creating meaningful contact. A series of spatial experiments were designed to create meaningful contact, resulting in a self-assembly spatial kit known as a diversity den. Further work is being carried out to evaluate the potential for translating this technique into a commercial training/education tool.

Opening up new directions in the interdisciplinary study of cosmopolitanism, LIVEDIFFERENCE has provided an integrated evidence base about everyday understandings of difference and spatial practices of encounter. The outcomes can help inform and influence European policies and strategies for living with difference.

Related information


Living with difference, LIVEDIFFERENCE, super-mobility, super-diversity, prejudice, meaningful contact
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