The complexity of diversity in reality: perceptions of urban diversity

Rikke Skovgaard Nielsen*, Anne Hedegaard Winther


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6 Citationer (Scopus)
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Major cities are becoming increasingly diverse, and the different aspects of diversity interact in shaping individual lives and neighbourhoods. However, existing research mainly presents the urban population living with this diversity as one group with the same overall perception of diversity. The purpose of this article is to nuance the concept of diversity through analysing the differences in urban residents’ perceptions of neighbourhood diversity and the factors shaping these perceptions. The article is based on 50 qualitative interviews with residents of Bispebjerg, one of the most diverse neighbourhoods of Copenhagen, Denmark. The overall finding is that living with diversity is a diverse experience. The article identifies five ideal types of residents to demonstrate how perceptions of diversity are being shaped. They all express a positive perception of diversity on an abstract level but voice concerns regarding concrete aspects of diversity. The article identifies key factors shaping these concrete perceptions of diversity: insecurity towards ethnic diversity; social inequality; degree of socialisation to diversity; and physical and social detachment from diversity. The findings point to the importance of acknowledging differences between perceptions of diversity for different groups of residents and of addressing the different concerns of these groups.
TidsskriftUrban Studies
Udgave nummer14
Sider (fra-til)2817-2832
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2020


  • Diversification
  • Hyper-diversity
  • Social inequality
  • Urban diversity


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