How public space affects interethnic contact:
a methodological conceptualization

by Christian Jacobs

Working Papers WP 16-05
October 2016
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

In this paper, I address the question of the circumstances under which migrants and non-migrants come into contact with one another. While in the literature the effects of such encounters and interactions are discussed quite frequently, the conditions leading to their occurrence are only rarely considered. In this paper, the relevance of public space for everyday encounters will be discussed.

A detailed comparative observation of fifty neighbourhoods in Germany was conducted. The different types of urban areas, as well as the opportunities for contact in the public spaces of every individual neighbourhood, were systematically analysed. This paper will outline a scheme for a systematic categorization of neighbourhoods according to the contact opportunities offered by their public spaces. It will be shown that public space helps to explain the emergence of interethnic contacts.

Keywords: Public space, contact opportunities, interethnic contact, neighbourhood effects, everyday encounters  

Christian Jacobs is a doctoral student in the Department of Socio-Cultural Diversity. He earned his MA degree in Sociology and his BA degree in Sociology and Geography at the University of Göttingen. Since 2009, Christian had already been working at the Institute as a student assistant, where he was mainly contributing to the ‘Diversity and Contact’ (DivCon) study. His research interests are in urban and diversity studies, city planning, housing policies, spatial structures and public spaces of cities.