Project leader: Karen Schönwälder
Former Researchers: Christian Jacobs, Christine Lang, Julia Martinez-Ariño, Michalis Moutselos, Maria Schiller, Lisa Szepan, Alexandre Tandé

Diversity has long constituted a distinguishing feature of cities and their populations. However, novel processes of diversification present new challenges: as post-war immigrants have become settled and recognized parts of the population, ongoing immigration adds to an increasingly heterogeneous population. Furthermore, other processes, such as the development of a broader variety of family forms and concepts of partnership, contribute to an increasing diversity of life trajectories and life concepts, particularly among the inhabitants of large cities. Politically, the recognition of difference and explicit ‘diversity’ policies have gained more prominence.

This is an umbrella project with overall themes and more specific sub-questions. In aggregate, the project investigates how urban actors in Germany and in France respond to diversity, and how they shape its implications. As distinct from previous work, this project focuses on policy interventions at the local level. Moreover, it extends the focus beyond the city government and administration to a broader range of actors to capture the shift to more collaborative forms of governance and to reflect the important role of civil society. We also study a large number of cities in two countries to facilitate systematic comparisons of cities and gain insights into what drives their responses to diversity. The project involves a large survey of urban actors in 40 major German and French cities, as well as case studies of selected cities, policy fields, and organizational developments.

Key research questions are:

  • how cities intervene in structures and relevance of diversity (through explicit and implicit diversity policies);
  • how diversity is represented in governance networks;
  • in what ways responses across cities and the two countries differ and what drives different responses.


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