How and Where to Point a Superdiversity Lens?

  • Fran Meissner
Part of the Global Diversities book series (GLODIV)


Operationalising superdiversity research requires that researchers use the notion diligently and that they are able to address specific hurdles of research design. In this chapter three aspects of the research design process are considered: choosing sites, foci, and analysis techniques. An investigation of the social networks of Pacific and New Zealand Māori migrants living in London and Toronto—the empirical project the book builds on—serves to illustrate the challenges and their solutions. In particular a discussion of starting research with a fuzzy category, facing difficulties in deciding on a specific set of superdiversity variables, and drawing on cross-context data are themes discussed not only to offer advice on designing superdiversity research but also to introduce the reader to the specificity of the case studies.


Superdiversity operationalisation Fuzzy categories London and Toronto City as context 


  1. Anisef, Paul, and Michael Lanphier. 2003. The world in a city. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aspinall, Peter J. 2012. Answer formats in British census and survey ethnicity questions: Does open response better capture ‘superdiversity’? Sociology 46(2): 354–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bashevkin, Sylvia B. 2006. Tales of two cities: Women and municipal restructuring in London and Toronto. Vancouver: UBC Press.Google Scholar
  4. Baumann, Gerd. 2006. Contesting culture. Discourses of identity in multi-ethnic London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reprinted.Google Scholar
  5. Berns McGown, Rima. 1999. Muslims in the diaspora: The Somali communities of London and Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  6. Boudreau, Julie-Anna, Roger Keil, and Douglas Young. 2009. Changing Toronto. Governing urban neoliberalism. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P., and L.J.D. Wacquant. 1992. An invitation to reflexive sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  8. Brenton-Short, Lisa, and Marie Price. 2004. Cities greater than 25% foreign born. Gum—Globalisation Urbanisation Migration.Google Scholar
  9. Brettell, Caroline. 2003. Bringing the city back in: Cities as contexts for immigrant incorporation. In American arrivals: Anthropology engages the new immigration—School of American Research advanced seminar series, ed. Nancy Foner, 163–196. Oxford: James Currey.Google Scholar
  10. Brubaker, Rogers. 2003. Neither Individualism nor ‘groupism’. Ethnicities 3(4): 553–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. ———. 2013. Categories of analysis and categories of practice: A note on the study of Muslims in European countries of immigration. Ethnic and Racial Studies 36(1): 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dahinden, Janine. 2013. Cities, migrant incorporation, and ethnicity: A network perspective on boundary work. Journal of International Migration and Integration 14(1): 39–60.Google Scholar
  13. Foner, Nancy. 2007. How exceptional is New York? Migration and multiculturalism in the empire city. Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(6): 999–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fong, Eric. 2006. Inside the mosaic. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  15. Gamper, Markus, Michael Schönhuth, and Michael Kronenwett. 2012. Bringing qualitative and quantitative data together: Collecting network data with the help of the software tool VennMaker”. In Social networking and community behavior modeling: Qualitative and quantitative measures, ed. Maytham Safar, Khaled A. Mahdi, 193–214. Hershey: IGI Global.Google Scholar
  16. Glick Schiller, Nina, and Ayşe Çağlar. 2009. Towards a comparative theory of locality in migration studies: Migrant incorporation and city scale. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 35(2): 177–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. ———. 2011. Locating migration. Rescaling cities and migrants. VIII, 279 S.Google Scholar
  18. Hammersley, Martyn, and Paul Atkinson. 2007. Ethnography. Principles in practice, 3rd ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Heil, Tilmann. 2012. Everyday living together in two stateless but diverse regions. Oxford: Catalonia and Casamance.Google Scholar
  20. Herbert, Joanna. 2008. Negotiating boundaries in the city: Migration, ethnicity, and gender in Britain. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  21. Hopkins, Gail. 2006. Somali community organizations in London and Toronto: Collaboration and effectiveness. Journal of Refugee Studies 19(3): 361–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jenkins, Richard. 1994. Rethinking ethnicity: Identity, categorization and power. Ethnic and Racial Studies 17(2): 197–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jones, Hannah et al. 2015. Urban multiculture and everyday encounters in semi-public, franchised cafe spaces. The Sociological Review.Google Scholar
  24. Krausova, Anna, and Carlos Vargas-Silva. 2013. London: Census profile. Oxford: COMPAS.Google Scholar
  25. Kyambi, Sarah. 2005. Beyond black and white. Mapping new immigrant communities. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar
  26. Kymlicka, Will. 2003. Canadian multiculturalism in historical and comparative perspective: Is Canada unique? Constitutional Forum 13(1): 1–8.Google Scholar
  27. Marin, Alexandra, and Keith N. Hampton. 2007. Simplifying the personal network name generator: Alternatives to traditional multiple and single name generators. Field Methods 19(2): 163–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marsden, Peter V. 2005. Recent developments in network measurement. In Models and methods in social network analysis, ed. P.J. Carrington, J. Scott, and S. Wasserman. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Meissner, Fran. 2013. Socialising with diversity: Small migrant groups, social networks and superdiversity. Brighton: University of Sussex.Google Scholar
  30. Mitchell, J. Clyde. 2001. The situational perspective. In Cities, society and social perception. A central African perspective, 1–33. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  31. Murdie, R., and S. Ghosh. 2010. Does spatial concentration always mean a lack of integration? Exploring ethnic concentration and integration in Toronto. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 36(2): 293–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nathan, Max. 2011. The economics of super-diversity: Findings from British cities, 2001–2006. Spatial Economics Research Centre discussion papers 68.Google Scholar
  33. Newbold, K. Bruce. 2011. Urbanisation and the growth of the Canadian city. In The changing Canadian population, ed. Barry Edmonston and Eric Fong, 175–188. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Peters, B. Guy. 1998. Comparative politics: Theory and methods. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Phillimore, Jenny. 2014. Delivering maternity services in an era of superdiversity: The challenges of novelty and newness. Ethnic and Racial Studies 38(4): 568–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Qadeer, Mohammad A. 2004. Ethnic segregation in a multicultural city: The case of Toronto, Canada. Policy Matters—CERIS Publication 6: 1–6.Google Scholar
  37. Reitz, Jeffrey G. 1988. The institutional structure of immigration as a determinant of inter-racial competition: A comparison of Britain and Canada. International Migration Review 22(1): 117–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ———. 2012. The distinctiveness of Canadian immigration experience. Patterns of Prejudice 46(5): 518–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Reitz, Jeffrey G., Raymond Breton, and Karen Kisiel Dion. 2009. Multiculturalism and social cohesion. Potentials and challenges of diversity. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roy, Ananya. 2009. The 21st-century metropolis: New geographies of theory. Regional Studies 43(6): 819–830.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sepulveda, Leandro, Stephen Syrett, and Fergus Lyon. 2011. Population superdiversity and new migrant enterprise: The case of London. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development 23(7–8): 469–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Statistics Canada. 2007. Toronto: Canada’s Major Immigrant Gateway.Google Scholar
  43. Tilly, Charles. 1984. Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons. New York: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  44. De Vaus, David. 2009. Comparative cross national designs. In The Sage handbook of research methods, ed. Pertti Alasuutari, Julia Brannen, and Leonard Bickman. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Vertovec, Steven. 2007. Super-diversity and its implications. Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(6): 1024–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Watson, S., and D. Studdert. 2006. Markets as sites for social interaction: Spaces of diversity. York: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  47. Watt, P. 2006. Respectability, roughness and ‘race’: Neighbourhood place images and the making of working-class social distinctions in London. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30(4): 776–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. White, Harrison C. 2008. Notes on the constituents of social structure: Soc. Rel. 10—Spring ‘65. Sociologica 1.Google Scholar
  49. Wimmer, Andreas. 2009. Herder’s heritage and the boundary-making approach: Studying ethnicity in immigrant societies. Sociological Theory 27(3): 244–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fran Meissner
    • 1
  1. 1.Urban and Regional SociologyUniversity of KasselKasselGermany

Personalised recommendations