The Emergence of Super-Diversity in Britain

By Steven Vertovec

Abstract

Diversity in Britain is not what it used to be. Some thirty years of government policies, social service practices and public perceptions have been framed by a particular understanding of immigration and multicultural diversity. That is, Britain 's immigrant and ethnic minority population has conventionally been characterised by large, well-organized African-Caribbean and South Asian communities of citizens originally from Commonwealth countries or formerly colonial territories. Policy frameworks and public understanding - and, indeed, many areas of social science - have not caught up with recently emergent demographic and social patterns. Britain can now be characterised by 'super-diversity,' a notion intended to underline a level and kind of complexity surpassing anything the country has previously experienced. Such a condition is distinguished by a dynamic interplay of variables among an increased number of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, transnationally connected, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified immigrants who have arrived over the last decade. Outlined here, new patterns of super-diversity pose significant challenges for both policy and research.

Keywords: diversity; multiculturalism; immigration; United Kingdom ; London

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