Servicing Super-Diversity: ESRC IAA Knowledge Exchange Fellowship October 2014 – March 2015


This Knowledge Exchange Fellowship sees Berg as a ‘researcher in residence’ in the Chief Executive’s Department of the London Borough of Southwark. The aims of the fellowship are: to conduct research that will complement and inform the Council’s policies and service delivery practices; to contribute to a more nuanced social science understanding of urban diversity, and in particular the challenges for local governments of managing increasing diversity among their residents; and to generate insights of use to other local councils across the UK and Europe. The fellowship will provide Berg with an ‘inside-out’ perspective on the challenges of service delivery to a super-diverse population and issues of concern to local residents, which will feed into ongoing and future research collaboration.

During the fellowship, Berg will conduct two research projects:

1) Resident involvement in Southwark. This research focused on resident involvement across Southwark with a view to disseminate examples of inclusive, innovative, and sustainable practices to support the council’s involvement initiatives, appropriate for the particular challenges facing Southwark. A report on the research will shortly be published by Southwark Council. For more information click here. For Southwark’s housing strategy click here.

2) An assessment of the needs and impact on local services of the Latin American population in Southwark. This research will work with Southwark Council and Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) to assess the needs and impact on local services of Latin American immigrants in Southwark, a relatively new immigrant group in London.

Principal Investigator

Mette Louise Berg


The Economic and Social Research Council

Professionals' Advisory Group

Southwark Council
Latin American Women’s Rights Service


CitiesCivil SocietyDiversityNeighbourhoodsPoliciesWelfare




Global cities like London are increasingly characterised by the ‘super-diversity’ and ‘thrown-togetherness’ of their residents. Interacting factors of difference among and between city-dwellers living side-by-side include class and socio-economic status, ethnicity, faith, country of origin, language, gender, sexuality and age profiles, entitlements and rights, and labour market experiences, the impact of which is intensified by high demographic churn. These new patterns of diversity pose a series of social, political and policy challenges. Local authorities have to manage these changes and challenges in a context of central government funding cuts. New research and policy collaboration is needed to understand the ethical, political and practical implications of these conditions.

This ESRC IAA Knowledge Exchange Fellowship is intended to be mutually beneficial to Southwark, LAWRS, and the PI (Berg), and to produce insights that would be applicable not only in Southwark, but also in other local councils facing similar challenges of super-diversity. The overarching aim is to find ways of ensuring that super-diversity does not bring new forms of exclusion and inequality in service provision; to generate insights of use to other local councils across the UK and Europe; and to refine existing social science understanding of urban diversity.


During the fellowship, Berg will act a ‘researcher in residence’ with Southwark Council, working in the Chief Executive’s Department, on a part-time basis. The research will involve interviews with residents, with service providers in the voluntary and charitable sector, and with council staff, as well as participant observation and a literature review.