Do Immigrants’ Preferences for Neighbourhood Qualities Contribute to Segregation? The Case of Oslo


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Taylor & Francis

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Ethnic residential segregation is often explained with the claim that ‘immigrants don’t want to integrate—they prefer to stick together with co-ethnics’. By contrast, mixed neighbourhoods are seen as crucial for achieving social cohesion. In line with spatial assimilation theory there is a normative assumption that people interact with those living nearby. From interviews on neighbourhood qualities and locations valued by Oslo residents of Turkish, Somali and Polish backgrounds, we raise questions about the validity of two assumptions: that most immigrants want to live in the same neighbourhoods as co-ethnics; and that they want to live close to co-ethnics because they do not want to integrate. For reasons of socialisation, main preferences were for mixed neighbourhoods that included ethnic Norwegians. Whereas the preference for people of other immigrant backgrounds was linked to possibilities for socialisation, the preference for ethnic Norwegians in the neighbourhood was linked to possibilities for social integration. Co-ethnic networks could be maintained on the city level. Importantly, housing moves tended to be guided by other factors than population composition in the area.




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