The ambiguity of diversity: Management of ethnic and class transitions in a gentrifying local shopping street
by Emil van Eck, Iris Hagemans & Jan Rath
Urban Studies, 57(16): 3299–3314
As a malleable concept with a relatively positive resonance, ‘diversity’ proves to be a useful tool to legitimise a range of policy strategies, goals and outcomes. In the Netherlands, the concept has gained a central role in the implementation of social mixing policies targeting so-called problematic neighbourhoods by introducing a better ‘mixed’ or ‘balanced’ population. The discursive celebration of such a mixed neighbourhood, however, often carefully evades the question: ‘A mix of what?’ Closer inspection of policy interventions reveals that the different meanings of diversity are employed to claim urban space for some groups, while excluding others. This is illustrated by a range of micro-management strategies in a shopping street in Amsterdam, Javastraat. Framed as promoting diversity, they form a symbolically loaded strategy to covertly manage ethnic and class transition by targeting the retail landscape. This article explores the (discursive) remaking of the shopping street and the consequences thereof for shopkeepers and local residents.
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