engaging with diversity - engaging with diversity bergens...

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engaging with diversity bergens tidende , 14 august 2007 Traditionally sociologists have thought about the consequences of ethnic diversity in one of two ways. The conflict model claims that the more that diverse groups interact, the more social tension there will be. The contact model, on the other hand, suggests that the more that different groups interact, the less they will fear each other. Unsurprisingly the first model is favoured by conservatives to justify restrictions on immigration, while liberals often call on the second in arguing for multicultural education. New research from the American sociologist Robert Putnam suggests that both models are wrong. Putnam's data, published in the journal Scandinavian Political Studies, shows that greater diversity creates neither conflict nor cooperation but anomie. Putnam and his colleagues interviewed 30,000 people in 41 communities across America. The more diverse a community, the less socially engaged were its members - they voted less, did less community work, gave less to charity, and had fewer friends. Most strikingly, people in more diverse society people are more distrustful not just of members of other ethnic groups but of their own, too. 'It's not just that we don't trust people who are not like us', Putnam says. 'In diverse communities, we don't trust people who do look like us.' One of the most influential social scientists in the world, Putnam has the ear of politicians as widely different as Bill Clinton, George Bush, Gordon Brown and even Muammar Gaddaffi. He worries that his new research will undermine his liberal message about
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engaging with diversity - engaging with diversity bergens...

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