A multicultural shopping street: an exotic or everyday experience?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


A MULTICULTURAL SHOPPING STREET: AN EXOTIC OR EVERYDAY EXPERIENCE? Karin Peters sociospatial analysis, WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY, Wageningen, Netherlands Abstract: Public spaces are considered a reflection of society. People are differently attracted to various spaces, and spaces differently affects the everyday life of people. This paper focuses on the dynamic relation between being in public space and awareness and acceptance of multiculturalism. I draw upon research executed in a multicultural neighborhood in Utrecht, the Netherlands: Lombok, a neighborhood that has undergone tremendous social changes in recent decades. Based on interviews and observations, I argue that spaces of segregation and integration are not constructed in every day life on the basis of conscious ethnic inclusion or exclusion. People in the neighborhood are very positive toward multiculturalism, and feel no desire to spatially segregate themselves. I will elaborate on the meaning of a multicultural shopping street, the Kanaalstraat. Ethnic diversity is represented in the Kanaalstraat in various ways: in the shops and the products to be sold, and in the visitors that visit the street regularly. It became clear that the Kanaalstraat functions as a contact zone. It is a everyday place where people like to be and where people “consume” diversity, and by doing so become aware of cultural others. Brief conversations and interactions with store owners on Kanaalstraat contributes to an atmosphere in which diversity is respected and cherished. In that sense, it can possibly mean a first step toward getting to know each other and as such can be seen as a confirmation of Allport s contact hypothesis. The public visibility of multiculturalism in contact zones is important for sharing and exposing cultural values. The focus on the everyday and the mundane for understanding the meaning of public spaces is vital, because by considering the everyday life and consider how social differences are experienced and managed on an everyday basis, broader societal issues can be understood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstract Book of ESA 10th Conference Social Relations in Turbulent Times. European Sociological Association (ESA), Geneva, Swiss, September 7-10, 2011
PublisherEuropean Sociological Association (ESA)
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Event10th Conference Social Relations in Turbulent Times, Geneva, Swiss -
Duration: 7 Sept 201110 Sept 2011


Conference10th Conference Social Relations in Turbulent Times, Geneva, Swiss


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