Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Welcoming Neighborhoods

Description of the Project

Welcoming Neighborhoods - Conditions of Social Cohesion in Super-Diverse Communities (NaWill)


The research project "Welcoming Neighborhoods – Conditions of Social Cohesion in Super-diverse Communities" explores the conditions of social conflicts and social cohesion in urban neighborhoods in Germany. It addresses three key questions: To what extent does new diversity in neighborhoods lead to conflicts and/or new convivial forms of coexistence? How do conflicts contribute to a new understanding of local community and welcome culture? Where do conflicts arise and what role do the socio-economic status and intercultural competence of neighborhood residents play in this context? To answer these questions, we conduct a comparative analysis of four neighborhoods that differ along the axes of socio-economic and socio-cultural diversity. 


The aim of the research project is to establish which factors determine local crisis resilience in selected neighborhoods. The four cases will be analyzed in the context of two intertwining crises: the housing crisis – which is currently emerging in a number of places in Germany due to a shortage of available housing as well as rising real estate and rental prices – and the so-called refugee crisis. The two crises have different local effects but are also interdependent and often lead to local conflicts over housing and the arrival of refugees. This applies in particular in urban agglomerations, where housing markets were already subject to a high degree of pressure even before the start of refugee migration to Germany (Holm et al 2015, Schönig et al., 2017, Media Service 2016). Besides creating additional demand for cheap housing, the refugee migration of recent years has also contributed to a sudden increase in the diversity of migration histories, religions, lifestyles and socio-economic conditions among the population in Germany, as well as giving rise to narratives of local areas being pushed beyond their limit, especially among residents in medium-sized and larger cities (Schamann 2017). Against this background, the research project "Welcoming Neighborhoods" examines the question of social cohesion under the condition of increasing diversity in local neighborhoods. Our particular interest lies in determining which factors strengthen social cohesion in times of interconnected crises, and in analyzing the values and norms, experiences and negotiation processes that play a part in bolstering that cohesion. Existing research tends to examine increasing diversity in neighborhoods primarily in relation to the erosion of social capital and social cohesion (Putnam 2007, Alesina/Ferrara 2000, Gundelach/Traunmüller 2010). According to this perspective, the change is experienced by neighborhood residents as crisis-laden and leads to negative results, such as the reduction of mutual trust among residents or their willingness to be active in civil society. Our research project aims to change the perspective by examining the conditions under which new diversity in neighborhoods does not lead to an erosion of social capital, but rather gives rise to successful social conflict management. One example of this type of positive outcome that is of particular interest to the project is the remarkable increase in civic engagement observed in Germany since 2011 in the course of the ongoing refugee migration (see Hamann et al., 2016).


Duration: 10/2017 - 09/2020


Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)






Alesina, A. / Ferrara, E. L. (2000): Participation in heterogenous communities. In: Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115(3), 847–904.


Gundelach, B. / Traunmüller, R. (2010): Kulturelle Diversität und sozialer Zusammenhalt. Eine Mehrebenenanalyse zum Einfluss multikultureller Kontexte auf das Sozialkapital in den deutschen Regionen. In: Freitag, M. / Adrian, V. (eds.): Vergleichende subnationale Analysen für Deutschland. Institutionen, Staatstätigkeiten und politische Kulturen. Münster: Lit-Verlag, 315-343.


Hamann, U. / Karakayali, S. / Wallis, M. / Höfler, L. (2016): Erhebung zu Koordinationsmodellen und Herausforderungen ehrenamtlicher Flüchtlingshilfe in den Kommunen. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Holm, A. / Gardemin, D. / Rink, D. / Schönig, B. (2015): Städte unter Druck. Die Rückkehr der Wohnungsfrage. In: Blätter für deutsche und interantionale Politik, 6/2015, 69-79.


Mediendienst Integration (2016): Unterbringung. Sind Flüchtlinge ein Konjunktur-Motor für den Wohnungsmarkt? Berlin: Mediendienst Integration. (accessed 14 July 2017)


Putnam, R. D. (2007): E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century. In: Scandinavian Political Studies, 30(2), 137-174. 


Schamann, H. (2017): Stadt, Land, Flucht. Konzeptionelle Überlegungen zum Vergleich städtischer Flüchtlingspolitik in Deutschland, In: M. Barbehön, S. Münch (eds.), Variationen des Städtischen – Variationen lokaler Politik, Stadtforschung aktuell, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 91-117.


Schönig, B. / Rink, D. / Gardemin, D. / Holm, A. (2017): Paradigmenwechsel in der kommunalen Wohnungspolitik? Variationen kommunalisierter Wohnungspolitik im transformierten Wohlfahrtsstaat. In: M. Barbehön, S. Münch (eds.), Variationen des Städtischen – Variationen lokaler Politik, Stadtforschung aktuell, Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden, 25-62