Urban Mobility and Diversity: an interdisciplinary perspective on contrasting patterns of minority settlement in Jerusalem and Stockholm

Blog by Jonathan Rokem and Laura Vaughan

8 Jan 2019, 4:54 p.m.
Jonathan Rokem and Laura Vaughan

Read the corresponding articles on OnlineFirst:

Geographies of Ethnic Segregation in Stockholm: The Role of Mobility and Co-Presence in Shaping the ‘Diverse’ City 

Segregation, Mobility and Encounters in Jerusalem: The Role of Public Transport Infrastructure in Connecting the ‘Divided City’

AuthorsDr. Jonathan Rokem, University of Kent and Prof. Laura Vaughan, University College London


Residential settlement patterns are usually framed as being a challenge for inclusion and diversity, with segregation being the most common critique of minorities living in cities. In our two recent Urban Studies papers (see above), we suggest that rather than focusing on residential settlement patterns, research into segregation should consider other aspects of urban living. We argue that a lack of access to employment, social and cultural opportunities constitutes a critical barrier to acculturation; whilst barriers to mobility, limit opportunities mixing in public space. Our interdisciplinary research has shown that by assessing the degree to which minority groups have opportunities for co-presence, we can readjust our thinking in this area. Comparative research into patterns of potential mobility across Jerusalem and Stockholm suggests that urban segregation and ethnic diversity are shaped variously by spatial, policy and migration trajectories over time.


Figure 1A Figure 1B

Figure 1a & 1b: Space syntax analysis of Jerusalem and Stockholm’s spatial structure, showing Normalised Choice (NACH) 2000 m (the colour range from red to blue indicates high to low values).


We describe empirical work involving space syntax analysis of the street network and public transport affordances of the two cities, coupled to statistical analysis of their ethnic composition. In the case of Jerusalem, access to public transport is multi-dimensional: as well as providing access to resources, it shapes opportunities for spatial mobility that have the potential for overcoming ethnic divisions, though they can also reinforce intergroup tensions as the case of Jerusalem shows (Rokem et al. 2018). In contrast, Stockholm is showing increasing ethnic spatial differentiation that stems from historical housing policy decisions, despite Sweden’s long-standing political vision of social integration.

Our research suggests that in the case of Stockholm, opportunities for interaction in public space are severely constrained where residential mobility is limited; while in Jerusalem, despite its contested political reality, greater connectivity can provide opportunities for interaction between groups that are normally quite separate. The importance of co-presence as a factor in overcoming exclusion must be analysed critically: not every co-presence translates into interaction, let alone meaningful interaction. In our findings from Jerusalem and Stockholm, we discuss the opportunities for mobility and inclusion that counterbalance the contrasting urban reality in both cities.


Figure 2

Figure 2: Street segments within 800 m walking distance of the Jerusalem Light Rail: divided into: Arab and Jewish, Jewish Ultra-Orthodox, Jewish in transition.  



Rokem, J. Weiss, C. and Miodownik, D. (2018). Geographies of Violence in Jerusalem: The Spatial Logic of Urban Intergroup Conflict. Political Geography, 66: 88-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2018.08.008



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