Super-diversity and the prosperous society

This article asks if and under what conditions ethnic diversity could become the foundation for a prosperous society. Recent studies on ethnic diversity and social cohesion suggest that diversity has a negative effect on social cohesion and therefore is detrimental to the social prosperity of individuals and communities. This article argues that although such a negative correlation may apply to contexts with well-consolidated ethnic groups, it does not necessarily apply to ‘super-diverse’ places with multiple small ethnic groups and multiple social, legal and cultural differences that cut across ethnicity. Drawing on ethnographic material from East London, the authors contend that, in super-diverse places, ethnic diversity could become a valuable aspect of community life, while inequalities in social, cultural and symbolic capital become central points of social antagonism to the detriment of prosperity.