The overall ambition of the Leverhulme project is to crack environmental and socio-economic sustainability issues that plight so many cities. It’s a project that has many facets, so I have initially chosen to focus on socio-economic inequality and segregation.
Social exclusion occurs in many forms, from physical disability to race or political beliefs. The biggest obstacle to change is people often deny social exclusion is a genuine issue and instead tend to blame people for their own predicaments. Cultural stereotypes are perpetuated in the media and on the street and serve to label, target and oppress people.
We are doing a comparative analysis of different cities. We will start by collecting statistical data – evidence which is appealing to policy makers. Afterwards we will gather more qualitative data through ethnographic work and interviews.
This involves talking to different kinds of people in Nottingham as well as Stuttgart. Later, we hope to do fieldwork also in two Chinese cities which represent a totally different scale of a city, culture and population. In Europe, most people live in medium-sized cities of 500,000 inhabitants or less. Therefore Nottingham and Stuttgart are representative of the social reality for most Europeans today. Shanghai and Chengdu, our Chinese case studies, have populations of over 20 million and 14 million respectively.