16 responses

  1. Cathy Goodwin
    June 19, 2011

    I forget which psychological researcher pointed out that people actually have better social lives in cities than we do in small towns and rural areas. Because cities have more people and greater diversity, you’re more likely to find people with common interests.

    Reply

    • Greg
      June 19, 2011

      Good point.

      Thanks Cathy.

      – Greg

      Reply

  2. Spiro Spiliadis
    June 19, 2011

    Living in Greece and Canada I can see how this applies, While I’m in Greece I feel more alive since there’s so many small diverse places to go, it’s just not one big city.

    Where in Canada, it’s almost forced to happen, if it happens at all…

    Reply

    • Greg
      June 19, 2011

      I’ve only been in Greece once, but I see what you mean.

      – Greg

      Reply

  3. Robert H.
    June 21, 2011

    Well… maybe.

    Plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    ********************************************
    http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/immigration-diversity-and-social-cohesion

    [snip – down the page]
    Does increased diversity undermine social cohesion? The evidence from the US suggests a negative relationship
    [snip]

    Most of the empirical literature on this subject finds that the relationship between diversity and trust is negative – the more diverse a community is, the less likely individuals in it are to be trusting. The trend seems to hold especially strong for the US. Costa and Khan (2003) established with the General Social Survey that people in more diverse neighbourhoods trust their neighbours less and are less likely to be politically or communally involved. Alesina and La Ferrara (2000, 2005) found that trust in general and more specifically interpersonal trust is lower in more racially heterogeneous communities in the US. Stolle et al. (2008) comparing US and Canada observed a strong negative effect of diversity on trust; however, they also found that contact may neutralize but not make this relationship positive. Most notably, Putnam (2007) argues that diversity seems to alienate people in general and in his words pushes them towards ‘hunkering down’ i.e. towards segregation and isolation.
    [snip]

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/05/the_downside_of_diversity/

    The downside of diversity
    A Harvard political scientist finds that diversity hurts civic life.

    IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

    But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam — famous for “Bowling Alone,” his 2000 book on declining civic engagement — has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings.

    “The extent of the effect is shocking,” says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.
    [snip]
    ********************************************

    I’m old enough to remember how the “diversity” mentioned for New York was a collection of *very* homogeneous ethnic neighborhoods with *intense* hatred in-between. And the most cooperative and “neighborly” place that I’ve ever heard of is also the most homogenous. Of course I’m speaking of Japan.

    (shrug)

    But maybe having your hated different neighbors a few streets over *is* an advantage, compared to the alternatives. Don’t know. And also the entrepreneurial efforts you’re mentioning here have traditionally had a high proportion of people where such matters have *always* been less important.

    Robert H.

    Reply

    • Greg
      June 21, 2011

      Robert,

      I’m not sure that I can agree with you on this one. As I understand it, your basic argument is that diversity lessens social cohesion, which seems true enough, but I don’t see how that speaks to my general point about cities and innovation.

      – Greg

      Reply

      • Robert H.
        June 21, 2011

        “I’m not sure that I can agree with you on this one. ”

        I don’t even agree with myself in that I don’t know what’s really true about these matters. Just counter examples of why great diversity makes a great/good place.

        “…don’t see how that speaks to my general point about cities and innovation.”

        Innovation, no. But cooperative endeavors is what my evidence is about. Or even “livability” of the environment where those endeavors are supposed to happen. Like the remark above about ““When a place gets boring, even the rich people leave.” ” Well, when people are killing each other (either in reality or metaphorically) then I’m not sure it’s a good environment for cooperative ventures.

        But that’s where I was waffling at the end. I’m not so sure if those qualities for a better “living” environment are necessary for your examples of “innovation”. It’s just that with the “positive” quoted benefits for diversity I thought I’d throw in the [recent] data for some of the problems.

        Don’t know which matters more. The relative importance probably differs place to place.

        Robert H.

        Reply

      • Robert H.
        June 21, 2011

        Thinking about it further, maybe the ‘granularity’ of the diversity is the key. Too much at the local level seems (if you can believe those recent studies) to be a problem but that local a level is a fairly recent development.

        Thinking about it I remembered back when I was younger there was a popular theory (anthropology? sociology?) that ‘genius’ was produced from a heterogeneous collection of groups. (I forget what the homogenous groups produced, empires?) The examples used were the city-states of early Greece such as Athens and Sparta, *very* hard to become a citizen if you weren’t one => intensely homogeneous as a city-state. *And* intensely antagonistic/contemptuous of the other city-states. And they produced more works of genius than the much larger Empires of the day (0r most any other day). The other example was the city-states of Italy during the Renaissance. The same environment, the same expression of genius.

        So, diversity *and* homogeneity inter-playing at different scales.

        [shrug]

        Don’t know.

        Robert H.

        Reply

      • Greg
        June 21, 2011

        Robert,

        It’s an interesting point, especially in light of Thomas Schelling’s models of racial segregation where a little bit of preference toward homogeneity can gentrify a society (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Schelling). So perceptions of identity can in itself create segregation (i.e. news media, tea partiers vs. RINO’s etc.).

        Athens and Sparta are an interesting case actually. Athens was a free society where Sparta was very militaristic and regimented. The intellectual activity was really centered in Athens. However, the prominent thinker of the time, Plato, thought Athens should model their society on Sparta – a bit ironic.

        – Greg

        Reply

      • Greg
        June 21, 2011

        Robert,

        It doesn’t really seem like we have any disagreement here.

        – Greg

        Reply

      • Robert H.
        June 21, 2011

        Don’t have a reply link under your answer/post so have to do it here.

        You said: “Athens was a free society where Sparta was very militaristic and regimented. The intellectual activity was really centered in Athens. ”

        Yes, it was [relatively speaking] free but *only* if you were an Athenian. You couldn’t join if you weren’t. Pericles, the great Man of Athens, created the law that only people with both parents Athenian could be citizens. There had to be a special exemption made for his son with Aspasia just before his death.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericles_the_Younger

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericles

        So intense isolation of the in-group with hostility/aggression to those other groups ‘outside’.

        Robert H.

        Reply

      • Greg
        June 21, 2011

        Yes, that’s true, but it was still extremely free and democratic with respect to the times. You could make similar arguments in reference to the founding fathers of the USA.

        – Greg

        Reply

  4. HearSay Chatter Blog
    June 22, 2011

    I would just love to live in New York; my city is boring, uninteresting and people here are just plain un inventive. Alas! that is why we have television and the internet. Thanks for the post. ONe of my ul-time fav movies.

    Reply

    • Greg
      June 22, 2011

      Glad you liked it.

      – Greg

      Reply

  5. Irene
    June 23, 2011

    LOL! so true about Ukraine!! reminds me about my friends – economics graduates from Kyiv Mohyla Academy 🙂
    starting full-time salary is bigger now – about $500, but still it’s easy to hire smart young people

    Reply

    • Greg
      June 23, 2011

      Yes. Excellent people in Ukraine. Government…not so much:-)

      – Greg

      Reply

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