From Multiculturalism to Superdiversity? Narratives of health and wellbeing in an urban neighbourhood

Charlotte Francesca Williams, Maša Mikola


The nature, speed and scale of contemporary migrations represent a major challenge for human services and for social work practice. The concept of ‘superdiversity’, to date largely used in European academic circles, signals a new complexity in the debates about how best to respond to need in migrant-related diversity. This paper draws on this concept to explore the implications for social work practice and for service delivery. It reports on a study undertaken with residents in one ‘superdiverse’ neighbourhood in Melbourne, Australia. Utilising the superdiversity lens, this paper explores three key propositions of the superdiversity thesis namely: diversification, locality, and the need to shift beyond ethno-focal based approaches in service delivery models. The study finds considerable support for the added value of using a superdiversity lens to inform responses to need in migrant neighbourhoods but signals cautionary notes on the wholesale adoption of the superdiversity perspective, noting the significance of co-ethnic tracks in help-seeking behaviour.

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Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory

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