study seeks cause of 'divided communities'
most extensive survey of housing patterns amongst the
Asian communities of Leeds and Bradford is being undertaken
by geography researchers at the University of Leeds. Deborah
Phillips and Rachael Unsworth (pictured left
r-l) aim to identify the motivations and aspirations
of the Asian population with regard to housing.
Phillips said: "Following the riots last summer,
both the press and politicians talked about 'divided worlds'
and 'communities living in parallel'. Segregation does
exist, where people live and are schooled, but this was
painted as a completely negative phenomenon, with the
Asian communities accused of not wanting to integrate.
fact, our initial findings show that most Asian households
would be happy to live in mixed communities, but are prevented
from doing so by poverty, discrimination in housing institutions
and fear of racial harassment."
researchers have found that discrimination still exists,
amongst estate agents, council housing officials and housing
associations, who tend to 'steer' whites to white areas
and Asians to Asian areas, reinforcing the segregation.
This was despite the fact that on the questionnaires,
Asian households said they had no reticence to 'mixing',
in schools or communities, and in fact saw living in a
mixed area as a positive option, although there was a
fear of racial harassment and isolation if the area had
few other Asian households.
are also positive reasons for wanting to remain within
a certain community, such as the cultural or family support
and religious provision it provides, and this isn't always
evidence of an unwillingness to mix, as Dr Phillips explains:
"Although having certain Asian or white areas is
seen as automatically negative, it's actually quite common
for groups to congregate together. This happens already
on the basis of class, as well as ethnicity. What causes
the problem is when these areas become run-down and deprived,
and households are financially unable to move to better
researchers have talked to focus groups within the Asian
communities, carried out interviews with community members,
estate agents and housing officials from councils and
associations, and collected over 400 detailed questionnaires
from Asian households on their housing situation and aspirations.
They are analysing the census figures from 2001
the first to include information on religion and
have carried out a name analysis on the electoral registers
from 1991, to plot the movement of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh
households over the last 10 years.
results of the ESRC-funded project are to be published
in the autumn, when researchers will first make them public
to the communities who took part in the study.