The Max Planck Institute have published an interview they did with me in 2014:
Interview with Ben Gidley (COMPAS, University of Oxford)
B: What does ‘diversity’ mean to you by way of your work and field of expertise?
G: I’m primarily an urban researcher. I research cities and city neighborhoods and social life in cities. So it’s both an inescapable fact of city life in Britain and everywhere and an interest of mine is the fact of diversity, the everyday lived reality of diversity – not diversity as policy or as philosophical orientation but just this sheer facticity of mixedness and living together, what we might call multiculture or multicultural drift. When I think of diversity my bias, the lens that I tend to bring to it, is probably more of an ethnic lens, although I understand intellectually that diversity is really about lots of different axes of difference, but the axis of difference which has to do with ethnicity and migration is the one that I tend to think of first.
B: Is ‘diversity’ just a Zeitgeist term – a post-multiculturalism policy catch phrase (as in ‘integration and diversity’ policy), a corporate tool (as in ‘diversity management’), or can it be a concept that can help structure and advance social scientific analysis?
G: I think that the way it has become a Zeitgeist term is a danger and a concern. I recently heard a quite senior German official talking about a school. She said there was one person from a classroom ‘from a diverse background’ and I thought that was quite shocking that she was able to use the word ‘diverse’, which is about difference, to refer to the one person that she saw as different . It seemed extraordinary to me. So there is a huge danger. I think the fashionable currency of the term has some advantages as well though. For example, the Council of Europe talk about ‘the diversity advantage’: intercultural cities or diverse firms having a competitive advantage due to demographic diversity, and some businesses have taken up this language. However, I think that if used well, diversity is a concept that certainly can structure and advance social scientific analysis. The danger in social science is the way that diversity can obscure inequality. Class for example is a cleavage that is harder to fit into a diversity lens than other cleavages such as ethnicity.