Understanding the context of racial and cultural exclusivism: A study of Melbourne neighbourhoods

Led by MMIC Director, Associate Professor Rebecca Wickes, with colleagues from Deakin University, Australian Catholic University and the Australian Multicultural Foundation, this project resulted in the report ‘Understanding the context of racial and cultural exclusivism: A study of Melbourne neighbourhoods’. The report presents findings from a large scale study that examined the neighbourhood and individual drivers of social exclusivism including harmful sentiments, attitudes and actions towards minorities across 140 neighbourhoods in Greater Melbourne. The project was funded by the Victorian Government Research Institute on Social Cohesion.

A key goal of this research was to better understand the ways in which the local neighbourhood context encourages or prevents the development of exclusivist sentiments, attitudes and endorsement of actions that seek to exclude migrants, especially in areas experiencing significant changes in the ethnic composition. This involved identifying the specific characteristics of the local context that distinguish areas with higher levels of socially harmful exclusivism from those with lower levels.

The results of the study were striking. The research team found that a sizeable minority of responded reported low warmth and high anger towards Muslim, African and Middle Eastern people. However, an individual’s own sense of community belonging was a strong protective factor against holding socially exclusive sentiments and attitudes. Findings also revealed that increasing diversity in some areas was associated with more positive attitudes and actions towards migrants, whereas economic disadvantage heightened participants endorsement of exclusionary attitudes. All of this strongly points to the significance of place based solutions to promote social cohesion in Australia and the need for careful urban planning to develop and maintain a welcoming social and physical infrastructure.

The full report is available here. The Executive Summary is available here.

Research Team:

Associate Professor Rebecca Wickes - Chief Investigator
Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre
Monash University

Prof Michele Grossman
Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation
Deakin University

Dr Helen Forbes-Mewett
Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre
Monash University

Associate Professor Dharma Arunachalum,
Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre
Monash University

Dr Jonathan Smith
Australian Catholic University

Prof Zlatko Skrbis
Australian Catholic University

Dr Hass Dellal
Australia Multicultural Foundation

Chloe Keel,
Monash Migration and Inclusion Centre
Monash University

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