Encountering difference in the workplace: Superficial contact, underlying tensions and group rights

Catherine Harris, Gill Valentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Employment, demographic, cultural, and legal changes in Europe over the past 40 years have brought unprecedented numbers of minority groups into organisations at all levels, and research suggests that most workplaces are likely to become even more diverse in the future. While much attention has been paid to negative experiences of minorities in the workplace, it also has the potential to be an important site of prejudice reduction. In response, drawing on original quantitative and qualitative data, this article explores the encounters of socially different groups in the workplace. It demonstrates that workplaces can promote meaningful encounters. However, cases of positive encounter with difference were often discussed at the level of the individual, with reference to specific people and friendships, rather than towards the minority group to which the individual belonged. As such, these positive encounters were often superficial with underlying tensions still existing between different groups in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-595
Number of pages13
JournalTijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie
Issue number5
Early online date15 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2016


  • Encounters
  • equality
  • prejudice
  • workplace
  • qualitative
  • UK


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