'All the people speak bad English': Coping with language differences in a super-diverse context.

Research output: Working paper


In recent years, there has been a surge in studies on immigration-related diversity and, more specifically, super-diversity. This paper gives an overview of recent academic debates on encounters in super-diverse urban contexts, drawing on theories which have focused on interactional principles in such urban spaces. These include the notion of ‘civility’ as well as theories which look at cosmopolitanism in its everyday practice. Drawing on an ethnographic study undertaken by the author in the London Borough of Hackney, the paper presents examples of how language differences are skilfully bridged in public-space social interactions, for example at markets or in shops. The paper also shows how language differentially influences the kinds of social relations people form when it comes to more intimate social relations, and how knowledge of English as well as cultural capital shape the way in which both long-term residents and newcomers form such closer social relations.


Original languageEnglish
PublisherInstitute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), University of Birmingham
Volume2015, No. 9
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameIRiS Working Paper Series: Reimagining society in the age of superdiversity
PublisherInstitute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS), University of Birmingham


  • Super-diversity , commonplace diversity , social relations , social milieus , language