This project aims to observe and analyze social interaction between and within three racial and ethnic groups in an integrated neighborhood. By focusing on social relationships in an integrated neighborhood, we move beyond traditional studies of segregation research that use segregation indices, such as the dissimilarity index. Additionally, this study examines how the concept of social distance, which highlights social interaction between groups, may explain the quantity and quality of encounters between black, white, and Latino residents. This project will assess the social environment of an integrated neighborhood by documenting and questioning the attitudes, behaviors, and relationships of neighborhood residents. These data will be collected through neighborhood observations, in-depth interviews with residents, and a neighborhood-wide survey. Lastly, data will be analyzed using modified grounded theory, a process that uses data and existing theory to develop concepts and new theories (Charmaz 2006).

The proposed analysis addresses two major limitations of segregation research: two group comparisons (e.g. black-white) and Census data-based analyses (Ellen 1998). By studying neighborhood life in an integrated neighborhood through the proposed research design, this study highlights an element absent from cross-city comparisons: people. Furthermore, since this research is taking place in a new destination for Latino migration, it emphasizes the experience of recently migrated Latinos (Parrado and Flippen 2005). How Latino residents are incorporated and understood by their neighbors, as well as how migrants understand their own experiences inside this neighborhood are of particular interest. The recent arrival of Latin American migrants provides an opportunity to see how an area with an existing racial dynamic adjusts to the introduction of a new group (Kim 1999).

Additionally, Durham's population shifts from a biracial to a multi-ethnic city parallel demographic changes in other growing American cities. Studying this experience is essential to understanding the future of immigration and segregation in this country (Hirschman and Massey 2008:3).

Lastly, Federal programs like HOPE VI, a Public and Indian Housing program promoting mixed-income communities, follow in the tradition of sociological research on integration (US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Home and Communities; Wilson 1987) and may benefit from the proposed project's findings.

Broader Impact. This project will provide new and policy-relevant information on social life in an integrated neighborhood.

Project Report

Intellectual Merit This project had several major findings: 1-Residents of Creekridge Park moved into the target multiethnic neighborhood due to location, affordability, and neighborhood and house-based characteristics. 2-The set of descriptors most commonly used to describe the neighborhood were diverse/mixed/eclectic. I also identified 4 main ways that diverse was used: diversity as acceptance; diversity as status quo; diversity as commodity; diversity as liability. 3-Although there were instances of interracial friendship, most interracial relationships were marked by high social distance and White homeowner social control. I identified several established standards of behavior that facilitate these two processes. 4-Black and Latino/a residents were more likely to experience material gains and social costs when they moved to Creekridge Park. Overall, I discovered that social distance norms in multiethnic settings still reinforce racial stratification despite close proximity between racial groups. We, therefore, need to emphasize integration as a measure of quality of interracial interactions and relationships, not solely a marker of low spatial distance. Broader Impact The findings on the interracial dynamics of the target neighborhood were shared in presentations at national conferences and select universities. One of these presentations was also to a graduate student workshop, which emphasized the research process for rising scholars.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Saylor Breckenridge
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Duke University
United States
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