People use both heterogeneity and minority representation to evaluate diversity

Speaker: Maria Abascal

New York University

This event is part of the Sociology Seminar Series, which will take place online throughout Michaelmas Term 2020.

Abstract: The term “diversity,” though widely used, can mean different things. Diversity can refer to heterogeneity, i.e., the distribution of people across groups, or to the representation of specific minority groups. We use a conjoint experiment with a race-stratified, national sample to uncover which properties—heterogeneity or minority representation—Americans use to evaluate how racially diverse a neighborhood is and whether this varies by respondents’ race. We show that perceived diversity is strongly associated with heterogeneity. This association is stronger for Whites than for Blacks, Latinos, or Asians. In addition, Blacks, Latinos, and Asians view neighborhoods where their own group is largest as more diverse. Whites vary in their tendency to associate diversity with representation, and Whites who report conservative stances on diversity-related policy issues view predominately White neighborhoods as more diverse than predominately Black neighborhoods. People can agree that diversity is desirable while disagreeing on what makes a community diverse.

The Sociology Seminar Series for Trinity Term is convened by Christopher Barrie, Fangqi Wen and Tobias Ruttenauer. For more information about this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact