“Because the World Consists of Everybody”: Understanding Parents’ Preferences for Neighborhood Diversity

Jennifer Darrah-Okike, Hope Harvey, Kelley Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research, primarily using survey data, highlights preferences about neighborhood racial composition as a potential contributor to residential segregation. However, we know little about how individuals, especially parents, understand neighborhood racial composition. We examine this question using in-depth interview data from a racially diverse sample of 156 parents of young children in two metropolitan areas. Prior scholarship on neighborhood racial preferences has mostly been animated by expectations about in-group attraction, out-group avoidance, the influence of stereotypes, and perceived associations between race and status. However, we find that a substantial subset of parents expressed a desire for racially and ethnically mixed neighborhoods—a residential preference at odds with racial segregation. Parents across race conceptualized neighborhood diversity as beneficial for children's development. They expressed shared logics, reasoning that neighborhood diversity cultivates skills and comfort interacting with racial others; teaches tolerance; and provides cultural enrichment. However, these ideas intersected with racial segregation and stratification to shape parents’ understandings of diversity and hinder the realization of parents’ aspirations. Beliefs about the benefits of neighborhood diversity were rarely a primary motivation for residential choices. Nonetheless, parents’ perceptions of the advantages of neighborhood racial mixing reveal the reach of discourse on the value of diversity and suggest a potential opportunity to advance residential desegregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-397
Number of pages24
JournalCity and Community
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Stefanie DeLuca and Kathryn Edin, principal investigators of the How Parents House Kids project, for making this research possible and for their generous guidance and mentorship. The authors thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for generous support of the study. The authors are grateful to the project interviewing team: Asad Asad, Monica Bell, Melody Boyd, Brielle Bryan, Sophie Damas, Hilario Dominguez, Kaitlin Edin-Nelson, Jennifer Ferentz, Philip Garboden, Meredith Greif, Barbara Kiviat, Holly Howell Koogler, Margot Moinester, Ann Owens, Kristin Perkins, Kathryn Reed, Anna Rhodes, Eva Rosen, Beth Schueler, Angela Simms, Elizabeth Talbert, Jessica Tollette, and Siri Warkentien; and to coders Carly Wais, Hanna Katz, and Allison Young. We are also grateful for helpful comments on previous drafts from Michael Bader, Junia Howell, and Steven Tuttle.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Stefanie DeLuca and Kathryn Edin, principal investigators of the How Parents House Kids project, for making this research possible and for their generous guidance and mentorship. The authors thank the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for generous support of the study. The authors are grateful to the project interviewing team: Asad Asad, Monica Bell, Melody Boyd, Brielle Bryan, Sophie Damas, Hilario Dominguez, Kaitlin Edin‐Nelson, Jennifer Ferentz, Philip Garboden, Meredith Greif, Barbara Kiviat, Holly Howell Koogler, Margot Moinester, Ann Owens, Kristin Perkins, Kathryn Reed, Anna Rhodes, Eva Rosen, Beth Schueler, Angela Simms, Elizabeth Talbert, Jessica Tollette, and Siri Warkentien; and to coders Carly Wais, Hanna Katz, and Allison Young. We are also grateful for helpful comments on previous drafts from Michael Bader, Junia Howell, and Steven Tuttle.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Sociological Association

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies

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