Politik på stadens skuggsida
Sammanfattning: Focusing on conditions in poor residential areas, this study examines how political en-gagement may be influenced by properties of the near environment. The casual relation-ships involved are known as ‘contextual effects’. Contextual effects are present when ag-gregate social or institutional characteristics affect individual attitudes and behaviour. The study of contextual effects enables a scientific assessment of the consequences of residential segregation. According to government commission reports, social-geographic polarisation in Sweden has led to increasingly discouraging situations in poor metropolitan areas. Furthermore, this spiral of decline is believed to encompass conditions for political engagement. Using survey data completed with neighbourhood data, this study shows that official con-cerns regarding poor areas is justified. The analysis shows that area unemployment rates (as an indication of poverty) have negative effects for political engagement. Thus, in this re-spect the social environment of poor areas seems to have detrimental consequences.Furthermore, potentially important differences between poor areas are analysed by ex-amining contextual effects of immigrant density. Unexpectedly, the analysis based on data from nine poor areas of Stockholm reveals significant positive effects of immigrant density on political efficacy. Thus, residents of the more immigrant dense poor areas tend to be more optimistic as they assess their possibilities for political influence. Further research suggests that this can be explained by local variations in government sponsored urban re-newal programs, aimed—above all—at empowering residents of poor areas.
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