Submitting InstitutionSheffield Hallam University
Unit of AssessmentArchitecture, Built Environment and Planning
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Demography, Policy and Administration
Summary of the impact
Community cohesion emerged as a distinct policy agenda in the aftermath
of the 2001 disturbances in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham and was
subsequently shaped by events including the London bombings of 2005 and
large-scale migration from the EU and beyond. Researchers in the Centre
for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) have delivered a
programme of research and evaluation exploring cohesion and the
effectiveness of service responses. Beneficiaries have included government
departments, devolved administrations and other local, regional and
national public agencies. Awareness and understanding have been
sensitised, lessons learnt have informed strategy, and guidance has
directed improvements in practice.
Underpinning research was developed between 2002 and 2013 through awards
and publications; the team published seven refereed journal papers, nine
book chapters, and 11 research reports, whilst making 22 presentations to
academic conferences and policy forums. This research was supported by 13
research grants secured from research councils, charities and government
bodies. All research was undertaken in CRESR. The grant holder for all
projects was Robinson (1997-present, Professor since 2005). Other Category
A staff involved were Casey (2004-present, Senior Lecturer), Flint
(Professor, left for University of Sheffield 2011), Platts-Fowler
(Research Fellow, left for University of Leeds 2012), Reeve (2000-present,
Senior Research Fellow) and Wilson (2004-present, Research Fellow).
Research has focused on two related themes: policy understanding and
implementation of the cohesion agenda; and migration and cohesion.
First, research has addressed the question of how policy is interpreting
and implementing the cohesion agenda (Refs 1, 2, 3; Grants 1, 2, 4,
6, 9, 10). The underpinning body of research includes the first ever study
exploring links between community cohesion and housing (G1). This study
examined understandings and interpretations of the agenda among
practitioners in England through semi-structured interviews and a cohesion
impact assessment of policy and practice across the social rented sector.
These findings provided the basis for original analysis exploring the
rationale, understandings and implementation of the cohesion agenda in
England (Ref 1). The fundamental pillars that the agenda was built on were
identified and subject to scrutiny for the first time. A reliance on
contested notions of community and multiculturalism and presumptions about
the motives and behaviours of certain groups in society was revealed,
raising critical questions about the policy programme, thus scoping a new
academic research agenda. The means and mechanisms through which agencies
can promote cohesion were disclosed and factors with the potential to
undermine positive outcomes detailed (Ref 1, 2). This underpinning body of
research also includes the first study exploring predictors of community
cohesion among young people (Ref 3). This involved statistical modelling
of data from the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England to fill a
gap in knowledge about factors informing variations in cohesion among
young people, as part of which new measures of cohesion were developed.
Predictors of cohesion among young people were found to overlap with those
within the adult population (deprivation, perceptions of crime), but to
also include distinctive features relating to social and ethnic mix within
school populations, and the individual situations of young people.
Second, a specific strand of analysis focusing on migration and
cohesion emerged from this portfolio of research on cohesion.
Migration emerged as a key factor informing cohesion at the local level.
Dominant discourses served to pit migrants against British citizens, thus
working to raise community tensions. Research ventured beyond this
stereotyping and scape-goating to expose the experiences and consequences
of migration for new and settled populations and for community relations.
This included a focus on the frequently debated issue of access to housing
for new immigrants (Refs 4, 5 and Grants 5, 7, 8). Analysis highlighted
how the rapid pace of change driven by new migration posed real challenges
for the housing system, but also revealed moral panics surrounding migrant
access to social housing had little or no association with a clear,
apparent and rational threat (Ref 5). Indeed, the first exploration of
housing pathways for new migrants revealed that, far from being skilled
players of the British welfare state, migrants were frequently unaware of
possibilities provided by the social rented sector (Ref 4). This strand of
work also involved a leading contribution to efforts designed to fill gaps
in knowledge and understanding about the local effects of new migration.
Robinson and Reeve authored the first review of the evidence base on
neighbourhood experiences of new immigration for the Joseph Rowntree
Foundation (Grant 3). Subsequently, a programme of work explored the
integration of new migrants in the UK, through in-depth, qualitative
analysis of migration experiences and an evaluation of initiatives
promoting integration (Grants 8, 9, 11). Drawing on these empirical
insights, a conceptual framework was developed to support explorations
into the neighbourhood effects of new immigration (Ref 6). This approach
recognised that migration could be a driver of change at the local level,
but its consequences were often more complex and varied than commonly
assumed, not least because place both informed, and was in turn influenced
by, new immigration.
References to the research
Ref 1. Robinson, D. (2005) The search for community cohesion: key themes
and dominant concepts of the public policy agenda. Urban Studies, 42, (8),
1411-1428. Highly cited peer reviewed article (100 citations, Google
Scholar 18/10/13) DOI: 10.1080/00420980500150755.
Ref 2. Flint, J. and Robinson, D. (2008) (eds.) Community Cohesion in
Crisis? New Dimensions of Diversity and Difference. Bristol: Policy Press.
Highly cited collected volume (102 citations to chapters, Google Scholar,
18/10/13); key reference point for further research.
Ref 3. Demack, S., Platts Fowler, D., Robinson, D., Stevens, A. and
Wilson, I (2010) Young People and Community Cohesion. London: Department
for Education. End of grant report, peer reviewed, published by DfE.
Ref 5. Robinson, D. (2010) New Immigrants and Migrants in social housing
in Britain: discursive themes and lived realities. Policy and Politics,
38, 1, 57-77. Peer reviewed journal paper (11 citations, Google Scholar
Ref 6. Robinson, D. (2010) Neighbourhood effects of new immigration.
Environment and Planning A, 42, 10, 2451-2466. Peer reviewed journal paper
presenting a conceptual framework to support analysis of the place effects
of new migration (12 citations, Google Scholar 18/10/13).
Key research awards (Robinson PI on all grants, unless otherwise stated):
G1. 2002-2004: Delivering Housing Services to Support Community Cohesion,
Chartered Institute of Housing/Housing Corporation. (£52,000).
G2. 2003-2004: Housing and Community Cohesion in New Deal for Communities
Areas, Neighbourhood Renewal Unit. (£15,000).
G3. 2004-2005: The Experiences and Consequences of New Immigration at the
Neighbourhood Level, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. (£13,500)
G4. 2005-2007: Housing and Cohesion in the Bridging NewcastleGateshead
Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder, Gateshead Council (£24,000).
G5. 2006-2006: The Housing Pathways of New Migrants, Joseph Rowntree
G6. 2006-2007: Housing Market Renewal and Community Cohesion. Department
of Communities and Local Government (£12,000).
G7. 2008-2008: New Immigrants and Migrants in Social Housing in England,
Local Government Association (£3,000).
G8. 2008-2010: Neighbourhood, Community and Housing in Bradford
(£69,800); PI: University of Leeds.
G9. 2009-2011: Integration and Cohesion - evaluation of Projects Funded
by the European Integration Fund and European Refugee Fund, UKBA
G10. 2010-2012: Evaluation of the National Community Cohesion Strategy
for Wales, Welsh Government. (£90,000).
G11. 2011-2011: New Immigration, Community Change and Conflict, Arts and
Humanities Research Council (£26,500).
Details of the impact
Research insights impacted on policy within the two themes outlined in
Section 2. Key beneficiaries were central government, devolved
administrations and other regional and local agencies. First, knowledge
regarding the rationales and challenges of implementing the cohesion
agenda and an understanding of factors limiting its effectiveness
(Refs 1, 2), informed a series of evaluations and the provision of
advice and guidance to policy. An evaluation of the role of housing
in promoting community cohesion as part of the National Evaluation of
Housing Market Renewal (2009), explored Pathfinder approaches to
mainstreaming cohesion, which revealed a lack of understanding about what
community cohesion was and what Pathfinders should be aspiring to achieve.
In response, recommendations and guidance on good practice were provided,
and fed back to Pathfinders through personal communication in a bid to
prompt improvements in policy and practice. In turn these were
disseminated nationally in a Department for Communities and Local
Government (DCLG) published report (Housing Renewal and Community
Cohesion, 2009), which secured coverage in the professional press (Inside
Housing 28/10/09, Regeneration and Renewal 2/11/09). Subsequently,
Robinson and colleagues were commissioned by the Bridging Newcastle
Gateshead (BNG) Pathfinder to conduct research and to develop a strategy
for promoting cohesion in meeting housing needs through housing market
renewal (G4). Delivery of this contract involved the provision of advice
to BNG officers on an on-going basis about how to open up new housing
opportunities to different ethnic groups and to manage the cohesion
challenges that might ensue. In a report to the Audit Commission, the
strategy produced by CRESR was credited by BNG with helping to ensure that
housing market renewal responded to the needs of all groups within the
pathfinder area and in promoting cohesion (S6).
Research insights also enhanced development and delivery of the Welsh
Government's community cohesion strategy. Robinson and colleagues were
commissioned to evaluate the national cohesion strategy for Wales (G10).
Regular feedback, recommendations and guidance were provided to civil
servants in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Division during the two
years of the evaluation through numerous feedback and briefing sessions at
Welsh Government offices. Recommendations directly informed Ministerial
decisions about the future direction of policy. For example, the
evaluation raised concerns about a lack of strategic thinking and limited
attention to mainstreaming among local authorities. In response, the Welsh
Government promoted the development of local strategies and funded the
appointment of a network of dedicated cohesion officers across Wales
charged with promoting collaborative working and in mainstreaming the
cohesion agenda (S1). CRESR was also commissioned to author guidance on
mainstreaming cohesion for local authorities, which was published by the
Welsh Government (S8). As part of the evaluation of the national strategy,
the CRESR team also provided the Welsh Government with detailed advice
about how to measure cohesion and specific advice regarding cohesion
questions to be included in the Living in Wales survey. Robinson also
authored guidance on community profiling and tension monitoring, designed
to enhance the practice of local authorities in Wales. This was launched
by the Minister in 2011, forwarded to all local authorities in a bid to
support good practice, and made available as a free download on the Welsh
Government's website (S8). This built on research exploring determinants
of community relations in the context of new migration (G11), and applied
research testing techniques for promoting engagement between long-
standing and newly arrived residents in Bradford (G8). The impact of this
work is confirmed by the comment from a senior civil servant in the Fairer
Futures Division of Welsh Government that this body of work was "influential
in the development of a model in Wales of Regional Community Cohesion
Co-ordinators...to mainstream work on community cohesion. Further
recommendations from the evaluation have ensured that there is a key
focus on the delivery of community cohesion in Wales, where a renewed
action plan is being developed in 2013. The guidance has ensured that
Co-ordinators are delivering work consistently, with coverage across all
22 local authorities in Wales" (S1).
Second, research insights played an important role in informing the
terms and influencing popular and political perspectives about one
of the most divisive issues associated with new migration: access to
social housing. Empirical insights into the housing experiences of
new migrants (Refs 4,5) and quantitative analysis of the profile of A8
migrants in social housing in England (S5), were referenced in a report on
housing allocations to the Migration Impacts Forum (2008), a government
convened group exploring the local level impacts of migration. The
professional journal 'Inside Housing' drew on these findings to challenge
comments by the Margaret Hodge MP about migrants living in social housing
(S6). Subsequently, Robinson was commissioned by the Local Government
Association (LGA) to deliver one of three pieces of analysis examining
whether there was any validity in the contention that recent migrants had
received preferential treatment in social housing allocations (S7). This
evidence informed the letter subsequently sent by the LGA to all local
authority chief executives in England clarifying the facts about the
allocation of housing to migrants (08/04/08). Research in the field also
led to invitations to briefings and presentations challenging thinking and
policy. Examples include briefings to: civil servants in DCLG and the Home
Office (30/01/08); practitioners and policy officers from local
authorities on the Yorkshire Migration Partnership (25/03/11); and the
first meeting of the Housing and Migration Network, which brought together
policy makers and practitioners to develop ideas for improving the housing
of refugees and new migrants (15/10/09).
Findings emerging from five evaluation reports (2010-2012) into the
effectiveness and efficiencies of local and national initiatives
supporting the integration of refugees (G9), helped the Home Office to
deliver on its obligation to evaluate and to learn from, European Refugee
Fund and European Integration Fund initiatives and to share such insights
with other EU states (S2). Key insights from research also informed Home
Office understanding of the impacts of migration and options for
monitoring these effects through Robinson's membership of a Home Office
expert panel on the impacts of migration on public services in England
(2012). Other contributions include a presentation on the local impacts of
migration to an invited audience of 30+ government policy makers, civil
servants and voluntary and community sector interests, as part of the
Westminster Breakfast Briefings series on migration convened by the
University of Oxford, discussing topical, cutting edge research on
migration related issues (22/06/12). In 2013, Robinson was recruited to
provide expertise on housing, migration and cohesion to the Homes and
Communities Agency's (HCA's) Equalities and Diversity Advisory Group,
which advises and challenges the HCA on all aspects of its work.
Sources to corroborate the impact
S1. Individual user able to collaborate claims: Equality, Diversity and
Inclusion Division, Welsh Government.
S2. Individual user able to collaborate claims: Home Office Science:
Migration and Border Analysis,
S3. The final report of the Welsh Government evaluation is available at:
S4. See pages 20 and 24 of Audit Commission report http://archive.audit-commission.gov.uk/auditcommission/SiteCollectionDocuments/Downloads/BridgingNewcastleGatesheadMarketRenewalJun07.pdf
S5. See http://extra.shu.ac.uk/ppp-online/european-union-accession-state-migrants-in-social-housing-in-england/
S6 See http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/%E2%80%98no-evidence-that-migrants-snatch-social-housing/
S7. Details of LGA analysis can be found at http://www.local.gov.uk/web/guest/local-government-intelligence/-/journal_content/56/10180/2824813/ARTICLE.
The CRESR LGA review is lodged at
S8. For mainstreaming guidance and community profiling guidance see