“The Downside of Diversity” -Harvard Professor

When I think about  the word diversity, I associate only positive words and actions to the word. I think about how diversity can bring several solutions to solving a problem. I think about how diversity is a civic strength. Multicultural festivals promote intermingling that says, Our differences make us stronger.”

But maybe that’s just me….because a huge study that surveyed 30,000 people from all across the United States says differently. In 2007, Harvard political scientist Dr. Robert Putnam asked US people from across America how diversity makes them feel as a citizen. The answer may surprise you: The more diverse a town, the LESS LIKELY citizens were to vote, volunteer, give to charity, and participate in community projects. 

I was actually blown away by these findings; how could they be accurate? Weren’t we always raised to find diversity interesting and inviting? Don’t colleges advocate a multicultural community? Diversity is a GOOD thing remember? Or is it…? Check out The Boston Globe article here.



The study went on to say that people who lived in neighborhoods that were diverse were half as likely to trust their neighbors than those people who lived in “homogeneous” neighborhoods.

After this study was published in 2007, the political science community was in an uproar. Conservatives interpreted the findings as immigration was have a profoundly negative effect on American neighborhoods. But years later in 2015, we’ve only diversified more as a nation. What does this mean for the climate of our future? ??

Before I go on, I should say that when I first heard all of these allegations towards the results of this study, I was shocked! How do people think that diversity is a bad thing to have in America? In fact, isn’t it COOL when you meet someone who has a mixed background, and is different from you? We’re the melting pot! The salad bowl! Whatever you want to call it; America has always taken pride in being culturally diverse…until I thought about recent events

2014 was quite a year for diversity. And by that, I mean it didn’t necessarily bring us closer together…

How could we forget Ferguson. I don’t know about you, but I was EMBARRASSED as an American that we are still fighting over racial tensions. When will we overcome?

Ferguson had been a preliminary white neighborhood up until the 1980’s when the community of African Americans begun to grow. Since then, racial tensions had been building in the town.

After white police officer Darren Wilson reportedly shot and killed African America Michael Brown, all the tension in the town exploded. Claims were made that the only reason Officer Wilson killed Brown was not because he was doing something illegal–but because of the color of his skin.

Later, after there was no indictment of Officer Wilson in the Brown v. Ferguson, MO trial, the community was in unrest. People took to the streets and vandalized public and state buildings to show their dislike.

So what do you guys think?? Do you believe in the study I talked about earlier? Do you think it is valid based off the year’s events in 2014? Why or why not?

2 thoughts on ““The Downside of Diversity” -Harvard Professor

  1. Apurva Bhogale

    I kind of noticed what the harvard professor is talking about, but I could never put my finger on it exactly. I kind of explored this in my last CI post. I discussed “multipluralism”, which is the existence of a lot cultures who don’t necessarily interact. I can understand why those in a very diverse community would not to engage with each other, because there is no inherent form of trust between the community members. However, I think the real problem here is that people’s automatic conscience tells them to be wary of those who do not fit within their own culture. The Harvard professors observations are correct, but it seems he posed no solution to solve them, or maybe he didn’t even recognize the real problem. when you said you were ashamed to be an America when the whole Ferguson ordeal was going on, I agree. The worst part of it was, I blogged about it, and there were students in my RCL class in my blogging group, (actually someone I’ve been friends with for years), who disagreed with me! There is a problem, and it must be addressed, but I don’t think the harvard study points out what the REAL problem is.

  2. Taylor Marie Peterson

    It’s hard to judge whether or not the study is valid. I feel like the study itself might be a little misleading. I can see why people would feel more comfortable in a place where they feel they are culturally linked to one another. Humans naturally are more comfortable when surrounded by what they know, what is familiar. I don’t think that necessarily means that Americans find diversity to be a bad thing. Clearly we are only continuing to diversify as the years go by.

    I really liked this perspective on multiculturalism. Totally an aspect I had never considered.

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