Are Migrants City-Takers or Makers?

This is episode one of our course Six Impossible Ideas (after Brexit). For this series, we’ve teamed up with six researchers from the London School of Economics, each offering a compelling take on one seemingly impossible idea.

What is a seemingly impossible idea, you ask? We’ve challenged each of our lecturers to propose an idea about migration that appears self-evident to them but is missing, misunderstood, or misinterpreted in public conversation.

To receive the full series right to your inbox, sign up for this course on our website.


Part 1/6 from Six Impossible Ideas (after Brexit)

Meet Suzi Hall, an architect-ethnographer and Director of the LSE Cities programme, who studies the inner workings of multi-ethnic streets in five British cities. Suzi took us to a super-diverse street in South London, Peckham’s Rye Lane, where proprietors from more than 20 countries run their businesses on the 10-min long stretch.

We asked Suzi what we can learn from Rye Lane, in terms of how migrants get on the job ladder, what streets like this mean for the economy, and what we can learn about the ways migration shapes modern cities.

What can an ordinary street tell us about modern diversity?

Why is Rye Lane important for the economy?

From Rye Lane to the big picture

Recommended Reading

Check out Suzi’s ethnographic study on Rye Lane and the street’s economic and cultural life.

See exactly where Rye Lane’s shop proprietors come from, a map that reflects UK’s history and relationship with the world. You can also see maps for diverse streets in four other cities from a follow-up study here.

IOM has recently launched a report that shows how migration is shaping cities worldwide.

Suzi Hall

Suzi is Director of the Cities Programme in the Department of Sociology and Senior Research Associate at LSE Cities at LSE. For the past nine years her work has focused on high streets in marginalised parts of cities across the UK, spanning Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester, London, and Manchester. Suzi’s research encompasses the global processes of migration and urbanisation that continue to shape UK Cities, and explores how the structures of inequality and racism intersect with everyday practices of resistance and city-making. She is currently working on an ESRC research project on Super-diverse Streets: Economies and spaces of urban migration in UK Cities.

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You should also sign up for our newest course, A Migrant’s View, here. It’s a bit different than our other courses, focussing on both research about so-called “origin countries” (where migrants and refugees come from) and stories of arrival, waiting, and return. By signing up for our newsletter on our site, you’ll be the first to know which courses we’ll be releasing next (trust us, there will be more).

What is Migration Matters?

Migration Matters was founded in January 2016 to address the public’s biggest conundrums and fears surrounding migration and the so-called refugee crisis.

Our free video-based courses break down commonly held preconceptions about migration and offer nuanced and solution-oriented perspectives from leading thinkers in the field: researchers, practitioners, as well as migrants and refugees themselves.

Find out more »