New research shows growing impact of religion on East London

By staff writers
September 5, 2007

New research published by academics based at the University of East London indicates that the demographic patterns in Britain's capital are in some cases shaped more by religious and cultural identity than by categories of race and ethnicity.

The research includes maps which illustrate how London has become, among other thins, a patchwork of religious communities. In some areas minority faith communities (Muslim and Jewish in particular) now make up a significant majority. However the diversity across the capital is considerable.

Encouragingly, just 3% of London's seven million residents live in areas which can be categorised as racially segregated. But around a quarter live in neighbourhoods where there is a high degree of religious homogeneity - which can pose challenges for wider integration.

However, mapping religion is a notoriously difficult exercise, with patterns of allegiance and conviction varying considerably within what may be denoted as 'one religion'.

Researchers are also therefore interested in cultural factors and elements of social mixing in the workplace and elsewhere.

University of East London researchers have also been involved in the publication of Directories of Religious Organisations in Newham and neighbouring boroughs, showing the growing significance of faith communities across East London.

Academic Greg Smith argues that religion represents a resource for many people in terms of cultural identity and social capital. Demographic mapping is not enough to understand what is going on.

The implications of the complex cultural, sociological, ethic and religious profile of the area is regularly followed in RISING EAST, The Journal of East London Studies.

The University of East London invests heavily in vocational training and community partnerships, and also aims to make a "contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship."

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