From Multiculturalism to Superdiversity? Narratives of health and wellbeing in an urban neighbourhood


  • Charlotte Francesca Williams RMIT University, Melbourne.
  • Maša Mikola RMIT University, Melbourne and the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health.


The nature, speed and scale of contemporary migrations represent a major challenge for human services and for social work practice. The concept of ‘superdiversity’, to date largely used in European academic circles, signals a new complexity in the debates about how best to respond to need in migrant-related diversity. This paper draws on this concept to explore the implications for social work practice and for service delivery. It reports on a study undertaken with residents in one ‘superdiverse’ neighbourhood in Melbourne, Australia. Utilising the superdiversity lens, this paper explores three key propositions of the superdiversity thesis namely: diversification, locality, and the need to shift beyond ethno-focal based approaches in service delivery models. The study finds considerable support for the added value of using a superdiversity lens to inform responses to need in migrant neighbourhoods but signals cautionary notes on the wholesale adoption of the superdiversity perspective, noting the significance of co-ethnic tracks in help-seeking behaviour.

Author Biographies

Charlotte Francesca Williams, RMIT University, Melbourne.

Professor and Deputy Dean Social Work

Maša Mikola, RMIT University, Melbourne and the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health.

Research Assistant and MSW student


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