Global Systems and Religious Diversity in the Inner City: Migrants in the East End of London

Greg Smith

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Abstract

Contemporary global economic, political and communications systems have led to unprecedented levels of migration from the South to metropolitan urban neighbourhoods in Europe, North America and Australasia. As a result, settlement patterns at the local level, though constrained by urban ecology, the local economic system and politically controlled systems of housing allocation, are often diverse mixtures of ethnic, linguistic and cultural groups. Existing religious institutions in such localities have needed to adapt to this new social reality, while new institutions have emerged to cater for unmet need, or exclusion from existing institutions. Religion has thus taken on a new public significance. Global communications systems ensure that urban religion is in a state of constant flux and that relationships or events thousands of miles away may have more influence than social or organisational structure at the local level in shaping the dynamics of religious groups. These issues are illustrated by reference to research on religious diversity in the East End of London (England) and through case studies of organisations included in this research.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Smith, Greg. Global Systems and Religious Diversity in the Inner City: Migrants in the East End of London. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2000, vol. 2, no.1, pp. 16-39. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol2/issue1/art2

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