The time and place of social mixing: Everyday rhythms of long-term residents and newcomers in a Dutch neighborhood

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Despite research questioning the beneficial effects of social mixing interventions, urban governments continue to strive for a social mix. In this paper we examine the effects of social mixing through the concept of rhythm. We paint an ethnographic portrait of a disadvantaged area in the city of Groningen, The Netherlands, which was targeted by a social mixing intervention. We analyze everyday rhythms of newcomers and long-term low-income residents in order to shed light on the effects of the mixing intervention on perceptions of social division and disadvantage. By introducing ‘exemplary’ newcomers, the social mixing intervention improves the area in terms of e.g. livability scores and socio-economic indicators. However, looking through the lens of rhythm, we found how social divisions between advantaged and disadvantaged groups become exacerbated as a result of ‘arrhythmias’ occurring. We argue that institutional actors fail to align the social mixing intervention with long-term residents’ daily rhythms, which impinges upon that group’s right to the social production of their neighborhood. On a wider scale, we assert the social mixing intervention renders the problem of socio-economic disadvantage spatially insignificant under the guise of improved livability. Therefore, we implore future urban policy to explicitly imagine the ways in which socio-spatial interventions might affect daily rhythms of inequality within neighborhoods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1809-1826
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number8
Early online date9-Mar-2021
Publication statusPublished - 1-Dec-2021


  • Social mix
  • Rhythmanalysis
  • Socio-spatial inequality
  • Livability
  • The Netherlands

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