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Diverse workplaces and interethnic friendship formation – A multilevel comparison across 21 OECD countries

Journal article
Authors Andrej Kokkonen
Peter Esaiasson
Mikael Gilljam
Published in Journal of ethnic and migration studies
Volume 41
Issue 2
Pages 284–305
ISSN 1369-183X
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 284–305
Language en
Keywords ethnic diversity, Integration, Workplaces, Friendship, Ethnic Relations, Contact Hypothesis, Conflict Hypothesis
Subject categories Political Science


We study how workplace diversity affects how native-born populations form interethnic friendship relations. Drawing on network elasticity research, the relationship between functional and cognitive interdependencies, and intergroup contact theory, we argue that diverse workplaces—because they restrict individuals’ opportunities to act on tendencies towards homophily more than other social units—have a particularly strong potential for integration. We test our argument by analysing data from the first round of the European Social Survey with multilevel modelling. In line with expectations, we find that individuals who work at diverse workplaces are more likely than individuals who work at homogenous workplaces to have immigrant friends; that workplace diversity is more efficacious than neighbourhood diversity in generating interethnic friendship relations; and that the association between workplace diversity and the likelihood of having immigrant friends is stronger among individuals who have a low level of education, feel economically vulnerable, and who live in countries characterized by relative resource scarcity.

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