*Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has completed an important study of more than 30,000 North Americans and concluded that – especially if you live in ethnically diverse cities such as Toronto, Vancouver or Los Angeles – it’s likely you are “hunkering down.”
That’s the colloquial phrase that Putnam, who has been an adviser to everyone from Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to the U.S. State Department and the World Bank, uses to describe the lack of trust he discovered among most North Americans in diverse urban settings.
Putnam’s survey of 41 American cities and towns found people in ethnically diverse regions tend to be polite – but also disengaged and wary.
While Putnam believes there may be long-term benefits for some from immigration (including enhanced scientific and intellectual innovation), he’s become convinced the short-term effect on most cities is a drop in “social capital.”
People in diverse urban regions tend to seek shelter in their own little worlds. “Diversity, at least in the short run, seems to bring out the turtle in all of us. … The more ethnically diverse the people we live around, the less we trust them.“