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Public Lecture: Ethnic Diversity and Prosocial Behavior

Keynote Lecture of the Symposium "Cultures of Resilience. Transdisciplinary Inquiries
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Immigration and globalization have spurred interest in the effects of ethnic diversity in Western societies. Most scholars focus on whether diversity undermines trust, social capital, and collective goods provision. However, the type of prosociality that helps heterogeneous societies function is different from the in-group solidarity that glues homogeneous communities together. Social cohesion in multiethnic societies depends on whether prosocial behavior extends beyond close-knit networks and in-group boundaries. In my work I identify two features of modern societies—social differentiation and economic interdependence—that can set the stage for constructive interactions with dissimilar others. Whether societal adaptations to diversity lead toward integration or division depends on the positions occupied by minorities and immigrants in the social structure and economic system, along with the institutional arrangements that determine their political inclusion. The talk will showcase this argument presenting some results from recent research on the role of economic integration in fostering solidarity and cooperation across ethnic boundaries.

About the speaker
Delia Baldassarri is Professor at New York University and senior researcher in the Dondena Centre at Bocconi University. Her research interests are in the fields of economic and political sociology, social networks, and analytical sociology. Her current research projects include a study of the emergence of cooperation in complex societies, focusing on ethnically heterogeneous communities, and the investigation of major trends in U.S. public opinion. Her work has appeared in leading journals, among which Science, PNAS, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, and American Journal of Political Science.