Local community, mobility and belonging. Identification of and socio-demographic characteristics of neighbourhoods

Lisbeth B. Knudsen, Aalborg University
Mia A. Fallov, Aalborg University
Anja Jørgensen, Aalborg University

In a perspective of socio-geographic segregation and it’s socio-demographic consequences, depopulation of specific rural areas in the outskirts of Denmark has become an issue of increasing importance in public debate and in part of the research community. The question of depopulation is also part of the research question for an ongoing study on ‘Local community, mobility and belonging’ in Aalborg, from which we report. Contemporary municipality of Aalborg, which is the third largest in Denmark, comprises many various types of communities – from partly segregated neighbourhoods in the City, through the surrounding villages’ more mixed populations to depopulated small towns in the periphery. We are exploring the association between characteristics of the local communities and the inhabitants’ sense of belonging. As characteristics of the areas is included information on mobility (moving in-and out of the area), formations and dissolutions of families, being either marriages or co-resident couples and sociodemographic background. The pivot for the study is that there is a lack of knowledge about whether local communities differ from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, how they are influenced by the inhabitants’ mobility and finally, how they are influenced by the inhabitants’ sense of belonging. The study applies a two-step- method: 1) Neighbourhoods are identified by use of GIS-data and characteristics of the population throughout 25 years (from national population-based registers) are used to calculate aggregate measures of the neighbourhoods’ stability regarding population composition, family structures and migration patterns, and, subsequently, 2) Qualitative interviews focusing on sense of belonging are conducted with individuals selected from the knowledge on the characteristics of the neighbourhoods. What is presented here is the sociodemographic characteristics of the neighbourhoods in Aalborg municipality as identified by a combination of GIS and individual register data, the selection of communities for and preliminary results from the qualitative part of the study.

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Presented in Session 19: New data and methods of migration research