Unity out of Diversity? Perspectives on the adaptations of Immigrants in Britain

  • Lessard-Phillips, Laurence (PI)

Project Details


Unity out of Diversity (UniDiv) is a three year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which explores the definitions and understandings of immigrant adaptation in the academic, policy and public opinion spheres.

The project is led by Dr Laurence Lessard-Phillips in collaboration with Dr Silvia Galandini at the Cathie Marsh Institute for Social Research (CMIST) – University of Manchester. The projects mentors are Professor Yaojun Li (CMIST, University of Manchester) and Dr Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust).

The main aim of the project is to investigate the definitions of the commonalities and differences in the various perceptions and understandings of what the long-term adaptation of immigrants and ethnic minorities (and its dimensions) in Britain means and consists of.


The UniDiv project addresses two main questions:

Is immigrant adaptation a complex process consisting of various dimensions (socio-economic, cultural, social, spatial) and, if so, how do these dimensions influence one another (if at all)?

To what extent do academic researchers, policy makers and the general public perceived and define immigrant adaptation as a multidimensional process or do they focus on specific dimensions and outcomes?

More specifically, we aim at exploring:

the extent of the dimensionality of immigrant adaptation in Britain;
the existing evidence on whether adaptation in one dimension helps adaptation in another or whether these dimensions are independent;
whether this dimensionality and independence between dimensions vary across gender, ethnic and generational lines;
the extent to which the same or different dimensions are prioritised in the definitions and understandings of immigrant adaptation among academic researchers, policy makers and the general public;
what data and policy responses might be more effective in addressing the concerns of both the ethnic majority and minority groups;
whether some dimensions might need to be prioritised as they are likely to influence outcomes in other dimensions.


The project uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to collect and analyse data about the ways in which immigrant adaptation is defined and perceived in the academic, policy and public opinion spheres.

Immigrant adaptation in British academia:

Statistical analysis drawing data from existing survey data, such as the 2010 Ethnic Minority British Election Study, Understanding Society and the Citizenship Survey;
Meta-analysis of the current academic literature on immigrant adaptation.
Immigrant adaptation in public policy:

Content analysis of policy documents;
Interviews with policy makers and third-sector stakeholders (community organisations, charities and think tanks) both at the national and local level (research locations: Glasgow and Manchester).
Immigrant adaptation in public opinion:

Content analysis of newspapers articles focusing on immigrant adaptation;
Focus groups with members of the public in two research locations: Glasgow and Manchester.

Research locations

The UniDiv project aims at exploring perceptions and definitions of immigrant adaptation in the policy and public opinion spheres both at the national and local level. We therefore focus on two specific research locations:

Short titleR:HSR Unity out of Diversity
Effective start/end date1/10/1330/09/16

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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