Ethnic and Religious Diversity in the Politics of Suburban London

David Gilbert, Claire Dwyer, Nazneen Ahmed

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The notion of ‘suburbia’ is increasingly useless as a singular, simple description of place, identity or political culture. Focusing on ethnic and particularly religious diversity highlights the intensely differentiated nature of outer London. The tropes of ‘Metroland’, and ‘leafy suburbia’ deflect from recognition of this diversity, and the broadly-found expectations about patterns of migration, suburbanization and cultural change loosely associated with the Chicago School of urban sociology have less and less applicability to modern London. Religious and ethnic diversity in suburbia poses significant challenges for political parties. In particular, Labour’s difficulties in appealing to different constituencies, often expressed geographically in terms of the differences between inner London and the white working-class areas of post-industrial Britain, are also present in the micro-politics of adjacent areas of outer London. New forms of religion, and particularly the development of large new worship spaces, increasingly common in outer London, also have significant consequences for the local politics of suburbia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date17 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Suburbs
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • London
  • Electoral politics
  • Chicago School

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