Life at the frontier

Researching the Impact of Social Frontiers on the Social Mobility and Integration of Migrants



This website is dedicated to collating and disseminating research on 'social frontiers', particularly outputs from the three-year  2020-2023 'Life at the Frontier' project (funded by Nordforsk and the Economic and Social Research Council). 

Our aim is to understand the role of  'social frontiers' in determining the social mobility and integration of migrants and other groups.  Social frontiers arise when neighbouring communities are very different in terms of their cultural, ethnic and/or social make-up, and when the spatial transition in these characteristics is abrupt, rather than gradual. Recent research finds that social frontiers are associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression and crime. 

Our concern is that social frontiers also impede education and employment outcomes, leading to lower social mobility. 

Our pioneering programme of research will examine the impact of social frontiers on social mobility and their implications for integration using a combination of detailed qualitative research and pioneering quantitative methods.  

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Research Themes, Goals & Resources

Our research encompasses the theory, estimation and mapping of social frontiers, quantifying their impacts on life outcomes and the development of new methods and toolkits.

What are social frontiers? How do we define them and why are they important? Social frontiers remain a relatively unexplored area of segregation research and there are rich avenues of conceptualisation and taxonomy to be explored.  

Social frontiers are sometimes marked by physical barriers such as walls and barriers, but often they are invisible boundaries between communities. Our aim is to map them for urban areas in cities around the world.

Social frontiers potentially represent places of division and conflict. We explore the impact of social frontiers on crime, education and social mobility. 

Our goal is to make the data, maps and computer code freely available (subject to data protection restrictions). 

Our goal is to engage with stakeholders from each country, to foster cross-country learning about best practice, and to encourage dialogue and sharing of ideas. 

Links to our research outputs from the Nordforsk and related projects on social frontiers, segregation, immigration, and inequality.

Our Life at the Frontier project brings together a multi-disciplinary research team spanning the UK, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. 

Updates on the latest developments, events, publications and data resources. 

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