Super-diversity inside and outside of congregations in Elmhurst, Queens

Authored by: Richard Cimino , Hans Tokke

The Routledge Handbook of Religion and Cities

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367367121
eBook ISBN: 9780429351181
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter looks at the role congregations play in a “superdiverse” neighborhood, characterized by recent immigration and strong ethic and religious pluralism. We are particularly interested in how diversity shapes a neighborhood’s religious ecology and how congregations and other groups relate to their neighborhood; how do they respond to this diversity in their ministries to their own congregants and to those outside their walls, and how do they interact with other faith communities? Further, to what degree do individuals follow the ideal of pluralism as they live their lives within their own enclave? We find that bonding rather than bridging social capital predominates in this religious ecology. Yet people also do engage in interaction rituals in their diverse environment and intersect their private lives with the broader environment, particularly in their use of religious spaces. Our study was conducted in the neighborhood of Elmhurst in the New York City borough of Queens, one of the most diverse in the world. We studied 16 congregations of Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain religions, conducting interviews with clergy, laypeople, and neighborhood residents.

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