Exploring how to measure social integration using digital and online data

CASM was recently commissioned by the GLA to explore innovative data collection methods to measure social integration.The report highlights the potential opportunities and pitfalls in using digital and online data in measuring social integration in London, identifies a diverse selection of sources available and provides an outline of potential use cases for this data across the breadth of social integration measures.

In the last few years, the focus of social integration work in the UK has been on social contact between people from different backgrounds, often emphasising ethnicity and nationality as points of difference between people. While useful, this approach is incomplete. Understanding social integration, especially in an urban context, means looking at the extent to which people positively interact and connect with others who are different to themselves, across age, social class, sexuality, gender, disability and other social cleavages. It is determined by the level of equality between people, the nature of their relationships, and their degree of participation in the communities in which they live.

Existing surveys on social integration relating to London are often patchy in their coverage, and overly focused on migrants and ethnic minorities, rather than the central question of how social integration occurs across the population as a whole. This means understanding how individuals integrate across generations, social classes, educational differences and many other societal cleavages. Understanding alternative online and digital data sources could help to build a more comprehensive evidence base on social integration within London.

A one-page matrix of all of the evaluated sources is also available to download separately here.