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Effects of COVID-19 on temporal urban diversity

A quantitative study using mobile phone data as a proxy for human mobility patterns

Written by F. Sjöblom

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Cultural Studies




Bachelor Thesis: Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, policymakers and public health authorities have adopted various measures to deal with the spread of the virus in different countries. In Sweden, compared with other countries, the Public Health Agency has been given great powers and great responsibilities. The strategy adopted by Sweden is very unique internationally, with no formal blockade or any extensive mandatory regulations. Public transportation, restaurants, gyms, primary and secondary schools are still open. Unlike mandatory regulations and the risk of being fined by the authorities, the disturbance to people’s daily lives is mainly based on guidelines and recommendations. Emphasizing that individuals have the responsibility to maintain social distancing, work from home as much as possible, and travel only when necessary are the cornerstones of Sweden’s strategy. However, although personal responsibility has always been an important part of Sweden’s strategy to curb the spread of the virus, there are still some regulations. For example, a maximum of 50 people are restricted to attend public gatherings (March 29) and visits to nursing homes are prohibited (Vogel, 2020). Sweden has become the focus of international attention due to its unique strategy and has also witnessed curious admiration as criticism (see egBBC, 2020; Claeson & Hanson, 2021). It may be too early to say which strategy is the most effective to prevent the spread of the virus, but the relevant point of this article is to emphasize the relatively gentle intrusion into people's daily lives. Initially, it can be assumed that something will cause a small decrease in the mobility of daily personnel. This will be described in detail in the next chapter. 3.2 Human mobility The possibility of people traveling through time and space is highly related to the way they reach different locations. Larson et al. (2014, 9) pointed out that in order to take advantage of the possibility of connecting two locations together, some form of mobility is required. This means that human mobility is closely related to accessibility, and mobility is a means of creating access to other locations. Access to other locations may be affected by multiple components. Geurs & van Wee (2004) outlines four important factors:-Land use part. This component involves, for example, sanitary facilities, shops, employment opportunities, entertainment areas, and social hot spots. -The traffic component refers to the traffic network and the possibility of personal use of it. -The time component reflects the time limit for using public utilities. -The individual composition reflects the opportunity for the individual to move. 3.3 Urban Diversity A common way to define human diversity in an urban environment is through a combination of personal living conditions and demographic and socioeconomic variables (such as race and economic status). The diversity of ethnic neighborhoods has received great attention in the 21st century, probably due to increased immigration to Western countries (eg Ellis et al., 2018; Vertovec, 2007). Robert D. Putnam (2007) emphasized that the most certain prediction we can make for almost any modern society is that from now on, a generation will be more diverse than it is today (ibid., 136). These predictions do not seem to encounter any contradictions in the near future, but what social significance does it have? According to Putnam (2007), there are two main assumptions about diversity and connection with others. The first is often referred to as the "conflict theory", which shows that competition for limited resources encourages unity within the group and distrust of others. Putnam's own research also shows that individuals in ethnically diverse communities (in the United States) tend to have low trust. Even individuals of their own race have fewer friends and participate in community cooperation (ibid., 136). The opposite view, the "contact hypothesis," suggests that if we interact frequently with people who are different from ourselves, we tend to become more tolerant and trust them more. One of the first and most convincing evidence to support the contact hypothesis is a study on the theme of the racial integration of American soldiers in the U.S. military in 1949. Many people who do not have any black people in their units do not welcome this idea. On the other hand, individuals who already have one or more blacks are more willing to accept racial integration. In fact, among the groups that have no contact with blacks, the proportion of individuals who oppose racial mixing is 62%. Among the groups that have served blacks, only 7% oppose the idea of ​​racial mixing. (Ibid., 141-142). The contact hypothesis can be used as a stepping stone to promote the study of urban temporal diversity. Ethnic diversity is not the focus of this article, but if you believe in general concepts, this assumption can also be applied to the general theme of diversity. In addition, we advocate the belief that encountering people in an environment outside of our own community may help improve the sense of unity within the society, and the high degree of urban diversity prevents individuals from spontaneously occurring in a static state. Interaction becomes possible. 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