Ethnic minorities' reactions to newcomers in East London: Symbolic boundaries and convivial labor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


In much public discourse on immigrants in Western Europe, perceptions towards newcomers are discussed in relation to what white national majorities think. However, today, new migrants often move into places which are already settled by previous migrants. This article investigates the local experiences, perceptions, and attitudes towards newcomers among long-established ethnic minorities in an area which they have made their home, and where they predominate not just in numbers but also by way of shops, religious sites, school population, and so on. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in East London (UK), it looks at long-established ethnic minority residents’ attitudes towards newcomers from Eastern Europe, and how these are shaped by their own histories of exclusion. By bringing together theories on symbolic boundary making with the concept of “convivial labor,” it shows how experiences of stigmatization impact on perceptions of white newcomers, and how these perceptions are characterized by a combination of empathy and resentment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-220
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Wessendorf, S 2020, 'Ethnic minorities' reactions to newcomers in East London: Symbolic boundaries and convivial labor', The British Journal of Sociology, vol. 71, no. 2, pp. 208-220.which has been published in final form at [Link to final article using the DOI]. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • East London
  • conviviality
  • migration
  • symbolic boundaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Equality and Inclusion
  • Migration, Displacement and Belonging


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