Mobilizing sounds: Ethnic boundaries, bridges and music reception in diverse European cities

European citizens increasingly consider immigration the most important issue facing the EU, rising from a mere 9% in 2012 to a staggering 48% in 2016. Increased diversity amidst global political crises and religious conflict have made European societies prone to social disintegration. Arts/culture arguably offers a solution for this urgent challenge, playing a pivotal role in “connecting people” and “enhancing social cohesion”.

Music is particularly suitable to bridge boundaries between minorities and majorities, due to its omnipresence and use of a shared emotional language. However, besides wishful speculations of policymakers, we have little empirical understanding of what music brings which groups together in what ways. Thus: to what extent and how does music bridge boundaries between majorities and immigrant ethnic minorities in European cities? What music genres have the potential to connect people? Recognizing social integration as a two-sided process, this study further examines how music brings together majorities and immigrant ethnic minorities. Moreover, as local contexts differ, it includes various European cities. All together, this project examines cognitive, spatial and sonic dimensions of ethnic boundaries. Does music have the ability to change how we think about, physically experience and hear diversity?


dr. (Pauwke) PPL Berkers

Academic partners

prof.dr. (Koen) CJM van Eijck
dr. (Michael) MJ Berghman
prof.dr. (Jeroen) J van der Waal


  • Popcoalitie

  • VNPF

  • Culture Action Europe

  • Rotterdam Arts Council