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Examining non-racial segregation: A micro-ecological approach


Russell Orr, University of Ulster, School of Psychology, Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT5 21SA, Northern Ireland (e-mail:


A number of studies in both South Africa and the United States of America have indicated the presence of an ‘informal’ segregation that is active in everyday life spaces and which is resistant to changes in macro level social policy. This research has however been conducted in societies where segregation and division has been based on skin colour. We sought to adapt a micro-ecological technique for use in a non-racially segregated setting, in this case lecture theatres at a University in Northern Ireland. Using seat numbers to examine seating patterns we found that levels of segregation persisted throughout a semester. The success of this methodology in capturing this information has far-reaching implications for the future study of the micro-ecology of contact.