51st Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "New Challenges for European Regions and Urban Areas in a Globalised World", 30 August - 3 September 2011, Barcelona, Spain
Demographic change occurred in the last decade by the arrival of immigrant population has produced significant social and physical transformations in the Spanish cities. This article is part of a research on the residential and urban conditions of immigrant population in the Metropolitan Region of Barcelona. In this study we have analyzed through case studies the relation between immigration and city through the study of the use of public space and housing characteristics. The immigrant population is generally a very diverse collective. We propose that points in common can be drawn from analyses that take into account other major characteristics, beyond country of origin, such as gender, economic situation and education level. Through observation of groups in public spaces, especially squares, it is possible to identify aspects related both to social status and to gender roles assigned by their original and adopted cultures. This paper focuses on Metropolitan Region of Barcelona, and analyzes its reality based on concrete data and specific in case studies, to verify and compare the initial proposal. To be able to determine parameters for comparison, we have worked with a methodological strategy based of several quantitative and qualitative tools to get an insight on residential and urban conditions of the immigrant population. The main technique used was the participant observation, involving direct observation and presence in different interaction spaces: streets, squares and public facilities. The observations involve two dimensions to make the analysis and the comparison between different fields of study easier: Physical dimension and Social dimension. This made it possible for us to become aware of the different uses made by immigrants and by the Spanish population based on their activities, gender, age, and interaction with other persons.