Policies on multiculturalism and social cohesion

This driver has been archived

There is greater emphasis by government on implementing and monitoring policies around diversity and cohesion – there is a move away from tackling the structural factors behind multiple deprivation and exclusion, and a policy shift from valuing multiculturalism and difference to emphasising integration, social cohesion and ‘Britishness’. This is partly because some believe these policies may have contributed to social fragmentation and polarised communities and partly in response to political extremism. The new Equalities Bill focuses on recognizing the multifaceted nature of identiy, and is likely to further influence these policies in the future.

What are the implications?

  • The growth of a political agenda around ‘Britishness’ identity and citizenship
  • A move away from potentially dangerous identity politics.
  • Risk of overemphasis on integration to the detriment of recognising ethnic, cultural and religious diversity.
  • Possible creation of stronger, more cohesive communities at a time where global population movements are more fluid and populations increasingly transient.
  • Attitudes towards immigrants may deteriorate if immigrants are perceived as not able/willing to integrate or take on ‘British’ values.

Moving forward

Social cohesion relies on getting the difficult balance between diversity and unity right.  Where this is not achieved there is a risk of marginalisation and inequality.

  • Does your organisation have a role to play in addressing inequality and giving a voice to marginalised communities and groups?
  • Can you provide activities that contribute to a cohesive and inclusive society?

VCOs are good at building social capital especially ‘bonding social capital’ where ties are built between people with a common identity:

  • Can your organisation also generate’ bridging social capital’ – building ties amongst people who are different from each other?
  • Could you for instance hold joint events or form and join networks and partnerships?

Want to know more?

Our shared future

Published by: Commission on Integration and Cohesion - a fixed term advisory body

Date: 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? A large report on social cohesion, with detailed policy recommendations

How useful is this?  This is a large report (175 pages) exploring issues around social cohesion,  giving a large set of policy recommendations. The report is based on a consultation and also provides the results of detailed research. The recommendations emphasise four key principles: shared futures; rights and responsibilities; mutual respect and civility; and visible social justice.

Other comments:

The Government’s Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion

Published by: Department for Communities and Local Government – A Government Department

Date: 2008

Format: PDF

What is it? A response to the recommendations in Our Shared Future (by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion).

How useful is this?  This response gives an insight into the government’s priorities on social cohesion. It is organised around the following six key principles: a move away from a “one size fits all” approach; Mainstreaming of cohesion into wider policy areas; A national framework for local support and guidance; Integration of new migrants and existing communities; Building positive relationships; and a stronger focus on what works. It also outlines specific measures being followed to address issues around social cohesion.

Other comments:

Immigration, social cohesion and social capital: What are the links?

Published by: Joseph Rowntree Foundation– a research and development charity.

Date: 2006

Format: PDF

What is it? A report exploring the relationship between the social capital of migrants and social cohesion.

How useful is this?

This report looks at social cohesion broadly but with particular reference to the political landscape.  It examines the shift in government thinking from the promotion of multicultural race relations and the acceptance of ‘difference’, to the need for social cohesion in response to the perceived challenges which new migrants pose to a cohesive ‘national identity’.  Chapter 2 in particular looks at new migration, social cohesion and policy development.

Other comments:

Goodbye to multiculturalism, but welcome to what?

Published by: IPPR – a left of centre think tank

Date: 2005

Format: Web

What is it? An article exploring the balance between multiculturalism and integration.

How useful is this?

This article sets out how multiculturalism has now come under attack, explores what multiculturalism means, and the terms in which it should be supported.  The article looks at the political move towards integration, exploring changes in citizenship policies such as citizenship education, and highlights challenges such as ensuring economic inclusion and the rise in new immigrant communities.  It concludes that although recent events have reminded us of the importance of, for instance, tackling political indifference to segregation and establishing a common core of political citizenship, multiculturalism is far from dead.

Other comments:


Last updated at 13:51 Wed 19/Jan/11.

LockRecent comments

Véronique's picture


Third Sector Foresight

For those interested by this agenda, NCVO and Carnegie are organising on 29th September a free seminar on social cohesion and diversity. It’s the third seminar in a series of seminar on bridging social capital. So far the seminars have been really stimulating and provided a good opportunity for practitioners, academics and policymakers to share insights. This is reflected in the report for the first seminar on building bridges, now available online.

Speakers for this seminar will be:

  • Nick Johnson (Institute of Community Cohesion) who will present the current policy context and review how debates around social cohesion and multiculturalism have evolved in recent years.
  • Nick Acheson (University of Ulster) who will summarise what the research evidence says about the relationship between diversity and social cohesion.
    For more information and to book

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

  • Lock