Community Cohesion: The Death of the British Model of Multiculturalism?

  • Paul Thomas
Part of the Palgrave Politics of Identity and Citizenship Series book series ( CAL)


Chapter 1 detailed the 2001 riots in the north of England and the subsequent emergence of community cohesion as a new British governmental policy priority. In outlining the key themes and concerns of community cohesion, the chapter underlined the significant re-think of past policy assumptions and approaches that community cohesion arguably represents. The meaning and implications of this shift are the focus for this chapter, which examines academic and political critiques of community cohesion in order to aid understanding. Much of these critiques have been overtly critical, or even hostile, suggesting that cohesion represents a retreat to failed policies of coercive assimilation (Back et al., 2002), a racialisation of structural economic and social problems and a resulting blaming of Asian communities (Alexander, 2004), a factually wrong, misplaced obsession with ‘ segregation’ (Finney and Simpson, 2009; Kalra, 2002), and the ‘death of multiculturalism’ (Kundnani, 2002) in Britain, which has previously been seen by neighbouring European states as having a successful political approach to ethnic diversity. A common concern linking all these critiques focuses on the undoubted post-2001 shift from official prioritisation of respect for diversity towards a concern with commonality, cohesion and integration, with government apparently.


Social Capital Ethnic Minority Labour Government Asian Community Community Cohesion 
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Copyright information

© Paul Thomas 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Thomas
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HuddersfieldUK

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