A Contradiction to Community Cohesion? The ‘Preventing Violent Extremism’ Agenda
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Chapter 1 highlighted the main themes and concerns of the post-2001 community cohesion policy agenda, and Chapter 4 outlined how those themes and concerns have been supported and operationalised by educational practitioners at ground level. Central to community cohesion’s analysis of problematic and separate ethnic identities has been how past policies have focused on the needs, equality and identities of each separate ethnic group, at the expense of a focus on commonality of concern and identity (Cantle, 2005). The suggestion here is that such policy approaches have made real progress in addressing the marginalisation of, and inequalities faced by, many non-white ethnic minority groups (Modood et al., 1997), but that this one-sided concern on difference has had unintended and negative effects on the bonds between groups. As a result, overcoming physical and cultural ethnic divisions and re-emphasising commonality has been the key focus for community cohesion practice, focused on ‘direct contact’ across ethnic divides and on policy approaches that enable and encourage it. Chapter 3 examined concerns that such community cohesion practice is a new phase of assimilationism (Alexander, 2007; Back et al., 2002), a forcible attempt to make minorities forsake their separate identities and cultural traditions in the interests of national unity, but the empirical evidence offered in Chapter 4 suggested that, in fact, community cohesion practice accepts and works with distinct ethnic and social identities, whilst augmenting them with overarching identities based on common connections, needs and experiences. Such evidence suggests that claims of community cohesion representing the ‘death of multiculturalism’ (Kundnani, 2002) are misplaced.
KeywordsLocal Authority Crime Prevention Muslim Community Labour Government Community Cohesion
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