07 SES 05 A, Diversity and Communality Contested
Policy on community relations in the United Kingdom and the role of schools in supporting the government agenda on promoting greater cohesion has now reached an impasse. The Riots in the Northern towns in England in 2001(Cantle 2001, 2006, Fielding 2005, Husland and Alam 2011) focused attention on “Britishness”, and notions of citizenship (Modood 2010). Events of 9/11, the London bombings (Husband and Alam (2011) and the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions (Richardson 2009) raised further issues about identity and citizenship at home. Accordingly there has been a shift in discourses of multiculturalism to ones of assimilationism with notions of “integration”, “community” and “social cohesion” (Thomas 2012, Werbner 2009). Against this backdrop, schools in the UK were obliged from 2008 to demonstrate how they were developing community engagement in their practice and this formed part of the school inspection’s protocol. Focus centred on “faith schools” which have been criticized for adopting an isolationist stance, with Muslim schools particularly attracting criticism. Drawing on a UK ESRC-funded project and a forthcoming book Reaching In, Reaching Out(IoE 2014), this paper explores different policy responses by schools. All of the participating institutions in our project were reaching out to the wider community before the community cohesion policy was implemented. Informed by this data and government inactivity in this area, we advocate an alternative model to the former ‘community cohesion’ policy that is less normative and well–suited to categorize what all schools are doing to foster and maintain links with their own faith or non-faith constituency and the wider community.
As “multiculturalism” has now failed, according to politicians in the UK, France and elsewhere, there is disagreement as to whether it can or should be revived. As such, beyond community cohesion, and “failed multiculturalism” is a policy vacuum. The new neo-Conservative agenda in the UK still espouses shared values and British identity, as clumsily expressed in the ”Big Society” initiative, but there is a lack of understanding of identity , the concept of multiculturalism and why the community cohesion agenda failed to achieve its objectives (Wetherell et al 2007). This raises implications for policy across education systems in Europe which seek to respond to the reality of how the dynamic of cultural identity and citizenship expresses itself in schools.
Husband and Alam (2011) Social Cohesion & Counter Terrorism, Bristol: The Policy Press Parker-Jenkins et al (2014), Reaching In, Reaching Out:Faith schools & community engagement, London: IoE Modood (2010) Still Not esay Being British,Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books Ltd Richardson (2009), Islamophobia or anti-Muslim Sentiment, London:Instead online Thomas (2012), Immigration, Islam & the politics of belonging in France, Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press Wetherell et al (2007), Identity, Ethnic Diversity & Community Cohesion, London;Sage
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