Patriots of the Future? A Critical Examination of Community Cohesion Strategies in Contemporary Britain

by Derek McGhee
University of Southampton

Sociological Research Online, Volume 10, Issue 3,

Received: 30 Sep 2004     Accepted: 19 Jul 2005    Published: 30 Sep 2005


This paper focuses on four inter-related areas of recent public policy in Britain associated with community cohesion, asylum and immigration, the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy and counter-terrorism. This paper comprises of a critical examination of the various reports, speeches and strategies associated with these areas of public policy. The central concern of the paper is to explore the relationship between these areas of public policy through illuminating the extent of the 'policy tropes' common to each, for example, (1) the problematisation of the weakness of 'citizenship' in contemporary Britain and the strategy for revitalizing it, common to all four policy areas; (2) the emphasis on 'the material' over 'the cultural' in the explanations of 'weak integration' in these policy areas; and (3) the ethnic and religious minority focus in all four areas. The relationship exposed between these policy tropes is then used in the paper to suggest that the focus on ethnic and minority communities (especially young Muslims) within this discursive formation, belies a barely repressed risk consciousness that informs the wider rhetoric of building community cohesion in twenty-first century Britain.

Keywords: Diversity, Community Cohesion, Asylum, Ethnic Minorities, Religious Minorities, Strength in Diversity, Muslims, Counter-Terrorism.


1.1 This article focuses on community cohesion, managed migration and the Labour Government's various strategies for building 'unity in diversity' in twenty first century Britain. There are two related purposes behind this article: (1) to explore the relationships between these areas of public policy; and, (2) to examine the Government's motivation for initiating them.

1.2 In the article special attention will be paid to the ways in which the Government justifies, or attempts to justify these initiatives and strategies to 'the nation'. They do this through presenting these initiatives and strategies as the antidote to specific social problems, associated with ethic, religious and new migrant minority groups in twenty-first century Britain. These are: (1) the segregation of 'established' migrant communities from surrounding White 'host' communities, for example, the Pakistani-Muslim community in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley; (2) the contemporary problematization of asylum, in relation to the Government's project of attempting to deal with the alleged failure of integration in the asylum and immigration policies of successive Governments; and (3) concerns over the growth of religious and political extremism in Britain within the context of segregation and concerns over asylum since 9/11 and especially since the July 2005 bombings in London. The paper will be divided into four parts.

1.3 The first part of the paper will focus on the problematization of the weakness of British citizenship, by the former Home Secretary, David Blunkett, in the relation to the findings of various community cohesion reviews (especially in the Cantle Report) as well as developments in asylum and immigration policy since the publication of the Secure Borders - Safe Haven White Paper in 2002.

1.4 The second part focuses on the suggestions emanating from the Home Office on how to revitalize British citizenship. What this process amounts to, as will be revealed below, is a systematic dismantling of multiculturalism as the organizing rhetoric of public policies dedicated to 'toleration of difference' in order to promote a more managerial strategy that de-emphasizes 'past-orientated attachments' (for example, to tradition, culture and identity) in order to promote 'future-oriented allegiances' (for example, civic engagement, political participation, loyalty to the wider British polity) through encouraging more active varieties of British citizenship.

1.5 In the third part of the paper attention will turn to the contrast between the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy launched in 2004 and the discourses associated with the various community cohesion reviews produced in response to the disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in 2001. In this part of the article 'the cultural' emphasis of community cohesion strategies based on greater participation and dialogue between segregated communities will be compared to the more balanced approach emanating from the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy, especially in relation to young ethnic and religious minority people, which makes explicit connections between material inequalities, segregation and pathways to extremist solutions. However, even though the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy (and the subsequent Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society strategy launched in January 2005) strikes a better balance between 'the material' and 'the cultural' components of segregation and weak integration, it will be revealed below, that the emphasis, as in community cohesion discourses, is on ethnic and religious minority communities, with an increasing emphasis on Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities

1.6 In this and the final part of the paper the following question will be explored: is the focus on the younger members of ethnic and religious minority communities in, for example, the Strength in Diversity consultation more a risk management strategy (associated with reducing further 'second generation' backlashes) than a 'community cohesion-inclusive citizenship' strategy?

1.7 The final part of the paper briefly examines reports published in 2004-2005 that specifically focus on faith communities. That is the Home Office's Faith Communities Unit report: Working Together (2004) and the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report: Community Relations and Terrorism (2005). The recommendations made in these reports, as will be revealed below, can be described as being yet another example of the Government's risk management strategy which focuses on Muslim communities in Britain. As well as recommending the re-organization of faith-based 'representative' organizations (to improve Government-faith community consultation) these reports are overwhelmingly concerned with 'reaching' and engaging young Muslims before extremist do.

Part 1: Failed Integration

2.1 The alleged weakness and irrelevance of British citizenship were central components of the former Home Secretary, David Blunkett's, response to the disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in 2001:

The problem, according to Mr Blunkett is that:

The UK has had a relatively weak sense of what political citizenship should entail. Our values of individual freedom, the protection of liberty and respect for difference, have not been accompanied by a strong, shared understanding of the civic realm. This has to change. (Blunkett, 2001: 2)

2.2 The solution to this imbalance between respect for freedom and liberty and the development of shared understanding in the 'civic realm', according to the former Home Secretary, is through developing:

a stronger understanding of what our collective citizenship means, and how we can build that shared commitment into our social and political institutions. (Blunkett, 2001: 2).

2.3 These comments lay the groundwork for the former Home Secretary's project in recent years (in all four of the inter-related policy areas that will be examined here: community cohesion, managed migration, strength in diversity and engaging young Muslims) of replacing the emphasis on the respect of diversity, as an end-point of political tolerance and political unity in a multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-faith context, with a new project that insists on forging a new level of meta-allegiance and loyalty to 'the community of communities' (Parekh 2000). According to Mr Blunkett, this is a matter of encouraging flexible or complex meta-loyalties above and beyond competing micro-loyalties, for example:

There is no contradiction between retaining a distinct cultural identity and identifying with Britain. But our democracy must uphold fundamental rights and obligations to which all citizens and public authorities adhere. Citizenship means finding a common place for diverse cultures and beliefs, consistent with the core values we uphold. (Blunkett, 2001: 2).

2.4 These comments made by the former Home Secretary resonate with the analysis and construction of the social problems of segregation, parallel lives and antagonism between the spatially proximate yet culturally distinct communities of Oldham, Burnley and Bradford made by the Community Cohesion Review Team, Chaired by Ted Cantel. The Community Cohesion Review was commissioned to examine the factors that led to the eruption of violent clashes between Pakistani-Muslim, neighbouring White Communities, members of far-right organizations and police in the spring and summer of 2001 in these areas; and to suggest how these problems could be ameliorated. Citizenship, or more accurately the establishment of a 'greater sense of citizenship' based on principles common to all groups was central to the recommendations made by the Community Cohesion Review in relation to not only Oldham, Burnley and Bradford but the whole of the country:

We believe that there is an urgent need to promote community cohesion, based upon a greater knowledge of, contact between, and respect for, the various cultures that now make Great Britain such a rich and diverse nation. It is also essential to establish a greater sense of citizenship, based on (a few) common principles which are shared and observed by all sections of the community. This concept of citizenship would also place a higher value on cultural differences. (Community Cohesion Review 2001: 10).

2.5 The social problems identified in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford by the Community Cohesion Review have been held up by the Labour Government as evidence of the failure of successive Governments to manage immigration and the integration of migrant communities in Britain. According to the Community Cohesion Review, White and Pakistani communities in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford are united in their ignorance and hostility towards each other. Thus, non-integration of host and 'established' migrant communities, experienced as segregation, separation and lack of 'contact' between these communities were viewed by the Community Cohesion Review as the root of the problems. The following factors were listed as particularly problematic:

Separate: educational arrangements, community and voluntary bodies, employment, places of worship, language, social and cultural networks, means that many communities operate on the basis of a series of parallel lives. These lives often do not seem to touch at any point, let alone overlap and promote any meaningful interchanges. (Community Cohesion Review 2001: 9).

2.6 The reiteration of 'the failed integration hypothesis' so central to the various Community Cohesion reports and strategies produced since 2001[1] has in turn bled into the citizenship strategies for 'new' migrants that are now under way in Asylum and Immigration policy. According to Young, the disturbances in Oldham and Burnley and the 'riots' in Bradford in 2001, are the most pivotal events leading to the Home Office regarding 'integration' as the key issue in their immigration and asylum strategy (2003: 449). This is evident in the Secure Borders - Safe Haven White Paper (2002):

The reports into last summer's disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley painted a vivid picture of fractured and divided communities, lacking a sense of common values or shared civic identity to unite around. The reports signalled the need for us to foster and renew the social fabric of our communities, and rebuild a sense of common citizenship, which embraces the different and diverse experiences of today's Britain. (Secure Borders 2002: 10).

2.7 The result of this observation was that the 'integration' of 'new' migrant communities in asylum and immigration policy, as well as the de-segregation of 'established' migrant communities in community cohesion discourses was to be achieved through a common policy solution: the establishment of an inclusive sense of common citizenship. According to the Local Government Association's Guidance on Community Cohesion (2002), the latter was to be achieved in local areas through the development of: conflict resolution strategies which would include 'myth-busting' programmes (to counter inter-community stereotyping); as well as events and programmes to foster openness and cross cultural contact; for example, festivals that would involve all communities (Guidance on Community Cohesion 2002: 13). In this strategy, the building of community cohesion and the reduction of 'anti-social behaviour' (in this instance, experienced as antagonism and violence between communities) are both to be achieved through the creation of 'unity in diversity'. The assumption here is that: "people moving towards a commonly agreed goal are more likely to interact, understand and value differences positively" (Guidance on Community Cohesion 2002: 13).

2.8 In turn, in asylum and immigration policy, the emphasis of recent changes in the process of attaining British citizenship has a distinct 'community cohesion' flavour especially through the emphasis of the 'new citizenship pedagogy' on building the capacity in 'new citizens' for effective engagement and 'active citizenship'. This is achieved through transforming the naturalization process from a bureaucratic one into 'an act of commitment to Britain and an important step in the process of achieving integration into our society' (Secure Borders 2002: 32). The acquisition of English language and knowledge of 'British life' were presented as the key to successful integration of 'new' migrants, as without them, according to the Home Office, migrant communities are vulnerable and ill-equipped to take an active role in society (Secure Borders 2002: 32). What this means is that the process of becoming British will take the form of a rites of passage where migrant communities will be first orientated to British life; and then be given the practical tools to contribute to British life.[2]

2.9 Elements of community cohesion discourses which emphasize the forging of 'unity in diversity' through the establishment of core principles common to all and the 'managed migration' strategy (though various 'citizenship' rituals for new British citizens) developed in the Secure Borders White Paper (which was introduced in the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002) can also be found in the latest strategy to be introduced by the Home Office: the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy launched in May of 2004 [3] that will be the focus of part 3, below. Before that however, in the next section recent Sociological and Political Science literatures on 'citizenship beyond multiculturalism' will be examined. These literatures are particularly relevant to the wider strategies associated with community cohesion and 'managed migration', especially in relation to the Government's suggestions for the development of future rather than past-orientated forms of patriotism in contemporary Britain.

Part 2: Citizenship after Multiculturalism

Multicultural society seems to have been abandoned at birth. Judged unviable and left to fend for itself, its death by neglect is being loudly proclaimed on all sides. (Gilroy 2004: 1).
3.1 Multicultural rhetoric is currently under attack in Britain by the Labour Government. At the centre of this critique is the assumption that multicultural rhetoric, proffered in various ways by various Governments in recent decades, celebrates the differences between communities to the neglect of the commonalities all communities share. In this critique differences are seen as retrogressive, past-orientated concepts that are seen as getting in the way of communities 'building bridges', 'finding common ground' and forging core values suitable for a shared future. Thus, multicultural rhetoric is increasingly seen as being out of step with the temporality and spatiality of the Government's contemporary thinking with regard to citizenship. However, the Government is not alone in this there are various commentators and academics who share this view. For example, according to Alibhai-Brown, the problem with multiculturalism is that it gets in the way of our doing what we need to together because it focuses on the past rather than our shared future together (Alibhai-Brown 2000: 11). In twenty-first century Britain, according to Alibhai-Brown:
we need to re-imagine our collective culture with ties that bind, when the old multiculturalism debate is still looking inwards, erecting new barriers between groups in our own society, instead of enabling us to collectively benefit from our diversity. (2000: 3).

3.2 This emphasis on finding shared commitments, strengthening the ties that bind 'our' common culture in societies characterized by diversity, have a lot in common with Etzioni's thesis in The New Golden Rule concerning the re-moralization of society through the strengthening of a single core set of moral values. In this book, Etzioni refers to the necessity of developing 'commonality in difference' which will become the 'frame and glue' (of basic agreement) which holds the mosaic of diverse communities in place (Etzioni 1997: 193). Even Paul Gilroy in his latest book After Empire is intent on finding the recipe for promoting 'basic sameness' and 'fundamental commonality' in what he call 'increasingly differentiated societies', that is:

We need to know what sorts of insights and reflection might actually help increasingly differentiated societies and anxious individuals to cope successfully with the challenges involved in dwelling comfortably in proximity to the unfamiliar without becoming fearful and hostile. We need to consider whether the scale upon which sameness and difference are calculated might be altered productively so that the strangeness of strangers goes out of focus and other dimensions of basic sameness can be acknowledged and made significant. (Gilroy 2004: 3).

3.3 A common critique of models such as these which emphasis the necessity of finding commonality in difference and the common ground of shared values is that they are based on the assumption that the apparently different values of all communities actually operate around a shared common core of decency and that this can be based within a common constitutional framework (Rose 1999: 170).This model for creating unity in diversity at the level of 'the nation', and the assumption that this commonality of values is in fact an achievable outcome for the nation is, therefore, problematic. For example, Parekh highlights some of the practical problems associated with finding a baseline of 'core' or 'shared' values and principles in multi-ethnic, multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-lingual Britain in the following passage:

what values and loyalties must be shared by communities and individuals in One Nation?[4] How should disputes and incompatible values between different communities be handled? How is the balance to be struck between the need to treat people equally, the need to treat people differently, and the need to maintain shared values and social cohesion? (Parekh, 2000: xv).

3.4 From the outset, the attempt to create unity out of diversity through the isolation of core principles and establishing core values shared by all is a highly problematic political project. However, there are signs that the dream of creating a common culture of core values is not to be achieved through the problematic process of trying to please all social groups. Rather, for the Home Office, shared values are to be found in the process of all social groups undergoing transformation. In these strategies no one (or no group) is allowed to remain in place, the multicultural rainbow is to be shaken up, the multicultural mosaic is to be smashed, and no group will be allowed to demand anything from their fixed position. What this represents is a renegotiation of 'the non-interference pact' under what Alibhai-Brown describes as 'distorted multiculturalism' wherein increasingly differentiated groups each pursue their own case for attention and resources, while jealously protecting their rights not to be criticized by others (2000: 7). In the new order beyond multiculturalism separate and competing group interests and loyalties are to become secondary to emergent forms of revitalized patriotic allegiance. Sociological work in this area is increasingly mirroring the Government's dream of new ways of being British. This is evident in Jock Young's call for a new sort of multiculturalism - a multiculturalism of genuine diversity (Young 2003: 459). In this Britain, according to Young, the stress will be on the ongoing creation of culture rather than the inheritance of a weighty tradition (2003: 459). Young elaborates:

A diverse society is not Oldham or Bradford or Burnley, where fixed and monolithic cultures confront one another, nor is it the neo-tribalism of Northern Ireland where tradition is glorified and the problems of identity are seemingly solved by consulting the fixed geographical contours of an atlas. In contrast genuine cultural diversity is about creating new lifestyles and values, it is about bricollaging bits from here and there, it is the hybridization of culture rather than the pursuit of a fake authenticity. It is, in fact, the actual lived culture that young people in schools which recruit from a wide range of ethnic and class backgrounds create every day of the week. The enemy of diversity is segregated housing policies, single faith schools, backward looking community leaders and, above all, the glib allocation of people to fixed ethnic categories. (Young 2003: 459-460).

3.5 This fluid-future orientated multiculturalism (of genuine diversity) is therefore contrasted against what sociologists such as Alibhai-Brown and Young, and politicians such as David Blunkett, describe as the problematic monolithic past-orientated rhetoric of multiculturalism in which community, culture, tradition and identity are privileged and respected perhaps too much. In Jock Young's dream of a new sort of multiculturalism, the sacred cows of community, culture, tradition and identity are to be disrespected, here 'ever body changes' no group remains the same (2003: 460). In the new Britain beyond multiculturalism tradition and identity are relegated to being minor differences which have been inappropriately championed under previous public policies at the expense of the major similarities all groups in contemporary Britain should share in the form of common core values which would privilege the allegiance to Britain above all other communal identifications (Laxer 2003: 144). Chantal Mouffe's problematization (and solution) to the crisis in political allegiance in contemporary societies has much in common with the diagnosis of the weakness at the heart of contemporary British citizenship above (see Blunkett in part 1 above). Like Blunkett, Mouffe asserts that the allegiance to the political community must take precedence over other forms of association:

While it is important to defend the widest possible pluralism in many areas - culture, religion, morality - we must also accept that our participation as citizens in the political association cannot be located on the same level as our other insertions in social relations. To recover citizenship as a strong form of political identification presupposes our allegiance to the principles of modern democracy and the commitment to defend our key institutions. Antagonistic principles of legitimacy cannot coexist within our single political association; to accept pluralism at that level automatically entails the [disappearance] of the state as a political reality. (Mouffe 1992: 11-12).

3.6 But how is all this to be brought about, how can allegiances be broken in order to forge stronger allegiances to the principles of modern democracy within the framework of Law and Parliamentary Government? A possible way of achieving this is to look to a common future as the foundation upon which the new patriotism is to be built, rather than looking to history, origins and traditions. Ulrich Beck calls this process re-traditionalization. The process of re-traditionalization, for Beck, entails a 'collective future consciousness' taking over from tradition and memory in the 'past-oriented national imagination' (Beck 2002: 27). In this process 'tradition' becomes 'the tradition of the future' (2002: 27) culminating in the eclipse of past-oriented nationalism by a variety of future-oriented patriotism.

3.7 Therefore, rather than trying to please all communities in their difference this process is to be achieved through commitment to action in the form of participation and dialogue between groups in order to find the common ground of shared values that all groups will swear allegiance to. Many diverse theories of transformative democracies (deliberative, participatory, dialogic) as well as the other bodies of work on cultural citizenship and the politics of difference in Sociology and Political Science seem to be converging around the issue of how individuals and groups in complex, diverse societies have and might in the future 'act' politically as a 'unity in diversity'. In many ways the battle that is being waged over citizenship in the contemporary Britain is between citizenship (in the form of active citizenship) and identity. This reflects the well rehearsed conflict between citizenship and identity, when they are conceptualized as a status expressed in juridical norms that define the rights of the members of a polity (citizenship) and a relational entity which begins outside of the purview of legal rules and regulations but is quickly drawn into the legal field (identity) (Isin and Wood 1999: 19, see also Hussain and Bagguely 2003).

3.8 Identity, culture, tradition and community in this discursive formation which includes academic discourse on the left and the Labour Government's confection of centre-left and centre-right discourses, are seen as unpredictable, recalcitrant and emotionally 'hot' patterns of solidarity (Turner 2002: 58; see also Furedi 2004) in that they are the source of strong emotions, defensive impulses and 'thick' patterns of solidarity. As a result identity, culture and tradition are seen as conducive to prejudice, segregation, mistrust, hatred and overt (fanatical) loyalty. According to Turner, given the complexity and hybridization of modern society, there is no convenient place for 'real' or 'hot' emotions. Instead, the cosmopolitan mentality is 'cool'; characterized by flexibility, 'cool' loyalties and thin patterns of solidarity (Turner 2002: 58-59). What can be observed here is that the process of creating 'cosmopolitan citizens' is to be achieved through the creation of cosmopolitan patriots [5] (Stevenson 2002; 2003), where a balance is struck between loyalty and commitment to particular cultures, traditions and identities which are conducive to the fostering of wider civic and political allegiances. This is an attempt to introduce on the ground what Yuval-Davis described as a 'transversal' or 'dialogic' politics, which is a process involving 'rooting' and 'shifting' in which participants remain 'rooted' in their cultures, traditions, identities and values as long as they demonstrate their willingness to have their views shifted and challenged through dialogue with those who have different cultures, traditions, identities and values (Yuval-Davis 1994: 193). These sociological theories and models dedicated to cooling and diverting allegiances and encouraging more accommodating approaches to political engagement in twenty-first century Britain resonate with the Government's project of encouraging greater integration between all of Britain's multi-cultural, multi-racial and multi-faith communities. According to David Blunkett, in a speech promoting the launch of the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy:

Integration in Britain does not mean assimilation into a common culture so that original identities are lost. Our approach is pragmatic, based on common sense, allowing people to express their identity within a common framework of rights and responsibilities. (Blunkett 2004: 6)

3.9 At the very heart of this project of forging commonality out of the respect for diversity is the promotion of '...a wider concept of active citizenship' (Blunkett 2004: 7). This project of integration with diversity, forged in the allegiance to core principles shared by all, through the effective engagement of responsible 'active citizens' located in 'active communities' is a major component of the Government's project of 'civil renewal' this is at the heart of the Home Office's Strength in Diversity Strategy. That is:

Civil renewal is at the heart of the Government's vision of life in our 21st century communities. It aims to reconnect citizens with the public realm by empowering them to influence the development of solutions to problems affecting them. It is vital that barriers to participation - from lack of confidence and capacity to express one's views to prejudice which lead to exclusion - are tackled so that the aspiration for wider engagement can be translated into reality. (Strength in Diversity consultation strategy 2004: 19)

3.10 It is important to reflect on what is driving this project of civil renewal associated with these strategies dedicated to making the engagement between diverse groups (and between these groups and Government) more effective. According to Giddens (2000) the state and Government do not represent the public domain when they become detached from their roots in civic association. 'Civil society' rather than the state, according to Giddens, supplies the grounding of citizenship and is hence crucial to sustaining an open public sphere (2000: 65). In both the academic discourses and the Home Office derived discourses explored above, there is a shared emphasis on participatory forms of democracy which takes the form of a Republican model of 'popular participation' through dialogue. When this is understood, it is possible to see that the Government's problematization of the weakness of British citizenship is less about identity, culture and tradition per se and more about how identity, culture and tradition might obstruct integration and the emergence of a society of actively engaged citizens. Dialogue in this model is the path to greater understanding and greater participation and hence the means to the ends of the Republican ideal of an actively engaged citizenry. In order for this ideal of participation to be achieved, the barriers to it have to be identified.

3.11 Thus, it seems that, the Home Office's emphasis on forging commitment to 'a common culture', 'shared values' and finding 'common ground' in relation to building community cohesion with response to the Cantle report in the aftermath of the disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in 2001 is giving way somewhat in reports published in 2004 (associated with the Strength in Diversity strategy) to what Appiah describes as the encouragement of commitment to common institutions (Appiah 1998: 102). According to Appiah, the project of arguing out democratically a common culture on which to centre 'our' national life is unnecessary, rather ' live together in a nation, what is required is that we all share a commitment to the organization of the state - the institutions that provide the overarching order of our common life' (Appiah 1998: 102).

3.12 What is emerging in these recent initiatives (especially the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy 2004) is an attempt to ‘manage’what the Government assumes to be the source of non-participation (and potential future disorder) with specific reference to ethnic and religious minority communities. As will be revealed in part 3, the emphasis in relation to the latter is on young ethnic and religious minority people.

Part 3: Strength, Diversity and Young People

Growing inequality makes recognition of common interests more difficult because people are actually becoming less alike in economic terms. (Gilroy 2004: 132).
4.1 The aim of the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy, according to Fiona MacTaggart (the former Parliamentary Under Secretary for Race Equality) is to engage as many people as possible across Government, the wider public services, the private sector and voluntary community organizations, and the general public (particularly young people) in the debate over how to build community cohesion and reduce race inequalities in Britain in order to develop a Government wide Community Cohesion and Race Equality Strategy (MacTaggart 2004: 1-2). At the same time, this consultation strategy, perhaps even more than the archive of Home Office (and related reports) associated with community cohesion and managed migration in asylum and immigration policy since 2002, consists of the Government's blueprint for an inclusive but also active variety of British citizenship:
To build a successful integrated society we need to promote an inclusive concept of citizenship, which goes further than the strictly legal definition of nationality and articulates the rights and responsibilities we share. Building this wider notion of active citizenship through participation, volunteering and civic action, underpinned by a sense of shared values, is one of the main ways in which we can strengthen the relationships and connections between communities. (Strength in Diversity 2004: 6).

4.2 Therefore, building the capacity for effective engagement and forging core values and the common respect for Law, Parliament and Crown are still central components of this latest strategy. However, one major development in the Strength and Diversity consultation strategy relative to the community cohesion and managed migration strategies, is the that the emphasis on 'the cultural' aspects of 'segregation' and 'lack of integration' in these strategies (which are also present in the new strategy) is combined with the Government's concerns in relation to stopping the growth of both political and religious extremism in Britain.

4.3 Whereas the emphasis on young people in the Community Cohesion Review was on citizenship education in schools, school twinning and other 'contact' increasing interventions between White and Muslim-Pakistani young people; the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy takes things much further through making explicit connections between political and religious extremism, young people (especially from ethnic and religious minority communities) and the wider issues of racism, structural inequalities and discrimination.

4.4 This in itself is a significant departure from 'the cultural' ('contact hypothesis') emphasis of community cohesion discourses over the material contexts of segregation and inter-community antagonism (especially in the Community Cohesion Review, see McGhee 2003; 2005). Figures that emerge from the Ethnic Minorities and Labour Market Strategy Unit's report (2003) (quoted in the consultation strategy pamphlet) suggests that black and minority ethnic communities have a higher proportion of young people under twenty-five and that black and minority people are projected to account for over half of the growth in Britain's working age population over the next decade (Strength in Diversity consultation strategy 2004: 4). These figures (as well as some of the indicators that will be listed below) were used by the Government in the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy to justify their focus on attempting to reduce widespread race inequalities.

4.5 For example, ethnic and religious minority groups are disproportionate represented in the most deprived 88 neighbourhoods in England (67% compared to 37% of the white population), the wage gap or 'ethnic penalty' in the Labour Market, and the gap in the levels of educational attainment on the basis of ethnic origin persists despite DfES statistical evidence that indicates some improvement in the educational attainment on the basis of ethnic origin (Strength in Diversity 2004: 13). In the consultation strategy, it was suggested that the inequalities and limited opportunities facing ethnic minority communities was a complex picture this was not simply a question of 'white advantage and minority ethnic disadvantage' as: 'People of all races and religions share experiences of deprivation and disadvantage', but according to the consultation strategy pamphlet 'we know that they affect particular groups more profoundly' (2004: 13). It was suggested that despite the Government's 'huge investments' in regeneration programmes in disadvantaged areas in recent years the scale of disadvantage experience in Black and minority ethnic communities appears to have changed little (Strength in Diversity 2004: 13). Black, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities were singled out as being particularly disadvantaged and relatively untouched by recent public policy strategies. It was suggested in the pamphlet that these communities 'experience disadvantage in different ways' to other minority groups (2004: 13). For example, Quoting from the New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal, National Action Plan study (2001) on ethnic minorities and the labour market, it was suggested that Chinese and Indian people performed on average better than their White peers, while Black people, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis performed significantly worse (Strength in Diversity 2004: 13-14).

4.6 These sorts of findings, especially the attention Pakistani communities in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford have received in recent years, comprise of an alternative discourse of 'segregation' which privileges material factors. This is evident also in locally-based research (and other reports such as the Denham report) conducted in these areas. For example, the wards affected in the disturbances that stretched from Oldham to Bradford are amongst the 20% most deprived in the country and parts of Oldham and Burnley rank in the most deprived 1%. All these wards have average incomes which are amongst the lowest in the country and many of the wards in these areas also have low educational attainment standards in schools (Denham 2002: 8). The other demographic factor that is particularly relevant is that the participants in the disturbances were overwhelmingly men, those arrested were predominantly between 17-26 years old. In Bradford the latter demographic is significant, as unlike the wider demographic picture that emerges from the UK, Bradford has a very young population, with over 50% of its ethnic minority communities being aged under 18 (Allen 2003: 17). One of the problems in Bradford, according to Allen, is that a significant number of young ethnic minority people are entering the Labour Market at precisely the moment that there are significantly fewer jobs available (Allen 2003: 17). The result of this is that second generation ethnic and religious minority young people in Bradford are experiencing persistent unemployment. Six wards in Bradford have long-term (over one-year) unemployment rates of over 25%, with high rates of youth unemployment, in many parts, for example, in the Little Horton ward is over 20% (Allen 2003: 17). These figures give an alternative picture of the context of the disturbances in 2001 which were further exacerbated by the added factors of far-right agitation and a history of oppressive policing in places like Bradford (McGhee 2005: 61-63).

4.7 In relation to the dominate discourses found, especially in the Community Cohesion Review, with regard to Oldham, Burnley and Bradford, Sociologist such as Young and Hussain and Bagguley have, alongside the findings listed above, emphazised alternative explanations (other than merely 'poor' integration) as to why the young Pakistani-Muslim men in these areas took to the streets in the summer of 2001.[6] According to Young, these events cannot simply be reduced to a lack of integration with other cultures, or a crisis of citizenship. Young describes the disturbances as being motivated instead by a lack of citizenship - of 'citizenship thwarted' (Young 2003: 449). For Hussain and Bagguley, what the discourses of community cohesion fail to realize is that the identities of the second generation are hybribized identities, combining as they do elements of South Asian culture, Islam and western culture within their identities as British citizens (Hussain and Bagguley 2003: 15).These young people do not lack a sense of citizenship. They actively create a sense of British citizenship in fusion with other cultures and nations, however, and here is the rub, they expect the natural rights of a 'British born citizen' (Hussain and Bagguley 2003: 1) and incorporate notions of citizenship in all its economic, social and political aspects. This, according to Young, is why discontent is highest among second generation immigrants (2003: 455). The paradox that can be observed here, is that as the second generation become culturally closer to the 'host' and their economic and political aspirations concur with the wider society, at that point, they face both cultural exclusion because of racism and prejudice and become aware of the limits of their economic opportunities in the deprived areas in which they often live (Young 2003: 455). Back et al, echoing Young and Hussain and Bagguley, insists that the 2001 disturbances in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford should be approached as highly complex phenomena that should not be reduced to the 'lack of integration - not assimilated enough' explanations emanating from the Home Office. For Back et al these disturbances must be placed in their context 'in which cultural dialogue, the sharing of standard forms of communication and local vernaculars and divisions exist simultaneously' (Back et al 2002: 10). For Back et al, the young Pakistani men involved in the disturbances were all too well assimilated into a society divided by racism and discrimination (2002: 10) who:

had the same accents and expectations as the white youths who rioted on the other side of the ethnic line. They scarcely needed teaching citizenship or English - they knew full well that bad policing was a violation of their citizenship just as was a drastic exclusion from the national job markets. (Young 2003: 458).

4.8 Whereas, the critique of community cohesion discourses produced by the Sociologists above focuses on the misguided foci of 'lack of integration' and 'weak citizenship' to the neglect of the material aspects of second generation resentment; in the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy a better balance is being struck between 'the cultural' and 'the material' with the added emphasis on the relationship between these factors and the threat of political extremism is some of Britain's disadvantaged multi-ethnic areas. That is,

In many areas, the diversity within and between communities has been a source of rich cultural interactions, but in other areas segregation has led to fear and conflict, which has been exacerbated by political extremists who capitalise on insecurities to promote their own narrow objectives. Structural inequalities and the legacy of discrimination have resulted in whole groups that are effectively left behind, with young people failing to share in the opportunities that should be available to all, which in turn fuels their disengagement from mainstream society and creates pathways to extremism. (Strength in Diversity consultation strategy 2004: 5).

4.9 What is significant about the above is that the context of segregation and the material aspects of discrimination and inequality are also being prioritized.[7] The emphasis here is not exclusively on how to integrate 'established' and 'new' migrant communities more (although these are central components of the consultation strategy) adequate attention is also given to the material and structural aspects of segregation. It will be interesting to see exactly where the balance will fall as a result of the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy and the Government's intention to develop a Community Cohesion and Race Equality strategy (see below). There is every reason to believe that in the latter the structural aspects of segregation will be given some consideration, however, the emphasis of the strategy will, as it was in the various community cohesion reviews and strategies, be on migrant communities (whether 'new' or 'established') to the neglect of the disadvantaged White 'host' communities who play a significant part in the social problems of segregation, inter-community disorder (in relation to both 'established' and 'new' migrant communities) and their recourse to political extremism, if the 2004 Local and European Election figures are to be believed, with nearly one million people voting for the BNP (Blunkett 2004). Despite references to the two-way process of successful integration 'with responsibilities on both the migrant and the community that welcomes them' and forceful statements that stipulate that this two-way process is to be encouraged through 'providing practical support to overcome barriers to integration, both for the individuals newly arrived in Britain and for the local community into which they are being welcomed' (Strength in Diversity consultation strategy 4.10 The perception that the profound material disadvantages that ethnic and religious minority communities face are to be a significant component of the Government's forthcoming Community Cohesion and Race Equality strategy which is currently being rolled out by the new Home Secretary Charles Clarke with the launch (in January 2005) of the Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society strategy for increasing race equality and community cohesion[8] despite how necessary and well-meaning a programme such as this is. That is, one-sided approaches that focus on improving the opportunities of ethnic and religious minority groups to the seeming exclusion of other disadvantaged groups such as disadvantaged White communities could have the affect of reducing community cohesion rather than increasing it through these communities turning to far-right political organizations, that are all too eager to exploit, exaggerate and distort one-sided 'multicultural' public policy.

4.11 Perhaps the debate with regard to strategies such as these need to move beyond accusations from the liberal left that considering the disadvantaged White reaction to policies dedicated to alleviating race inequality is 'pandering to racists' which are mirrored by the far-right's' description of such policies as 'pandering to minority groups'. What should be at the centre of such strategies is a well-balanced strategy that 'panders' to all disadvantaged groups at the frontline of integration. By focusing on one source of future risk (that is, the potential for disorder amongst younger ethnic and religious minority groups) the Government could inadvertently feed the political extremism taking root in many disadvantaged White communities, which was a considerable concern in the run up to the General Election in 2005.

4.12 Thus, the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy (and the subsequent Improving opportunity, Strengthening Society strategy), like the community cohesion discourses and managed migration strategies are too fixated on the lack of integration, lack of equality and lack of engagement of ethnic and religious minority groups. This is in turn related to concerns that the Government's focus on ethnic and religious migrant communities in the community cohesion and managed migration discourses in recent years amounts to a racialization of lack (Van Loon 2002: 175). Lack is the organizing theme of these discourses which is in turn a central component in the construction of the social problems associated with the failure of integration, especially when these social problems are in turn associated with a particular risk consciousness that haunts these strategies. This is evident in the Home Office's suggestion that 'failure to ensure the successful integration of those settling in the UK today will store up problems for future generations' (Secure Borders 2002: 28). Statements such as these concerning the risk of more 'second generation backlashes' to unfold in the future unless something is done about 'migration' is evidence of the more urgent risk management strategy focused on ethnic and religious minorities which is hidden amongst the promises of a revitalized Britain unified in its diversity. Perhaps it would be more honest if the Government owned up to this risk-management strategy it could then attempt to allocate resources to all of the disadvantaged communities (White as well as ethnic and religious minorities) in some of the areas in Britain most in need of investment instead of dressing up the strategy with the paraphernalia of revitalizing citizenship.

Part 4: Reaching out to Young Muslims

The conceptual mapping of 'the Muslim menace' which links suicide bombers with extremist Muslim clerics and recent 'riots', articulates a very specific imagination of 'the Muslim community' in Britain - one which is marked by both gendered and generational difference. (Alexander 2003: 3).
5.1 2004 was a very busy year for the Home Office. As well as producing the numerous components of the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy in order to launch the Improving opportunities strategy in January 2005; the Home Office’s Faith Communities Unit also produced a report that reviewed the findings of a Steering Group that was set up to review the patterns of engagement between Government and faith Communities in England. The title of the resulting document was Working Together: Co-Operation Between Government and Faith Communities published in February 2004. Whereas the Strength in Diversity strategy focused on building a model of British citizenship suitable to the social context of twenty-first century simultaneous with the project of attempting to address the problem of race inequality (also associated with the Improving Opportunities strategy); the Working Together report can be described as comprising of a strategy, similar to the community cohesion agenda in which increasing contact between different communities (in this case faith-communities) and encouraging effective dialogue between these different faith groups, and between faith groups and Government (Local and Central Government) is seen as a solution to increasing polarization between communities in the post-9/11 context.

5.2 At the centre of the recommendations included in this report is the Government's increasingly urgent project of getting Muslim communities to take a stand against extremism and terrorism. The Working Together report can be described as yet another component of the Home Office's rather anxious risk management strategy dedicated to ethnic and religious minority groups. According to David Blunkett, '...there has never been a more pressing need for productive and respectful engagement between public authorities and faith communities...' (in, Working Together 2004: Foreword). The Working Together strategy, as the title suggests, offers recommendations for improving the effectiveness and increasing the contact between faith communities (through membership of inter-faith organizations), however, the overwhelming emphasis of this report is on improving the relationship between faith communities and Government. The latter is to be achieved through recommendations in the report for the transformation of the landscape of faith-based organizations in order to improve the Government's consultation with faith communities. This is to be achieved through encouraging faith communities to form (if they have not already) over-arching 'umbrella' organizations that represent and include all groups, traditions and denominations in wider faith communities. A significant proportion of the Working Together report is dedicated to the question of representativeness, in particular ensuring that 'harder to reach groups' such as women and young people are represented in these umbrella organizations. Reaching young people and including young people in such organizations, especially in consultation with Government is seen as being of paramount importance in this and related reports to emerge in 2004 and 2005 especially in relation to counter-terrorism.[9] One such report is the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report: Terrorism and Community Relations (2005). The overwhelming focus of the Home Affairs Committee's concern in relation to terrorism in contemporary Britain is on young people, especially young Muslim people. According to Home Affairs Committee, the Faith Communities Unit's insistence that Central and Local Government should reach and engage young people, in order to increase the representativeness of faith-based organizations is only half the story. The Home Affairs Committee saw the increased participation of young people in consultation with Government through their membership of faith-based umbrella organizations is very much a 'kill two birds with one stone' strategy associated with: (1) increasing the presence and influence of younger members of faith communities but is also (2) part of the 'struggle of ideas' (9/11 Commission 2004: 375) dedicated to reaching young people, especially Muslim young people, before extremist do. That is:

A forward looking programme should include measures to ensure that central policy is properly understood at local levels, as well as work to establish what may be the causes of a very small number of young Britons turning to violently extremist groups and measures to address them and a programme to engage schools and young people in a discussion of these issues. In particular, the Government must engage British Muslims in its anti-terrorist strategy. (Home Affairs Committee 2005: 60).

5.3 According to the Home Affairs Committee, the solution to various problems in the post-9/11 context in which some young Muslims are becoming 'radicalized' and the members of Muslim communities in Britain are being treated like 'suspect communities' as a result of counter-terrorism provisions associated with the introduction of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 is to combine the Home Office's current counter-terrorism strategy with the already existing community cohesion strategies (Home Affairs Committee 2005: 33).

5.4 Engaging and involving 'detached' and excluded groups, creating the infrastructure for dialogue, generating debates on British citizenship, finding common ground, establishing shared core values and greater allegiance to Government, Law and other public institutions, reducing inequalities and increasing opportunities; are all components of each of the strategies and areas of public policy examined in this paper. Each one of these strategies from community cohesion, managed migration, strength in diversity to engaging young Muslims in the war against terrorism are all part of the Government's broader project of attempting to prepare for an unpredictable, and perhaps disordered future. All of these strategies add up to a particular risk consciousness, which is observable through the discourses associated with explicit proactive strategies which focus on preventing increased inequality and polarization taking hold in the Britain of the future. Young ethnic and religious minority people, especially young Muslim men are at the epi-centre of this consciousness. What is being emphasised is the potential role these young people will play in future second and increasingly third generation backlashes and terrorist activities.[10]


6.1 It remains to be seen whether the Strength in Diversity and Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society strategies will strike the right balance between attempting to revitalize British citizenship through the process of re-traditionalization beyond the rhetoric of multiculturalism with the strategy of reducing the material aspects of young ethnic and religious minority social exclusion. The four inter-related areas of public policy under investigation here (community cohesion, managed migration, strength in diversity/improving opportunities and engaging young Muslims in counter-terrorism strategies) comprise a particular discursive formation that is enveloping the United Kingdom. Discourse, are of course powerful. The power of discourse resides, in part, in relation to the competition between discourses, especially when one set of discourses dominates and marginalizes other, alternative discourses. The discourses that have been institutionalized into public policies in relation to the alleged social problems of 'weak integration' and 'segregation' in areas of the United Kingdom have proved to be particularly influential in policy terms in that discourses generated by the Cantel-chaired Community Cohesion Review (and related reports) have been co-opted into other areas of public policy including asylum and immigration policy, and more recently counter-terrorism strategies. These discourses are also central to the process whereby the Government has been attempting to re-vitalize British citizenship and re-traditionalize British patriotism since the disturbances in the summer of 2001.

6.2 One certainty remains that effective engagement between communities rarely occurs in the context of competition for scarce resources and services. It is unlikely that the successful integration of diverse communities and encouraging dialogue between them en route to forging their common allegiance to core principles and commitment to public institutions of law and state is an obtainable objective of any Government. However, what Governments can do is to attempt to alleviate some of the material aspects associated with segregation, disengagement and recourse to defensive and extremist solutions evident in all disadvantaged communities. At the same time 'the young ethnic and religious minority risk management strategy' that is currently focused on young Muslim men at the centre of many of these inter-related strategies sends out mixed messages in relation to why building community cohesion and managing integration are necessary in contemporary Britain. For example, is building community cohesion desirable in itself or is the strategy of building community cohesion merely a response to Britain allegedly being held to ransom by the threat of future disorder associated with ethnic and religious minorities? If the threat of future disorder and the threat of increasing political and religious extremism is at the heart of these 'integration' strategies then the Government should be wary of prioritizing one potential source of disorder (for example, ethnic and religious minority young people) to the neglect of others (for example, 'far right susceptible' disadvantaged White communities).


1 For example, The Independent Review in Oldham 2001, the Task Force Review in Burnley 2001, and the District Race Review in Bradford 2001, The Cantel Report: Community Cohesion Review 2001, Guidance on Community Cohesion Report 2002, The Denham Report: Building Cohesive Communities 2002. For a more detailed analysis of this archive of reports (see McGhee 2005).

2 Subsequently the Life in the United Kingdom Advisory Group (Chaired by Sir Bernard Crick), in their report The New and the Old (2003) has proposed that after living in Britain for 3 years applicants for British citizenship will be set English language and citizenship tests. On the 26 February 2004, sixteen adults and three children took part in the first ever citizenship ceremony in Brent North London in Britain with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Home Secretary in attendance (10 Downing Street 2003) Citizenship ceremonies have been piloted in eight areas: Brent, Wandsworth, Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Kent, Oldham and Telford, and Wrekin, before being rolled out across the country from January 2004 (10 Downing Street 2004).

3 This strategy consists of three components The Strength in Diversity consultation strategy pamphlet, the Strength in Diversity consultation strategy toolkit, and a special Strength in Diversity consultation strategy pamphlet for young people all published in June 2004. In part 3 of the paper, the emphasis on young people in the strength in Diversity consultation process will be examined.

4 Parekh is referring to the 'One Nation' discourse found in the Home Office report: Race Equality in Public Services, published in March 2000; where the Government declared its commitment to creating a country where 'every colour is a good colour...every member of every part of society is able to fulfil their potential...racism is unacceptable and counteracted...everyone is treated according to their needs and rights...everyone recognizes their responsibilities...and racial diversity is celebrated' (in, Parekh 2000: 40).

5 This is not a process of 'bottom-up', grass roots cosmopolitanism which Clifford describes as 'discrepant cosmopolitanism' (Clifford 1992, Cheah 1998). Nor is it a process whereby individuals are to be attached to supra-national right-based collectivities 'larger than the state' as in the Kantian model (Cheah 1998 24). The process under examination here is a top-down, Government generated project that involves what Beck describes as re-traditionalization alongside the process of 'cosmopolitanization' that is the opening up to the other through dialogue (Beck 2002). For a fuller discussion of the latter see McGhee 2005.

6 See also McGhee (2003) for a further critique of 'the cultural' focus of community cohesion discourses and strategies.

7 In the Community Cohesion Review and the Local Government Association's Guidance on Community Cohesion, the emphasis is on cultural factors related to the lack of contact between communities in culturally disharmonious areas such as Oldham, Burnley and Bradford. What is not emphasized enough in these reports are the contributory factors such as poverty, exclusion from the workforce and exclusion from consumption patterns in which these cultural problems are contextualized.

8 This being said in the Community Cohesion Review report the overwhelming emphasis is firmly focused on 'cultural recognition', 'cultural respect' and the opening up of the channels of communication between 'cultural groups' rather than dealing with perceived and actual material deprivation. The Oldham Independent Review (2001) and the Burnley Task Force Review (2001) do include more references to deprivation indexes, unemployment and the structural problems associated with these areas than these more high profile 'national' reports. The Denham Report (Building Community Cohesion 2002) also includes references to deprivation and disadvantage in relation to employment, education and housing in these areas. However, the Denham Report like the Community Cohesion Review does emphasize or at least prioritize cultural factors over material factors. This strategy was launched on the 19th January 2005 by the current Home Secretary, Charles Clarke. The full title of the strategy is; Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's Strategy to Increase Race equality and Community Cohesion (2005a). According to the Home Office,

This strategy sets out one strand of the Government's overall drive to improve fairness and opportunities for all in Britain: how we will ensure that a person's ethnicity is not a barrier to their success and how we foster the cohesion necessary to enable people from minority and majority communities to work together for social and economic progress." (Home Office 2005b).

9 The author is currently writing an article on the recommendations made in a number of recent reports (including the Working Together report) in particular the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report Terrorism and Community Relations (2005) and the Local Government Associations Community Cohesion Action Guide (2004). The emphasis of this paper is on the recommendations for increasing the co-operation of Muslim communities in Britain against terrorism. I describe this strategy in this article as 'the other counter-terrorism strategy' which attempts to combine the principles of community cohesion in a 'broader' counter-terrorism strategy.

10 On the day on that The Commission on Muslims and Islamophobia published its Islamophobia: issues, challenges and action report in 2004. The chair of the Commission, Dr Richard Stone, released the following statement: 'if we don't take positive action to embrace the young Muslim men in this country, we are going to have an urgent problem...we are going to have real anger and riots with young Muslims pitched against the police' (in, Doward and Hinsliff 2004: 2).


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