Integration and Community Cohension: a critique of the dominant discourse in the UK
Sociology University of Warwick Coventry, UK
Since the summer of 2001, when serious unrest and conflict broke out in a number of multi-ethnic towns and cities, UK social policy has been dominated by the idea that such divisions can, and should, be addressed within a new paradigm. Under the banner of "community cohesion", the stated aim is to generate an "integrated and cohesive" society.
This paper aims to interrogate both the substance and the political and policy discourse underpinning this approach. In this context, it seeks to do two things. First, it contextualises the core debates within a (New) Labour agenda that has chosen to eschew a clear ideological break from neo-liberalism. Secondly, it interrogates the commonly held view that policies driven by the idea of "cohesion" not only address the immediate problems of urban and social unrest but also undermine racism and associated exclusionary practices, in particular discrimination (both of an individual and institutional nature) on grounds of "race", ethnicity and faith.