British multiculturalism is alleged to have buckled under various Muslim‐related pressures. Indeed, some intellectuals, commentators and politicians of different political persuasions have pointed to evidence of a ‘retreat’ to be found in an increased governmental emphasis upon ‘integration’ and ‘social cohesion’. One response to these developments, from defenders of diversity‐related politics, has comprised a discursive reorientation of British multiculturalism to focus upon an anti‐essentialist ‘multiculture’ that can transcend the alleged hitherto reification of British multiculturalism. This article offers an alternative appraisal of British multiculturalism. We contest the idea that British multiculturalism is subject to a wholesale ‘retreat’ and suggest instead that it has been, and continues to be, subject to a productive critique that is resulting in something best characterised as a ‘civic re‐balancing’. Simultaneously, and rather than seeking comfort in a depoliticised ‘multiculture’ view, we defend the ideal of a dynamic political multiculturalism, comprised of a body of discourses and policies originating from a racial equality paradigm inaugurated by the first Race Relations Act (1965). It is argued that this tradition has successfully and legislatively embedded a recognition of ‘difference’– with the goal of promoting equality of access and opportunity – into Britain's self‐image which has led to some significant accommodations for certain groups. Muslim minorities are currently appealing to this tradition as one means of achieving greater civic inclusion.
The concept of intersectionality was developed by social scientists seeking to analyse the multiple interacting influences of social location, identity and historical oppression. Despite broad take-up elsewhere, its application in public health remains underdeveloped. We consider how health inequalities research in the United Kingdom has predominantly taken class and later socioeconomic position as its key axis in a manner that tends to overlook other crucial dimensions. We especially focus on international research on ethnicity, gender and caste to argue that an intersectional perspective is relevant for health inequalities research because it compels researchers to move beyond (but not ignore) class and socioeconomic position in analysing the structural determinants of health. Drawing on these theoretical developments, we argue for an inter-categorical conceptualisation of social location that recognises differentiation without reifying social groupings – thus encouraging researchers to focus on social dynamics rather than social categories, recognising that experiences of advantage and disadvantage reflect the exercise of power across social institutions. Such an understanding may help address the historic tendency of health inequalities research to privilege methodological issues and consider different axes of inequality in isolation from one another, encouraging researchers to move beyond micro-level behaviours to consider the structural drivers of inequalities
This article reports on a study of mediatised public discourses on nationhood, citizenship, and gender in Britain, and analyses the ways in which these accounts may be utilised in the cultivation of particular kinds of social identities. We distinguish our approach at the outset from other lines of inquiry to report on a macro level exploration of an event in which these value discourses were operative, namely the national the press reaction to the former Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's 2006 comments on the Muslim face-veil or niqab. The article traces and analyses the interactions and intersections of completing but overlapping accounts of nationhood, citizenship, and characterisations of the role of Muslim women. It identifies interdependent clusters of responses that illustrate the ways in which the niqab is a 'contested signifier' in contemporary social and political life, and the ways in which nationhood, citizenship, and gender feature prominently in its signification.
In this article, we consider the implications of the ‘Prevent’ strand of the government’s counter-terrorism strategy for the UK state’s engagement with Muslims. We argue that the logics of Prevent have been highly problematic for state–Muslim engagement. Nevertheless, we suggest that the characterisation of state approaches to engaging Muslims as a form of discipline is incomplete without an analysis of: first, differences in practices, habits and perspectives across governance domains; second, variations in approach and implementation between levels of governance; and third, the agency of Muslims who engage with the state. Through this approach we show how attention to the situated practices of governance reveals the contested nature of governing through Prevent.
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