‘Interculturalism – the new era of cohesion and diversity’ by Ted Cantle

Following her introduction to a Friday Room discussion, Daphne Beale posts this review of Ted Cantle’s book,  followed by her notes for discussion.

After a thoughtful introduction Ted Cantle divides his well researched and attributed book into the following sections:

2.    Globalisation and ‘Super Diversity’
With subheadings: the dimensions of globalisation, cohesion and solidarity – the ‘paradox of diversity’, globalisation and identity, from tribal to international affinities.

In this he looks at: the multiplicity of identities that many people now have based on factors such as nationality, place of birth, religion, ethnicity or where you live.

3.    Reforming the Notion of Identity
With subheadings: the changing national context of identity, ‘mixed race’: the legacy of racial constructs, Muslim communities and retrenchment, multiple, dynamic and choice-based identities.

In this he looks at: the challenges to class consciousness, ‘mixed race’ increasing despite community opposition, the ‘Muslim problem’ and the assumption that they are a homogenous community, the rise of ‘far right’ groups.

4.    The ‘Failure’ of Multiculturalism
With subheadings: early and ‘defensive’ forms of multiculturalism, progressive multiculturalism, ‘state multiculturalism’, multiculturalism and ‘race’, Far Right and populist appeal, the transition of multiculturalism to interculturalism.

In this he looks at: how it reinforced differences though necessary at first, segregation often blamed on minorities, early definitions, current segregation eg in education, the lack of vision of a future society, the notion of ‘inferiority.

“Integration is perhaps rather a loose word, I do not regard it as meaning the loss, by immigrants, of their own national characteristics and culture. I do not think that we need in this country a ‘melting-pot’, which will turn everybody out into a common mould, as one of a series of carbon copies of someone’s misplaced vision of the stereotyped Englishman. I define integration, therefore, not as a flattening process but as equal opportunity accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance. This is the goal. We may fall a little short of its full attainment, as have other communities both in the past and in the present. But if we are to maintain any sort of world reputation for civilized living and social cohesion, we must get fat nearer to its achievement that is the case today.” Roy Jenkins 1966

“Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong” and “We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.” David Cameron 2011

5.    The Contribution of ‘Community Cohesion’
With subheadings: conceptual and practical development, cohesion and interaction, developing a commitment to cohesion and a new narrative of place.

In this he looks at: the producing of a positive vision of community at a local level, local government involvement, meaningful interaction within communities.

6.    Segregation and Integration – And Why They Matter
With subheadings: the domains of segregation and integration, spatial segregation and integration, social and cultural segregation and integration, functional segregation and integration, values and segregation and integration.

In this he looks at: the domains of segregation eg spatial – ‘clustered communities’, exclusive areas; social and cultural – how and where people interact; functional – citizenship rights, employment rights, access to public services and the criminal justice system.

7.    Interculturalism: Conceptualisation
With subheadings: the concept of interculturalism, interculturality and intercultural dialogue, perspectives of interculturalism, interculturalism and openness, interculturalism and difference, towards interculturalism.

In this he looks at: the reduction of prejudice through dialogue; looking at justice and equality particularly between majority and minority communities; changes in culture brought about by interaction; guiding principles for peaceful co-existence (p 157); the Migrant Integration Policy Index (p158-9); access to services; openness of the institutional framework, the business environment, civil society and public space (p 161); the effects of openness on the ‘host’ community; the areas of ‘difference’ and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). Pages 171-175 give a summary of this chapter.

8.    Interculturalism: Policy and Practice
With subheadings: leadership and vision, the politics of identity, secularism and governance in multifaith societies, responding to segregation and integration, the development of cultural navigational skills and intercultural competences.

In this he looks at: the effect of globalisation on identity(p181); the undermining of the power of nation states (p183); the effect on faith organisations of interfaith marriage (p184); the divisiveness of having one state-established faith and faith based schools (p184-5); the assumption that communities are single minded when appointing community leaders to speak on their behalf (p186); the divisiveness of tick boxes for ethnicity etc (p187); the need for a secular (but not non-religious) society (p188); the place of morality in decision making (p192); the reasons for, and effects of, segregation (p195); mixed communities and equality (p196); the need for real interaction (p197); celebrating differences (p198); the advantages of intercultural cities in social and economic terms (p200); should the ‘host’ culture be protected (p202); the inevitability of change (p204); making change less threatening (p206); training in thinking and educating internationally (p208-210); changing mindsets, thinking, planning and acting interculturally (p212).

“It is about envisioning the world as we want it to be, rather than determined by our separate past histories.” (p212)

Friday Room discussion in ‘Interculturalism’ 28 June 2013

I based the first part of the evening on Ted Cantle’s book ‘Interculturalism – the new era of cohesion and diversity’. See separate paper for my analysis of that book.

From the book I took 5 major themes

1.    Globalisation and new notions of identity.

The effect of the internet connections and multinational companies on:
the reduction of power of national governments,
their lack of control of market forces,
the capitalising of the far right on this by attempting to manufacture a national identity,
people’s sense of identity based on an increasing variety of factors, eg country of birth, nationality, present location, faith, race, ethnicity, language or gender,
feelings of ‘difference’ and the threat of loss of a coherent identity,

2.    Segregation and the breakdown of divisions.

Both are happening at the same time.
Segregation increased by: faith schools, areas of deprivation, white flight, special accommodation for the disabled, centres for particular faith or ethnic communities.

Breakdown of barriers: between employers and employees, between different faiths and ethnic groups (inter-marriage plays its part), wider representation on local councils and in parliament.

3.    Multiculturalism.

This was a concept born of increased immigration mainly to protect people from discrimination, abuse and violence, eg the Race Relations Act 1976, and to give them access to services. Initially this was mainly dealing with issues of race. I have misgivings about the use of multiculturalism, I would prefer to talk of a multi cultural society.

Ted Cantle uses the following quotations to indicate the changes in thinking.

“Integration is perhaps rather a loose word, I do not regard it as meaning the loss, by immigrants, of their own national characteristics and culture. I do not think that we need in this country a ‘melting-pot’, which will turn everybody out into a common mould, as one of a series of carbon copies of someone’s misplaced vision of the stereotyped Englishman. I define integration, therefore, not as a flattening process but as equal opportunity accompanied by cultural diversity in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance. This is the goal. We may fall a little short of its full attainment, as have other communities both in the past and in the present. But if we are to maintain any sort of world reputation for civilized living and social cohesion, we must get fat nearer to its achievement that is the case today.” Roy Jenkins 1966

“Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong” and “We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values.” David Cameron 2011

4.    Community cohesion

This policy was designed to promote meaningful interaction between groups.
It operated mainly in bringing people together in local areas.
Government money with local implementation produced good results, but did not extend outside the local.

5    Interculturalism

I challenge whether this is a new idea!

The main themes appear to be:
The need for dialogue to open people’s minds
The need to address issues of justice and equality
The encouragement of openness
The sharing of public spaces, institutions and the business environment
The need for a secular – not non religious – society, and morality in decision making
The celebration of differences
Accepting the inevitability of change and making it less threatening
The need for education in thinking internationally
The need for all thinking, planning and acting at local community, local government and national government levels to be done interculturally.

At this point time was given for discussion

After the discussion on these points including thoughts about the nature of the society we would want, how we balance our emotional and rational responses in decision making etc, I concluded with some thoughts from my own experience of community and interfaith work from 1975. I had worked in a multicultural and multifaith society all through that time both in Loughborough and in Nottingham. We carefully distinguished in our work with people from different faith backgrounds between a multifaith gathering when every group took a part and an interfaith gathering where we were relating to each other and sharing the planning.

Maybe we need to be sure of the kind of society we want to work towards and how we encourage people to share the vision. How does our vision become a political reality.

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