In a global context of an emphasis on identity politics and a ‘cultural turn’ in social analysis, deep concern has been expressed about multiethnic Britain becoming a broken society with many ‘sleepwalking’ into segregation and separatism. Given the close correspondence between areas of acute ethnic segregation and those of multiple deprivation, intercommunal tensions have included disputes about the equitable allocation of scarce urban resources across ethnicity. This creates the possibility that urban programmes may inadvertently accentuate intercommunal tension and confound efforts to synchronise cohesion and inclusion agendas. Following recent debates about the implications of increased diversity, influenced by arguments that multiculturalism has encouraged ‘parallel lives’, an emergent policy framework emphasises more proactive integration to promote ‘common belonging’. Criticism of this agenda includes its confusion between community and social cohesion, and its disproportionate focus on cultural aspects such as identity formation and recognition, relative to structural issues of income and class. In exploring this contested terrain in Britain, the article suggests that the longer-term debate about segregation, deprivation and community differentials in Northern Ireland can offer useful insight for Britain’s policy discourse.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
- Urban Studies