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Meaningful encounters? Religion and social cohesion in the English primary school

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Abstract:

Recent debates about state-funded faith schools in England have focused on the way in which they either promote or discourage social cohesion between different cultural, ethnic and religious groups. While one argument suggests that children must experience interfaith and intercultural encounters in order to understand each other, another insists that values of tolerance and acceptance can instead be taught as part of the curriculum. Despite this, much research to date has tended to focus on macro-processes such as selection procedures and residential segregation at the expense of micro-processes within school space itself. This article seeks to address this conspicuous lack of empirical research, by drawing on qualitative fieldwork in a state-funded Community primary school and Roman Catholic primary school located in multi-faith districts of an urban area in the North of England. It will examine a number of ways in which the two schools tried to encourage positive and meaningful encounters between children of different religious backgrounds, as well as the extent to which such attempts were successful. The article will focus particularly on the role of bodies and emotions in making sense of these processes.

Keywords: children; emotions; encounters; religion; schools; social cohesion

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14649360903514384

Affiliations: Centre for Human Geography, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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