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Interpreting 'community cohesion': modes, means and mixes

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Often portrayed as a struggle between 'multiculturalism' and 'assimilation', the community cohesion agenda actually connects with broader currents in the New Labour policy programme. Three contrasting, yet overlapping, 'modes' of community cohesion are identified: communitarian, republican and neoliberal. These prioritise, respectively, moral, political and economic 'means' of achieving greater cohesion. Different 'mixes' are found in practice, varying in relation to policy goals, and over time and across localities. Despite the change of government in 2010, the three modes continue to structure the range of policy options on offer, and continuing practice on the ground. Beyond Britain, the agenda is being picked up in an increasing range of international contexts. An understanding of the ideational underpinnings of community cohesion allows for a more nuanced analysis of policy design and implementation, and provides a heuristic for future comparative and longitudinal research.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-10-01

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