Race Relations in Britain: A Developing Agenda

Race Relations in Britain: A Developing Agenda

Race Relations in Britain: A Developing Agenda

Race Relations in Britain: A Developing Agenda


Bringing together distinguished experts in the field of race relations this book addresses questions which are increasingly relevant in the current socio-political context of Great Britain. The kind of visions of multicultural Britain which are currently being canvassed and the problems which ethnic minorities continue to face are addressed, together with an examination of the new policy initiatives which are needed to tackle these problems. Race Relations in Britain falls into three parts which: * analyse contemporary trends, articulating a vision of multicultural Britain and exploring important theoretical controversies * identify the obstacles that stand in the way of a racism-free Britain, looking at current policy in areas such as immigration, employment, education, the criminal justice system as well as the role of the media * offer a vision of a multi-cultural Britain, advancing new policies based on current research.


Bhikhu Parekh

A multicultural society, that is, a society which includes several distinct cultural, ethnic and religious communities, needs to find ways of reconciling two equally legitimate and sometimes conflicting demands. Its minority communities generally cherish and wish to preserve and transmit their ways of life. A society, however, cannot last long without some degree of cohesion and a sense of common belonging. It also has its own way of life which it is equally anxious to preserve. This raises the question as to how it should integrate its minorities and organise its collective life so that it satisfies their legitimate aspirations without losing its unity and continuity. In this chapter I do two things. First, I outline and assess the adequacy of the various models of integration canvassed in the literature on the subject, and second, I use my theoretical analysis of these models to elucidate the manner in which Britain has sought to integrate its ethnic minorities.


Broadly speaking a political community can integrate its minorities in one of five ways. Although these modes or models overlap, they are distinct enough to be distinguished for analytical purposes.

First, one might argue that in a culturally diverse society the state should be culturally neutral as otherwise it would end up preferring and enforcing one culture or way of life, thereby both treating other cultures unequally and subjecting them to an unacceptable degree of moral coercion. The state should be a purely formal institution pursuing no substantive goals of its own and requiring no more of its citizens than that they accept the established structure of authority and obey the law. Such a state gives its citizens, including the minorities, the maximum possible freedom to live the way they like and also ensures unity and cohesion. The minorities are free to embrace the majority way of life, or to do so only partially, or to evolve a synthetic way of life, or to lead totally isolated and self-contained lives,

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