Race, Ethnicity and Difference: Imagining the Inclusive Society

Race, Ethnicity and Difference: Imagining the Inclusive Society

Race, Ethnicity and Difference: Imagining the Inclusive Society

Race, Ethnicity and Difference: Imagining the Inclusive Society

Synopsis

"This excellent book... provides an extremely readable account which deserves to be widely read by a more general audience. In short, the author, in making sense of current imaginings, presents a mix of theoretical and empirical debates, as he challenges exclusionary forces. The book's principal aim is to take a critical look at the nature and sources of inequalities in contemporary societies and examine the prospects for an 'inclusive society'. This aim captures an important strength of the text, as the analysis attempts to move beyond simple description and provide explanations and possible solutions to enable policy and practice to tackle disadvantage and discrimination." Social Policy This book addresses many of the key problems facing contemporary societies. The social significance attached to various forms of difference, most notably 'race' and ethnicity has been seen as resulting in the 'exclusion' of some groups from various their rights as citizens. This, in turn, is viewed as presenting a series of barriers to the creation of more inclusive societies. These arguments are explored in the context in a variety of substantive contexts, for example, immigration and the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, housing and segregation, education, labour markets, and policing and urban conflict. This lively and highly readable account deals with very difficult theoretical and policy issues without resort to unnecessary jargon. It is essential reading for undergraduate students in sociology, social policy, urban geography, law and political science, and is also of value to the general reader and researcher.

Excerpt

W. E. B. DuBois, the celebrated American civil rights activist and writer, saw the principal challenge of the twentieth century as that of finding a solution to the problem of the 'color line'. As we move into the twenty-first century, not only is this solution proving elusive, the challenges have grown ever more complex and apparently intractable. The irony is that the key question can still be expressed with remarkable simplicity. Alain Touraine, the French social theorist, did so in his most recent book: he asks 'Can We Live Together?' (Touraine 2000).

Only a few years into the new millennium, the global implications are evident. The events of 11 September 2001, the subsequent war in Afghanistan, the 'war' on terrorism, and the assault on the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq amply attest to the importance of finding answers to Touraine's question. Closer to home (for those of us based in the UK) there are ongoing concerns about the state of relations between Protestant and Catholic communities in Northern Ireland, and the apparent political void created by the impasse in the Peace Talks.

It is tempting to rush to simplistic diagnoses of these problems. Deepseated religious enmities represent the prime candidate in these cases. The genocide in Rwanda towards the end of the last century was largely interpreted as a result of conflict between two major ethnic groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. In the Balkan wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the popular view was that these were the result of a desire for separate nation status for such peoples as the Croatians, Slovenians, Bosnians and Kosovans. A key subtheme was once again religion, in the form of age-old conflict between Muslim and Christian. Roughly the same ingredients were identified in interpretations of the ongoing war in Chechnya.

Whilst there is certainly a kernel of truth in all these hypotheses, none comes close to providing a convincing sociological explanation. It is the primary purpose of this volume to provide the reader with the tools to find better answers to arguably the most pressing questions of global society. In most cases, it will be seen that divisions are rooted in forms of 'difference' conceptualized in terms of 'race', ethnicity, culture, religion and nation; invariably mediated by issues of class, status, power and gender. None of these have a reality independent of history. An appreciation, where relevant, of the impact of colonialism, imperialism and slavery will therefore contextualize the analysis.

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