Challenging Multiculturalism: European Models of Diversity

By Raymond Taras | Go to book overview

Chapter Four
The ‘Civic Re-balancing’ of British
Multiculturalism, and Beyond …

Nasar Meer and Tariq Modood

I used to believe that multiculturalism was bound sooner or later to sink
under the weight of its intellectual weaknesses … There is no sign of any
collapses so far. (Barry 2001: 6)

To be quite honest, living through this period of organized mendacity has
been one of the least agreeable ordeals that we conservatives have had to
undergo. (Scruton 2010: 50)

Like all family quarrels the tone of some interested commentators is
predictably angry and self-righteous. (Parekh 2006: 169)


Introduction

In an earlier study of citizenship and multiculturalism in Britain, we came to the conclusion that contemporary revisions of British multiculturalism were evidence of a ‘civic re-balancing’ (Meer and Modood 2009; and described below). In retrospect, it may have been more appropriate to term what we were describing as a ‘civic thickening’, given the steady incorporation of diversity into British practices and institutional life. The argument over the change in the character of British multiculturalism was subsequently taken up by Banting and Kymlicka (2010); Faas (2011); Rodriguez-Garcia (2010); Mansouri and Pietsch (2011) and Kivisto (2012), among others.

Our reading stood in marked contrast to an emerging thesis proposed by some commentators pointing to a ‘post-multicultural’ era, or at least to a ‘retreat’ from multiculturalism (Joppke 2004). While we agree that the term has become politically damaged, we also recognize that the policies and discourses that make up the strands of British multiculturalism remain in place (see also Meer and Modood, in process). A number of intellectual and political developments (sometimes competing, sometimes complementary) have been

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