Integration, cohesion and national identity: Theoretical reflections on recent British policy
British Journal of Political Science, 40, . (doi:10.1017/S0007123410000104).
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Recent policy documents in Britain that have emphasized the importance of integration can be understood as addressing the question of what conditions are required in order to achieve and sustain a just society. The answer they give is that minority cultural groups need to be integrated into society, and that this involves community cohesion, secured through ‘meaningful contact’, and sharing a national identity based on common values. Here, it is argued that although meaningful contact between members of different cultural groups may promote trust between them, this does not warrant the key role which has been given to the idea of community cohesion. It is suggested instead that policies should aim to foster a widespread sense of belonging to the polity, and that this is not the same as sharing a national identity.
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