Race, ethnicity and religion: social actors and policies

This text is published in the Working Papers Series of the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme in conjunction with the Centre d’analyse et d’intervention sociologiques (CADIS) de l’Écoles des hautes études en sciences sociales, centre hosted by the Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme.
A shorter version of this article was published in Patterns of Prejudice. Danièle Joly ‘Race, ethnicity and religion: emerging policies in Britain’ in National Models of Integration and the Crisis of Multiculturalism: A Critical Comparative Perspective Christophe Bertossi et Jan Willem Duyvendak (eds) Patterns of Prejudice Vol. 46, no. 5, December 2012.
The author wishes to thank the FMSH, the IFRI, the IAE-Paris and the CADIS.
Britain’s integration model is recurrently held up as the epitome of the multiculturalist model in Europe. Moreover, it tends to be presented as though it was intrinsic to British society and had always existed. This is not the case. In reality the model has passed through successive phases of an ongoing evolution and was constructed through the interaction between British society and the ethnic minorities of immigrant origin who settled in Britain after the Second World War. After a brief period of assimilationism, a race relations paradigm was formulated, followed by the establishment of a multicultural policy. It is often assumed that multicultural policy is a simple continuation of a race relations approach under another name. But this paper argues that this is inaccurate and that each corresponds to distinct policy parameters and to different stages. Moreover, this was not the end of the line. The multiculturalist model has come under a barrage of criticism emanating from various sources and different viewpoints. Nevertheless, this paper maintains that it has not been eliminated but has metamorphosed into a Muslim paradigm. It explores the different stages of integration policies directed at immigrants and how those were constructed. The paradigms were developed through the categorisation of immigrants by majority society and the mobilisation of immigrants as a result of their interaction with British society. The paper draws the contours of each of these stages, examines the fault lines and areas of tension, and explores the underpinnings of the evolution. It argues that policies were forged through and beyond discourses largely by the immigrants themselves. In the main it can be posited that the process started with action that began at local level at the initiative of the immigrants and through immigrants/ethnic minority agency; it subsequently progressed to the national level. This prompted responses and funding programmes from central government. Nonetheless the artisans of those policies in their implementation were the immigrants and local authorities.
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16 November 2012