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  • Accentuating Multicultural Britishness: An Open or Closed Activity?

    Nasar Meer, Tariq Modood

    Chapter from the book: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M. 2019. Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice.


    Chapter 3 explores controversies over multiculturalism in contemporary Britain, arguing that recent political rejections of it have not been reflected in a wholesale change of policy, and that it is helpful to think of British multiculturalism as undergoing a rebalancing, rather than retreat. It shows that that the fluid nature of British multiculturalism means it can be co-opted by different actors for a variety of purposes. There are three main strands in contemporary British multiculturalism: a “cohesion” strand that emphasizes assimilation to majority norms; a secular and anti-essentialist account that focuses on “lifestyle” and behavioral identities; and a “political” multiculturalism prominent since the 1990s, which incorporates the priorities of both the above but also stresses the inclusion of ethno-religious minority groups. It is this latter form of multiculturalism that has been subject to rhetorical criticism and policy rebalancing, but even here British politicians of all stripes define “Britishness” through a simultaneous appeal to political-institutional history and cultural diversity.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Meer N. & Modood T. 2019. Accentuating Multicultural Britishness: An Open or Closed Activity?. In: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M (eds.), Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.73.c

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    Published on July 12, 2019