Sanderson, Pete and Thomas, Paul (2012) Community cohesion and spatial-cultural trajectories: influences on youth identification in Northern English Towns. Ethnicities. ISSN 1468-7968 (Submitted)

The recent assertion by European political leaders that multi-culturalism has ‘utterly failed’ is reviewed in the light of research conducted in two British towns. This paper posits a different relationship between the historical configuration of social space and the trajectory of inter-group relations. It argues that an analysis of the symbolic ordering of intergroup relations, and processes of ethnic identification and categorization needs to grounded in an understanding of a range of complex and interacting factors: the very specific structuring of the local urban environments ; the impact of globalization, and competition for public goods in inculcating a sense of dispossession; the way in which economic and social spaces experience a form of ‘negative branding’ that may be both internalised by members of different groups, and responsibility for which may be attributed to other groups; and the distinct cultural trajectories of differing social groups The paper uses data to illustrate the relationship between economic marginalisation and the racialisation of space, and to demonstrate that whereas young Muslim people identify the positive role of multi-culturalism in encouraging contact, good relations and equality, this is neglected or rejected by the young white respondents.

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