Thomas, Paul (2014) Local Passion, National Indifference: Implementing Community Cohesion policies in Northern England. In: IMISCOE 11th Annual Conference 'Immigration, Social Cohesion and Social Innovation, 28-29th August 2014, Madrid, Spain. (Submitted)
Abstract

The emergence of Community Cohesion (Cantle, 2001) as national policy from 2001 was portrayed as the ‘death of multiculturalism’ in Britain (Kundnani, 2002). However, empirical evidence on how Community Cohesion policies were actually understood and enacted at the local level by front-line professionals (Thomas, 2011) suggested that Cohesion was actually a ‘rebalancing’ (Meer and Modood, 2009) of British multiculturalism, not its death.
Such evidence aids understanding of a situation now where national government is officially disinterested in Community Cohesion or ‘Integration’ of both settled and new minority communities (DCLG, 2012), and where some local authorities are consequently passive (Jones, 2013), whilst others remain passionate and proactive on Community Cohesion (a term the passionate refuse to give up). This localised passion is arguably driven by the highly racialised experience of local space (Amin, 2003) and significant physical segregation (Finney and Simpson, 2009) in certain localities. This paper draws on recent empirical evidence from research around cohesion implementation in West Yorkshire to analyse both the nature of this continuing local passion and the challenges it faces in relation to ‘cohesion’. Crucial here are the concepts of local ‘policy enactment’ (Braun et al, 2011) and the commitment of the ‘street level bureaucrats’ (Lipsky, 2010) in shaping this passionate commitment to cohesion whilst the agenda withers on the vine in other local authority regions. The paper argues that such local variations have always been an inherent part of British multiculturalism, with local agency central to understandings of local/sub-national variations from national policy.

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