Pilkington, A. (2008) From multiculturalism to the new integrationism: competing policy discourses and British Muslims. Seminar Presentation presented to: Framing Muslims Seminar Series, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of East London, 14 May 2008.
It is imperative that an appropriate balance is reached between three key principles: equality, diversity and social cohesion. In many countries across the world, however, there is a discernible move away from a concern for equality and diversity as the problem of order looms larger. Muslims in particular are typically represented as a threat to social order. I shall focus here on Britain in presenting my central thesis that there is a very real danger that a new nationalist discourse centred on community cohesion and integration is trouncing any duties on us to promote racial equality and respect cultural diversity. The paper comprises two sections. I shall firstly identify a radical hour when there was for the first time official recognition that institutional racism existed in British society and some urgency that this needed to be combated. I shall secondly highlight the fragility of such progressiveness and identify how the dominant policy discourse has changed since 2001. Here, I shall highlight in particular how the prominence given to institutional racism, with the publication of the Macpherson report, was remarkably short lived and how multiculturalism has come under increasing attack. The new integrationism that has emerged in their stead demonises Muslims and marginalises earlier concerns for equality and diversity