The multicultural state we're in

Nasar Meer, Tariq Modood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


British multiculturalism is alleged to have buckled under various Muslim-related pressures. Indeed, some intellectuals, commentators and politicians of different political persuasions have pointed to evidence of a 'retreat' to be found in an increased governmental emphasis upon 'integration' and 'social cohesion'. One response to these developments, from defenders of diversity-related politics, has comprised a discursive reorientation of British multiculturalism to focus upon an anti-essentialist 'multiculture' that can transcend the alleged hitherto reification of British multiculturalism. This article offers an alternative appraisal of British multiculturalism. We contest the idea that British multiculturalism is subject to a wholesale 'retreat' and suggest instead that it has been, and continues to be, subject to a productive critique that is resulting in something best characterised as a 'civic re-balancing'. Simultaneously, and rather than seeking comfort in a depoliticised 'multiculture' view, we defend the ideal of a dynamic political multiculturalism, comprised of a body of discourses and policies originating from a racial equality paradigm inaugurated by the first Race Relations Act (1965). It is argued that this tradition has successfully and legislatively embedded a recognition of 'difference' - with the goal of promoting equality of access and opportunity - into Britain's self-image which has led to some significant accommodations for certain groups. Muslim minorities are currently appealing to this tradition as one means of achieving greater civic inclusion. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-497
Number of pages25
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2009


  • british multiculturalism
  • muslim-related pressures
  • integration
  • social cohesion
  • diversity-related politics
  • multiculture
  • civic re-balancing
  • racial equality
  • minorities
  • civic inclusion


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