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Research shows that multiculturalism is alive and well


New research presented in the House of Lords on Thursday 8 November will claim that the key multiculturalist goal of making 'Britishness' more inclusive is now also a goal for many senior Labour and Conservative politicians.

The findings, part of research undertaken by Brunel University and the University of Bristol, contend that there have been major advances in the political approach to multiculturalism. Historically, the idea of multiculturalism has been criticised by leading politicians for focusing on minority identities rather than national ones, reducing what citizens share until they no longer possess a national identity. 

Brunel University's Dr Varun Uberoi emphasises that politicans now increasingly endorse the multiculturalist goal of inclusive Britishness: “The Conservative party, which historically has fought to preserve traditional ideas of Britishness, now has leading figures and ministers who talk of a more inclusive national identity with minorities helping to shape it."

Professor Tariq Modood of the University of Bristol added: “In equating Britishness with Britain's political features and its diversity, the Labour Government promoted what we call a civic multicultural national identity. The Conservatives are now doing the same which is a remarkable change for a Party that once talked of preserving traditional forms of Britishness."

Dr Uberoi continued: "When the Commission for Multi-Ethnic Britain asserted that politicians should help to make Britishness more inclusive in 2000, the media and politicians rejected many of its claims. Politicians accepted that ‘Britishness’ was naturally becoming more inclusive, but not that they needed to do anything to aid this process. But after 2001 the then Labour government and Conservatives in the present government began to advocate this long-held multiculturalist goal of making Britishness more inclusive.”

Professor Modood concluded: "The Labour Party, which has historically been somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of nationhood, introduced government policies that advocated the importance of Britishness and making it more inclusive.”

The research by Dr Uberoi and Professor Modood was presented as part of the Economic and Social Research Council  (ESRC) Festival of Social Sciences.

Notes to Editors

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr Varun Uberoi or Professor Tariq Modood please contact Hannah Murray:
01727 737997

The presentation of Dr Uberoi and Professor Modood's research at the House of Lords forms part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Festival of Social Sciences (November 3–10, 2012). The findings will be discussed by David Goodhart (Demos), Paul Goodman (Conservative Home), Baroness Falkner (Liberal Democrats) and Sunder Katwala (British Futures),ahead of an open debate on the issue. The ESRC is sponsoring 500 researchers to provide insight into some of the country's leading social science research and how it influences our social, economic and political lives.

The paper 'Inclusive Britishness - A Multiculturalist Advance' has now been published by Political Studies and is available for free: download the paper

A short version of the paper is also available via the Huffington Post