Three events have shaped recent British immigration policy. The first concerns the repeated attempts by illegal immigrants to board the freight and passenger trains at Sangette on the French side of the Channel Tunnel, the second is the riots which occurred in the North of England, in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in the Summer of 2001, and the third is the extremely hostile reception to the dispersal of immigrants in disturbances in towns such as Dover and Southampton. The first concerns problems of the entry of immigrants, the second and third with the problems of inter-communal relations and the dispersal of immigrants. Of these perhaps the riots in the Northern towns which involved police and public injuries and considerable property damage (see Appendix I), where there was a great deal of inter-racial tension as well as conflicts with the police, were most pivotal. For these not only were the most sizeable disturbances in twenty years but indicated unrest not merely at the initial dispersal points but in communities which had settled for two or more generations. A whole series of official documents arise out of this, the most important and recent of these being the White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration and Diversity in Britain (2002a), which is concerned largely with entry criteria and citizenship and the two Home Office reports, Community Cohesion (2002b) and Building Cohesive Communities (2002c) which, as their titles suggest, focus on problems of integration in terms of the disturbances in the Northern towns. The new Home Secretary, David Blunkett, recently appointed in Labour's second term in office, is transparently clear as to the economic and cultural aims of immigration policy. Thus, in the foreword to Secure Boarders, Safe Havens, he writes:

"There is nothing more controversial, and yet more natural, than men and women from across the world seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Ease of communication and of transportation have transformed the time it takes to move across the globe. This ease of movement has broken down traditional boundaries …

"But the tensions, as well as the enrichment, which flow from the inward migration of those arriving on our often wet and windy shores, must be understood, abated and addressed. Migration is an inevitable reality of the modern world and it brings significant benefits. But to ensure that we sustain the positive contribution of migration to our social well-being and economic prosperity, we need to manage it properly and build firmer foundations on which integration with diversity can be achieved. … This White Paper sets out … a nationality, immigration and asylum policy that secures the sustainable growth and social inclusion that are an essential part of our core principles …" (Blunkett, 2002, pp.1 and 3)

This outlines the New Labour Government's approach immigration has great benefits both to the economy and in terms of cultural diversity but it must be controlled to ensure that disturbances amongst the indigenous population are minimised and this is to be done through a process of 'integration with diversity'. And here the key leitmotif of New Labour is invoked, social inclusion, for the central pillar of their policy since their first election victory in 1997 has been that of inclusion with The Social Exclusion Unit being a core think tank linked to the Cabinet Office, under the command of the Deputy Prime Minister (at present John Prescott) and with a cross-departmental remit (see Young, 2002). The chief task of the Unit has been to promote the social inclusion of those parts of society seen to be excluded spatially (in so-called "sink estates"), politically, economically, or in terms of information, healthcare, security, social capital, etc. Social exclusion is wider than previous concepts such as poverty or marginalisation in that it is viewed as involving a multidimensional series of linked problems (hence a need for a 'joined up' interdepartmental response) and although localised is a result of global change, in particular the decline of manufacturing industries and the increased flexibility of labour. Social exclusion is seen as unjust to the excluded, but costly to those in the rest of society in terms of taxes, crime and incivilities and the lack of contribution to the total economy. The key institution which is seen to facilitate social inclusion is access to paid work and because of this various workfare schemes undergird the inclusionary programmes. Further, such a process is seen as involving a reciprocity of rights and responsibilities between the citizen and the State. That is the State provides the right of inclusion and social justice, whilst the individual has responsibilities to contribute in the form of work and law-abiding behaviour. The social inclusionary project of New Labour thus differs from the neo-liberalism of the Thatcher period which maintained that the unfettered market would best achieve social justice whilst holding the individual citizen responsible for his welfare and the social democratic thread in 'Old' Labour which stressed citizens rights coupled with the need for intensive governmental intervention to achieve social justice. It thus differs from the first in that it is palpably interventionist and from the second on its accent on responsibilities as well as rights. In this it attempts a Third Way between neo-liberalism and social democracy.

Secure Borders, Safe Haven is a fascinating document because it quite clearly represents the application of such inclusionary principles to the problem of immigration. Thus the stress is on the propelling forces of globalisation, the economic gains of incorporation, and the need for inclusion. The White Paper first of all talks of cultural inclusion and then economic inclusion. I will follow this order. What form does this cultural inclusion take? It is here that the concept of integration with diversity holds sway. The document is thoroughly multiculturalist rather than assimilationist. Here the contrast is made with "other democracies" in their response to immigration and its "challenge" to concepts of national identity and citizenship:

"All major democracies have had to face up to these changes in different ways in recent decades. In important respects, the UK has responded successfully to diversity. Unlike many other countries, British nationality has never been associated with membership of a particular ethnic group. For centuries we have been a multi-ethnic nation. We do not exclude people from citizenship on the basis of race and ethnicity. Similarly, our society is based on cultural difference, rather than assimilation to a prevailing monoculture. This diversity is a source of pride, and it helps explain our cultural vitality, the strength of our economy and our strong international links." (Home Office, 2002a, p.10).

And again:

"Common citizenship is not about cultural uniformity, nor is it born out of some narrow and out-dated view of what it means to be 'British'. The Government welcomes the richness of cultural diversity which immigrants have brought to the UK - our society is multi-cultural and is shaped by its diverse peoples. We want British citizenship positively to embrace the diversity of backgrounds, cultures and faiths that is one of the hallmarks of Britain in the 21st Century." (ibid., p.29)

Let us pause to examine this. It is, of course, a non-compromising commitment to multi-culturalism, underpinned by a notion of common citizenship. It purposely does not equate mono-culture with citizenship. This being said, it paints a completely unrealistic picture of Britain in terms of tolerance, either in the past, witness the widespread Anti-Irish and anti-Semitic prejudice, or in the present where racism is palpably widespread. Indeed, for many people nationality is associated with ethnicity - 'white British' to use the ethnic category now used in the Census and in official documents (despite, of course, its inappropriateness as an ethnic classification rather than a remark about the relative absence of melanin in the skin). However, let us note the White Paper's commitment to multiculturalism as an ideal and that the UK is, in all probability, the most multi-ethnic of all European nations.

After congratulating the UK on its diversity, the White Paper proceeds to note that some failures have occurred and points to the riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley. These, it notes, were the result of "fractured and divided communities lacking a sense of common values or shared civic identity". They signalled "the need for us to foster and renew the social fabric of the communities, and rebuild a sense of common citizenship, which embraces the different and diverse experiences of today's Britain" (OpCit, p.10).

It is at this juncture that the White Paper patently links the problem to social exclusion but it is not just the social exclusion of the immigrant but of many indigenous working class communities:

"Citizenship is not just for those entering the country - it is for all British citizens … The Government will initiate and open and constructive debate about citizenship, civic identity and shared values … This dialogue will form a central part of our drive for civil renewal in all our communities. Community cohesion and communality is weak. Too many of our citizens are excluded from meaningful participation in society. This is true of white working class communities whose alienation from the political process, along with their physical living conditions and standards of living, leaves them socially excluded from the increased wealth and quality of life which they see around them. In the same way, those who have entered this country and joined friends, family or ethnic groupings may find themselves experiencing relative economic disadvantage and sometimes overt racism." (ibid., p.10)

This section is worth quoting in full, it sees social exclusion occurring to both the alienated and poor working class with their relative deprivation to the wider more wealthy inclusive society and amongst the immigrants both in their comparisons with the wider society and in the racism they experienced from the excluded whites. Further, it sees the need for citizenship, shared identity and a sense of shared values. That the combination of economic and political marginalisation is a potent source of discontent which can in extremis result in riots is a well rehearsed argument, indeed this is precisely the combustive formula which John Lea and myself uncovered when analysing the widespread riots across Britain of 1981 (see Lea and Young, 1982). There are, however, considerable differences between the riots of 1981 and twenty years later in 2001, both in the composition of rioters and the targets of discontent. Further this account is somewhat confused in its notion of relative deprivation. I will return to this in a moment, but let us for now briefly examine the role of "citizenship" as a policy solution to the problem of exclusion.

The acquisition of British citizenship, the White Paper notes, has in the past been a mere bureaucratic exercise. Instead it proposes the promotion of language training, citizenship ceremonies, and elementary education in British civic institutions centring around the notion of rights and responsibilities. Here, again, the motif is social inclusion: lack of English language is seen as a major cause of social exclusion (ibid., p.32) and the notion of rights and responsibilities is a key element of New Labour's thinking on the basis of social inclusion.

The second "challenge" is seen as economic. For not only do diverse cultures enrich Britain, migrants with their skills, ambitions and energy enrich the economy. The aim is to encourage economic immigration where it meets the requirement of the labour market, whilst retaining the right to asylum for those who are the subjects of political persecution in their home country. Here the White Paper attempts to tackle the problem of illegal immigration via the request for asylum by providing a legal method of entry on an economic basis and thus removing from the asylum category the "bogus" applicants who are actually propelled by economic motives. Thus it distinguishes two modes of entry, economic and asylum seeker, and whilst welcoming these immigrants is concerned about both the immigrant who has not the requisite skills or the refugee who has insufficient grounds for asylum. The latter part of the White Paper details elaborate ways of maintaining 'secure borders' around the 'safe haven' that the first part of the report concentrates upon. It thus makes a distinction between the deserving and undeserving immigrants, albeit considerably widening the deserving category (see Sales, forthcoming).

Let us sum up the position of the White Paper. It is multi-culturalist and advocates both economic and refugee immigration, yet this is a "managed immigration" against the free, unregulated immigration of a libertarian or neo-liberal sort. It welcomes the cultural and economic contribution to Britain of the immigrant communities. The underarching discourse is that of social inclusion, indeed it sees the problems that have arisen as a product of the conflict between excluded immigrant and indigenous populations. The White Paper's policy solution is, therefore, social inclusionary: it seeks a diverse population with a common citizenship and sense of civil virtue and responsibility. It is thus integrationist rather than assimilationist, indeed its position, although unstated, is undoubtedly that of Amitai Etzioni's communitarianism - a key influence on New Labour thinking. That is, it seeks a diverse mosaic of cultures with a "thick" common framework of citizenship (see Etzioni, 1997). And just as it is not assimilationist, neither does it propose a diverse, relatively unintegrated population with a 'thin' framework as advocated by libertarians such as Paul Hirst (1994) or neo-liberals, who would view the State as having no right to intervene in the self-regulation of communities.

Two Modes of Entry

It is overall a significant change in policy from that of the eighties and nineties as well as differing from that of the fifties. The immigration policy of the fifties was motivated by labour shortages, it was economic immigration within a culturally assimilationist politics - compared to the multiculturalism of today. The period following up to the present day was overwhelmingly negative concerning immigration compared to the 'managed immigration' advocated in the White Paper, with a stress on the economic and cultural advantages of immigration. Contrast this to a commentator during the eighties who wrote: "Insofar as Britain can be said to have an immigration policy, it is a policy designed to contain the social problems of past immigration by eliminating virtually all future inwards flows." (1982, p.95)

My criticism of the White Paper revolves around a more general critique of New Labour's underlying doctrine of social inclusion, both in its economic and cultural dimensions. As I have argued extensively elsewhere (2002), New Labour's privileging of paid work of any sort as the key process expediting the passage to social inclusion severely misunderstands the nature of relative deprivation and the discontent it gives rise to. To shift individuals from unemployment to the lowest levels of employment structure with long hours, poor pay, intense job insecurity, is not experienced as inclusion in the ranks of the 'contented majority' but simply being reclassified in the ranks of exclusion. The problem both for the immigrant and indigenous communities in these depressed regions of the North is connecting up with the economic developments within the wider society rather than being perpetually marginalized. Social inclusion, on an economic level, is only viable where education and opportunity allows meritocratic advance, otherwise its potentiality is exceedingly geographically varied and dependent on the local labour market (see Peck, 1999).

But, of course, the aims of the White Paper are manifestly to avoid the 'sort' of immigration that has given rise to such economic marginalisation in the Northern towns. For the answer on the level of citizenship to the problems of social exclusion is to grant citizenship overwhelmingly to those people who are meritocrats - who have already the capabilities and the opportunities. Thus the high fliers of the refugee circuit (and, of course, there are very many of them) are to be admitted in as economic migrants. Such supposed liberalisation is accompanied by the quid pro quo of tightening even further on the asylum mode of entry - to ensure only the most bona fide of refugees are allowed entry. It is difficult to see how such cherry picking of skilled immigrants will solve either the wretched attempts to jump the freight trains at Sangette or, indeed, to genuinely respond to the future labour needs of the UK. The massive movement of people seeking to better their lives is worldwide and will scarcely be halted by an international competition for skilled labour. Yet the UK, like so many European countries, has a declining fertility rate and an ageing population. Work on all levels will be necessary if the country's economic viability and social support systems are to be maintained. If this is so, immigration must be much more widespread and the problems of economic inclusion cannot be obviated by concentrating on the admission of high fliers.

In the case of cultural inclusion there is considerable evidence that multi-culturalism in the form of a mosaic of distinct cultures held together by a frame of citizenship (ie that advocated by Etzioni) does not achieve a friction free situation of social integration. In fact, all the evidence is to the contrary: the United States being the prime example, where inter-ethnic dispute and competition is paramount, where rioting has occurred on an unprecedented level in Western societies and where social and spatial segregation is exceptional. But let us turn now to look at the actual processes which lie behind the sort of discontent that can bubble over into a full blown riot. Here I want to turn briefly to the previous major riots in Britain, those twenty years previously in 1981.

Twenty Years Ago: The Riots of 1981

But first of all let me return to the earlier analysis of the 1981 Riots, the prime sites of which were Brixton, Moss Side and Toxteth (see Lea and Young, 1982). The rioters were predominantly African-Caribbean with a significant white minority and were directed against the police accompanied by the looting of shops. An explanation in terms of poverty alone was insufficient - in so far as historically there has been worse poverty and unemployment in the UK without rioting and, further, it does not explain why at this time in the early eighties certain sections of the population, particularly African-Caribbeans, were involved and not others such as Asians, or the absence of riots in areas such as Glasgow with a predominantly poor white population.

The conservative thesis - most strongly advocated at the time by The Daily Telegraph correspondent, Peregrine Worsthorne - was that there had been a failure of race relations because of a lack of assimilationist policies. Successive governments because of pluralist, multi-cultural policies had allowed immigrant cultures to remain which were essentially 'alien' and did not identify with British culture. Thus when the pressure of poverty and unemployment occurred this loose pluralism had simply fallen apart. Here the contrast was made with the United States in the nineteen fifties where assimilationist policies were vigorously pursued: where the flag was displayed in classroom and public building, and recitations of the constitution and a celebration of citizenship were de riguer.

Our critique of this was that the explanation of events was not discontent because of lack of assimilation but rather discontent because of the degree of assimilation. That the reason why discontent was highest among second generation immigrants was that they had incorporated notions of citizenship: in all its economic, social and political aspects. This was a riot of citizenship thwarted and of failure to understand the meaning of citizenship. It involved a generation of African-Caribbeans who had experienced lack of jobs where their expectations were employment, racism where their beliefs were in equality and harassment from the police where they had learnt to expect the rule of law. Let us now put this in a more general perspective.



All over the Western world the process of economic globalisation has been associated with the mass migration of labour from the Third World and from the countries of the Second World: the ex-Soviet nations of Eastern Europe. In every instance a social and spatial process of exclusion has occurred in the host country and, concomitant with this, the cultural 'othering' of the immigrant population. That is a designation of the immigrant as an Other, an alien group as opposed to the supposed cultural normality of the indigenous population. A series of binaries are set up: us-them, majority-minority, pure-impure, and with a seeming inevitability law-abiding-criminal, normal-deviant. The immigrant population is seen as a source of crime, of drugs, prostitution and violence. Let us make the facts clear: the research, in Britain at least, indicates quite unequivocally that first generation immigrants have lower crime rates than the indigenous population (Lea and Young, 1993). Indeed, as Dario Melossi (2000) points out, such a finding is part of the history of immigration in the US with both the Immigration Commission of 1911 and the Wickersam Commission of 1931, and in Britain was a crucial finding of the 1972 Select Committee on Race Relations (see Lea and Young, 1993, pp.135-8). As we argue in What is to be Done About Law and Order?, it is the second generation immigrants who have become more assimilated to the values of the wider society who most acutely feel relative deprivation, the discontent of which frequently leads to higher crime rates. Furthermore, this is not a product of any racial essence but of subcultures which have adapted to the new country and which transmute rather than replicate the original culture of origin (ibid, pp.124-9). Similarly Ineke Haen Marshall, in her recent survey of crime rates amongst minorities in the US and Europe, notes:

"There appears to be a general consensus that, if there are any marked differences between the criminal involvement of immigrants and natives, these are manifested in the criminal involvement of the children of immigrants (second - and third - generation immigrants). It is argued that children of immigrants will have higher expectations; they will have changed life aspirations." (1997, pp.237-8; see also Karydis, 1996).

Add to this the predicament and hardships of residence either in inner cities or peripheral estates and you have a formula for disaster.

Secondly, the type of crimes which occur are predominantly those associated with the demographics of youth and the predicaments of poverty. Over and over again the determinants of class are confused with the propensities of 'race' or ethnicity (see Mooney and Young, 1999).

The Roots of Othering

How does one explain this process of cultural 'othering'? Attempts are frequently made to explain such tendencies utilising the psychoanalytic theories of Melanie Klein, Erik Erikson and more latterly Julia Kristeva. These, in the tradition of object relations theory, trace parallels between the infants' development of a sense of self in distinction to the external world and the cultural demarcations of 'us' and 'other'. An alternative explanation rooted in cultural anthropology and the work of Mary Douglas locates such exclusions in the need for social groups to maintain boundaries and how rules about purity and the fear and loathing of others strengthen the security of the entrenched majority.

The problem about such theorisation, most eloquently advocated in David Sibley's book Geographies of Exclusion (1995), is that it tends to depict such othering or demonisation as a cultural universal, a product of ever-present problems of human psychology or group formation. Instead we need to locate such a process in time and social context, we need to specify who is more likely to demonise, to explain the context of the labels applied to outsiders, to understand the mechanisms of exclusion and describe the likely outcome of such othering. In short, we need to know the when, why, who, what, how and whether of demonisation. I will attempt briefly to do just this.

The last third of the twentieth century has witnessed a remarkable transformation of the lives of citizens. In my book, The Exclusive Society (1999) I chart how The Golden Age of the post-war settlement with high employment, secure jobs, stable family structures and consensual values has given way to a world of structural unemployment, widespread job insecurity, the cutting of welfare provision, growing instability of family, community and personal life and a burgeoning individualism and pluralism of values. The transition to late modernity has involved a shift from a world of material and ontological security to one of economic insecurity and uncertainty of identity. This twin process of disembeddedness, spurred on by economic and cultural globalisation, is experienced by people as a chaos of reward and identity. In the sphere of distributive justice, because of the downsizing and re-engineering of the work force, the discontinuity of career structures, the proliferation of service industries with no obvious or consistent wage structures, reward is experienced as arbitrary, uncertain and a product of luck or chance. Wider and wider swathes of what were formerly stable working and middle class households face uncertainty and a disjunction between merit and reward. Such a chaotic situation engenders widespread frustration and anger. And, as Edward Luttwak (1995) has dramatically argued, such discontent in the economic sphere spills off into punitiveness in the penal sphere. It is no accident, he argues, that the downsizing of the US work force is accompanied by the penal explosion of unparalleled levels. The chaos of reward engenders a climate of punitiveness. The second disembeddedness is that of identity: this occurs because of increased geographical mobility, community disintegration and turnover, the instability of marriage and, above all, by an individualism which is sceptical of tradition and authority and is reflexive about the world. No longer is the self secure in time and place and the taken-for-granted becomes seen for what it is, a social construction. At the same time travel, tourism, immigration, the mass media - the forces of cultural globalisation, present pluralism to the individual. Such globalisation has a paradoxical effect, it presents pluralism starkly in the face of the individual whilst at the same time through hybridism and the global dissemination of ideas, narrows the degree of difference. Cultures become less and less divided by gulfs and determined by locality and birth, and more and more a matter of choice. Whatever, as numerous authors from Michael Ignatieff to Anton Block have pointed out, such a 'narcissism of minor differences' increases rather than decreases ontological insecurity. One solution to such a loss of firm identity is nationalism, fundamentalism, racism (and for men hypermasculinity) - that is to construct - or as Eric Hobsbawm (1993) would have it, 'invent' - a fixed identity based on the notion of a cultural essence which is reaffirmed, rediscovered and elaborated upon. This essentialising of the self, the allocation of oneself and one's kith and kin, firm virtues rooted in the culture is inevitably accompanied by the essentialising and denigration of the other. The process of constituting the devil thus proceeds apace. The simplest notion of what constitutes a demon, a folk devil, an enemy for any particular culture is that it is what they are not. It is the embodiment of all they stand against, a violation of their highest principles, ethics and values - it is, in short, constituted by negativity - it is the black and white of moral photography.

The Final Phase: The Irony of Assimilation

The grand irony of cultural 'othering' is that as migrant groups become more like the majority culture, they experience higher levels of relative deprivation, and discontent in response to their poverty and their level of crime increases. Thus, second generation African-Caribbeans in Britain have a higher level of crime. Similarly, the ethnography of Carl Nightingale of African-Americans in Philadelphia (1993), and Philippe Bourgois of Puerto Ricans in East Harlem (1995), indicate that discontent and crime occurs not because of simple exclusion but the reverse, widespread cultural inclusion followed by structural exclusion: what I have called the bulimia of later modernity (Young, 1999). Finally, of course, some minority groups take up the negative characteristics projected upon them, whilst others evolve cultures of difference and fundamentalism to cope with and make sense of their rejection. Having summoned forth false demons we find, in front of our eye, real demons arising.

The Roots of the Disturbances

The interpretation of the disturbances amongst immigrant groups is, therefore, one of 'othering'. Incivilities, crime, rioting are seen as a product of lack of assimilation to the values and civic virtues of the host country. It is a product of their unreconciled 'alienness'. The policy response in the case of conservatives involves a stress on assimilation per se, in the case of New Labour, with its key discourse of social inclusion and its commitment to multiculturalism, the stress is on lack of integration or social exclusion. In both political instances, the roots of the disturbances are "out there", rooted in unadapted difference. What I am arguing is the very opposite of this: disturbance occurs because of the degree of assimilation, it is a function of become more 'like us' rather than being unlike us. It is assimilation or integration which allows structural exclusion and lack of opportunities of work or acceptance as citizens to be experienced as unfair. The Asian youths who rioted in the Northern towns had the same accents and expectations as the white youths who rioted on the other side of the ethnic line. They scarcely needed teaching citizenship or English - they knew full well that bad policing was a violation of their citizenship just as was such a drastic exclusion from the national job markets.

How did such a process of assimilation into Western values and aspirations occur? It occurs without the need for any government intervention by the exposure, particularly in the second generation, to the mass media, to mass education with its national curriculum, to the vast apparatus of the consumer society in advertisement, shopping mall and the images of success, and status, as embodied in clothes, motor cars, and fashion accessories. Against this overwhelming cultural barrage, global in its dimensions and intense in its impact - the ability of any immigrant group to stay separate in its identity is extremely limited. The paradox then is that as the second generation immigrants become culturally closer to the 'host' and their economic and political aspirations concur with the wider society, at that point, they face both cultural exclusion because of racism and prejudice and become aware of the limits of economic opportunities. As I will argue in the concluding section, this discontent rather than finding political expression - a realisation of the common predicament of poor and socially excluded people of whatever ethnic origin (including the indigenous population) becomes transformed in a situation of segregation into conflict between socially excluded groups. In this instance, cultural differences although narrowing are grotesquely exaggerated and economic differentials although narrow are perceived as being grossly unfair and disproportionate.



The riots which occurred in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in 2001 are of a different nature than the widespread disturbances which occurred throughout Britain in 1981 and 1985. The riots of the Eighties were riots of inclusion, they were a fight back against the whole catalogue of social exclusions: police racism, unemployment, political marginalisation and impotence. They were not propelled by racism but against racism. In contrast those which have occurred recently in our Northern cities have a more sinister aspect; sections of the community have become pitted against each other, racist stereotypes and ethnic prejudice have been mobilised and the aim on both sides has, at times, been to exclude, separate and divide. Thus, whereas the uprisings of the Eighties were never remotely race riots, those of today teeter on the edge of this category. Such events create dangerous opportunities for the parties of the far right, but they are the beneficiaries rather than the causes of such inter-community conflict. Of course unemployment and economic exclusion lies behind both the events of the Eighties and today. But the shape of the disturbances is very different and it is here that problems of identity and multiculturalism have had their impact.

Lois Wacquant, in his celebrated study of the comparison between Woodlawn in South Chicago and La Courneuve in the outer ring of Paris, notes the dramatic contrast between the extreme segregation of Chicago and the mixed population of Paris. "Racial enclaves", he notes, are "unknown in France and in all of Europe for that matter" (1996, p.560). The diverse populations of the great European metropolises are one of the most significant achievements - however unintended - of late modernity. Indeed I write this in Stoke Newington, in the London Borough of Hackney where, if you take class and ethnicity into consideration, there is probably not a majority population - it is a constituency of intermixed diversity, an enclave of minorities. But Wacquant's observations, however true of great sections of our cities and reinforced by high rates of intermarriage and friendship, are not true of certain areas where housing provision, schools and the fears of racism have begun to create segregation and mono-culturalism. Bradford and Oldham are examples of this, as are the more exceptional situations in Belfast and Derry.

In the United States the exceptional degree of spatial segregation has been underscored by an ideology of multiculturalism and communitarianism. As writers as diverse as Zygmunt Bauman, Robert Hughes, Paul Gilroy and Tod Gitlin have pointed out, conventional notions of multiculturalism, however liberal in their intent, have potentially reactionary consequences. In a late modern world where people increasingly create their own sense of identity and culture, multiculturalism encourages exactly the opposite, to go to your roots and find your "true" self. Such a fixed essence is then contrasted with 'Others' (Catholics against Protestants, Islam against non-Islam, White against Black) and allows prejudice to be based on notions of fixed differences. A multiculturalism which seeks tolerance paradoxically creates the conditions for prejudice and intolerance.

One solution to this problem is communitarianism, a mosaic of separate communities, each homogenous in their own values, and secure in their own identities. But as the US experience has shown the mosaic constantly frays at the edges, there is, in Tod Gitlin's haunting phrase, a 'twilight of common dreams' (1995), each community sets itself up against each other, competitive, exclusive and prejudiced in their attitudes.

What can we do about this? First of all we need to solve the problem of economic exclusion which fuels the antagonisms between the communities. As we have seen, such economic inclusion must involve genuine possibilities of education and economic and social improvement, it cannot merely involve, in the name of flexibility, of labour the shifting of a whole category of people into the bottom end of the labour market. Secondly, we must tackle the very notion of multicultural communities which underscore so much of conventional thinking - left and right - and which facilitates such antagonisms. The rational solution to dividing the world into binaries - them and us - as the New York radical philosopher Nancy Fraser (1997) has stressed, is to deconstruct the binaries - not to shore them up. This involves setting our goal on a new sort of multiculturalism - a multiculturalism of genuine diversity. A diverse society is one where there is genuine choice, where there is a mix of traditions, where the stress is on the ongoing creation of culture rather than the inheritance of a weighty tradition. A diverse society is not Oldham or Bradford or Burnley, where fixed and monolithic cultures confront one another, nor is it the neo-tribalism of Northern Ireland where tradition is glorified and the problems of identity are seemingly solved by consulting the fixed geographical contours of an atlas. In contrast, genuine cultural diversity is about creating new lifestyles and values, it is about bricollaging bits from here and there, it is the hybridisation of culture rather than the pursuit of a fake authenticity. It is, in fact, the actual lived culture that young people in schools which recruit from a wider range of ethnic and class backgrounds create everyday of the week. The enemy of this diversity is segregated housing policies, single faith schools, backward looking community leaders, and, above all, the glib allocation of people to fixed ethnic categories.

This is not the old story of assimilation where the 'host' country absorbs the immigrant minority. It is not Melanie Phillips' prescription for the riots: a new assimiliationism - a melting pot - where everyone comes out culturally 'white' and terribly English. In the politics of diversity everybody changes and the hallmark of progress is a multiculturalism which overlaps, blurs and merges, which does not constantly reinvent the past but looks forward to the future.


I have examined recent immigration policy in the UK focusing in on the most recent White Paper, Secure Borders, Safe Haven which arose out of concern about illegal entry into the country and a series of disturbances centring around immigration both in terms of recent entry and amongst settled populations in three of our Northern towns. I have pinpointed the theme of social inclusion - a central pillar of New Labour social policy - as the key principle in the White Paper. The report stresses the importance of economic migration and cultural diversity to the creation of a dynamic society and open up the economic migration of skilled workers whilst attempting to speed up and regulation the inflow of asylum seekers. The process of social inclusion is to be facilitated by a stress on the need for induction into citizenship with its stress on both rights and responsibilities. I have suggested that it is not lack of knowledge of citizenship which generated the riots in the Northern towns but the very reverse: a strong, learnt sense of economic, political and social citizenship thwarted. What is necessary is a notion of social inclusion which tackles both the alienation of immigrant communities and the racism of the indigenous population by providing the education and jobs necessary to overcome the economic and geographical isolation of such towns and policies which ensure fair policing and political integration. Further, conventional multiculturalism which stresses a separate, static, communitarian mosaic must be replaced by a multiculturalism which puts emphasis on interaction, change and diversity by choice. All of this, whether in terms of jobs, policing, politics, opposition to social segregation - spatially and in schools - requires not merely citizens who realise their responsibilities but also the responsibility of government to provide structures which will facilitate citizens rights and genuine social inclusion. The Home Secretary in a recent newspaper article, 'The Right is Our True Enemy' (Guardian, April 02) views the White Paper as a 'turning point' in immigration policy in the UK and managed immigration and diversity as the key to fighting the threat of the far right - in particular the British National Party who are fielding many candidates in the North in the forthcoming local elections of May 2nd. My feeling is that we must considerably develop and deepen the policy of social inclusion if we are to achieve social justice and ward off the dangers of the far right.



April, 2002

Appendix 1

Background to the Riots in Three Northern Towns, Summer 2001

1.1 The violent community disorders which erupted in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham during the summer of 2001 were some of the worst in 20 years. There was less serious disorder in a number of other places and many more towns, mainly in the North, were identified by the police as being at significant risk of serious disorder. There have been sporadic incidents of further community disorder since the summer.

1.2 The disorders involved hundreds of mainly young people, inflicted injuries on over 400 police, and caused millions of pounds worth of damage.










No's involved in Disorders


Approx 100





No police injured

20 members of the general public


326 police

14 members of the general public

83 police

28 members of the general public

2 police

3 members of the general public

Cost of damage

Estimated at £117,000

Estimated at £7.5 -£10 million


Estimated at over £0.5 million

Estimated at £1.4 million

1.3 The first outbreak of serious disorder was in Bradford on Sunday 15 April. This was followed by those in Oldham, on 26-29 May and Burnley, on 24-26 June, and finally the second outbreak in Bradford on 7-10 July. Serious disturbances also occurred in Leeds on 5th June and Stoke-on-Trent on the weekend of 14-15 July.

1.4 395 people were arrested in conjunction with the disorders in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham. In Oldham, court proceedings have now begun against the 12 men charged with violent disorder in relation to the initial incident. In Bradford, 58 people are awaiting trial on charges which include rioting, and violent disorder. Court cases in Burnley are still pending.

1.5 Nonetheless, it is worth highlighting a number of features which, to a greater or lesser extent, all the disturbances shared:

    • all of the wards affected were amongst the 20% most deprived in the country - and parts of Oldham and Burnley rank in the most deprived 1%. All have average incomes which are amongst the lowest in the country. Many of the areas involved also had low education attainment standards in schools;
    • the participants were overwhelmingly young men. Those arrested were predominantly between 17-26;
    • both white and ethnic minority young men were involved. Most were local to the area. The ethnic minority young men involved were largely of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin;
    • disturbances occurred in areas which had become fractured on racial, generational, cultural and religious lines and where there was little dialogue, or much contact, between the various groups across those social divides;
    • in many, but not all cases, trouble arose after months of racial tension and widely reported racial attacks - both Asian on white, and white on Asian;
    • the disorders themselves took place either in, or on the margins of areas inhabited predominantly by Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities;
    • far-right organisations had been active in some, but not all of the areas, although rumours of far-right activity were reported by the police to have raised tensions in other areas;
    • the arrest or failure to arrest certain individuals, assaults and other criminal activities often played a part in spreading disturbances; and
    • the disorders escalated as word of them was spread (e.g. by mobile phones) and others joined in.


[Source: Building Cohesive Communities, Home Office: 2002c]


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