Issues of identity and belonging have moved to the centre of public debate. This development has been propelled in part by 9/11, the London bombings of July 2005 and the so-called war on terror.
But longerstanding concerns about the effects of globalisation have also played a part. The movement and dispersion of people, commodities and information around the world are currently unprecedented in scale. While this more mobile world has brought extraordinary new economic and cultural opportunities, it has led some to fear that older forms of solidarity and identity are being weakened while all too familiar tensions and hostilities have gained a new lease of life.
In response, a number of politicians have begun to challenge the relatively hands-off approach that Britain has, in the past, taken to questions of citizenship and identity. By proposing a more proactive approach to these questions they hope to marry the opportunities of globalisation with the benefits of a shared sense of belonging and solidarity.
This working paper, one of two published together (see Who Are We?), aims to map the broad parameters of this debate by:
- Charting the rise of this new agenda around identity
- Exploring its potential for fostering more cohesive communities
- Spelling out some of the limitations and even dangers of approaching these questions through the lens of identity
- Exploring the links between identity and public policy, sketching out the beginnings of a progressive approach.
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