Posts Tagged 'Interculturalcities'

Promoting Interculturalism

The thing that sticks in my head the most from this morning’s session is Phil Wood’s statistic: 35% of white people in the UK socialise with people from another culture. When I first heard this figure, I  thought it was awful. Now, thinking about it, I’m not so sure. Maybe, given all the bad publicity around interculturalism and the number of people who are evidently still against it, this is actually pretty good. More worrying might be his other stat: that just a quarter of people think there is now more cultural integration than there was five years ago – and almost another quarter think there is actually less.

As an economic development consultant who spends lots of time helping the public sector develop regeneration strategies, I’ve been particularly interested in views on what civic authorities can do to promote interculturalism as a social and economic asset for a local area. Again, Phil Wood went straight to the point by criticising the office-bound ‘diversity teams’ in local authorities who operate in the murky world of monitoring targets and fail to understand or embrace what’s going on in the real world. On the flipside, Leonie Sandercock made some interesting points from the experience of Vancouver – she contends that a ‘thick institutional infrastructure’ of immigrant support (both social and economic) is essential, implying an active, hands-on role for the public sector.

Finally, you would be foolish to ignore the ‘so what’ issue. Bhikhu Parekh was excellent, as always, in cutting through the rhetoric and daring to observe that for many people, there just aren’t any obvious benefits of seeking inter-cultural dialogue. Why is it a cause worth promoting? As a twenty-something having grown up, studied and worked in and around a big city, the answer is obvious. But for many people, it’s probably not. Maybe this is the real issue.

Mike Phillips Regeneris Consulting, for more information click here.


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