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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2001, Vol. 4 No. 1 .


Intercultural Europe: Diversity and Social Policy
Jagdish Gundara and Sidney Jacobs (eds.)

Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000
390pp. Index. Hb.: 49.95; ISBN 1-85742-346-1.



Overall, this is an excellent contribution to the field of social policy study in Europe. Its breadth and depth should be a great resource to many as the diversity of expertise among the many contributors is impressive. It would be impossible to refer to all the chapters but they range from the historical introduction, ethnic diversity, migrant communities, identity politics, lessons from N Ireland, health, trade unions issues to racist violence in Europe.

There were two drawbacks. Firstly, the structure of the book called out for a short concluding chapter. The editors gave a very impressive introductory chapter and with the range of succeeding material it would have been a great asset to identify the common and disparate themes and 'cluster' the specific issues to be addressed in the immediate future. Secondly the impact of the latter chapters was perhaps less than some of the earlier contributions.

That said, some of the high points were as follows. Jacobs treatment of race and racism was an excellent reminder and illustration of the depth of the problem to be addressed. Allied to Gundara's work on the political context and Coussey's chapter on ethnic diversity in the EU we have excellent base point material. But interestingly these three chapters actually highlight the need for a concluding chapter. Much commentary and flagging up of issues is provided but less so the proposals and/or ideas for collective policy approaches to combat the problems. An exception to this general observation is Coussey's call for a review of the legal framework so that immigrants, ethnic and national minorities can exercise political rights and have security of residence (p91).

There are strong contributions by Rex and Hansen which when considered together highlight a confluence of major importance to the EU. The former studied migrant communities, one facet of this being the 'cultural hybridity' of the migrant. There are many variations on this theme but essentially the migrant blends aspects of host country culture with the 'communal culture of the migrant ethnic minority group' (p68).

Juxtaposition this with Hansen's chapter on the 'cultural short cut' of trying to garner EU legitimacy on cultural identity, the problems are well highlighted. If citizenship of the Union is the cornerstone of EU identity, how can citizenship rules exclude many in the EU? Ally this to 'cultural hybridity' and longstanding and strong national identities, it is argued that a European culture and identity is restricted therefore, popular legitimacy of the Union is under pressure (pp105-6). Add considerable EU expansion to the 'menu' and the problem obviously grows. Hansen strongly argues for 'a process of democratization' to balance the current approach of cultural identity.

A core issue is 'mentioned' in the introduction to the book i.e. 'reform from above' without enough listening to those on the sidelines (p12). Social policy in intercultural Europe is well analysed in this book but the next stage may be articulating core ideas on how those on the sidelines are included through social policy and its implementation.


Dr. Billy Leonard



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