Decentered Media – 127 Ted Cantle and Community Cohesion

One of the principal aims of community radio in the United Kingdom is to improve and enhance community cohesion, but what do we mean by this term, and how do the social circumstances compare from when community cohesion policy was first adopted, with leveling-up policy and practice today? I got the chance to chat with Professor Ted Cantle, who established the Institute of Community Cohesion and the BElong Network, with the purpose of developing and promoting new techniques and practical guidance for local authorities, education institutions, businesses and national governments, to use intercultural understanding for community cohesion.

In a report to the Local Government Association, Ted specifies that:

“A cohesive community is one where:

  • There is common vision and a sense of belonging for all communities;
  • The diversity of people’s different backgrounds and circumstances are appreciated and positively valued;
  • Those from different backgrounds have similar life opportunities; and
  • Strong and positive relationships are being developed between people from different backgrounds in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods.” — Local Government Association et al, 2002[1]”

The concept of community cohesion was established in the UK in 2001 and offers a framework for understanding and responding to the changing management of diversity in many parts of the world. Ted points out on his website that

“Prior to community cohesion, various forms of multicultural practice attempted to mediate relationships between different community interests – generally based upon ‘racial’ differences. And the ‘mediation’ largely depended upon policies of separation and separate development, with little or no attempt to build acceptance of the ‘other’, nor manage integration. Community cohesion policy and practice demands contact and interaction to break down barriers, undermine prejudices and stereotypes and pro-actively tackle the grievances, injustices, divisions and segregation of ‘parallel lives’ – a term that was also first used to describe the deep divisions that undermine cohesion. This fundamentally new approach – under the banner of ‘community cohesion’ – became a mainstay of race and community relations policy and practice after 2001 and  has now been extended to many other societal divisions, including faith, sexual orientation, disability, age and health.”



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