The end of tolerance: new discourses of racism, migration and the state in Britain, 1997-2008

Kundnani, Arun (2010) The end of tolerance: new discourses of racism, migration and the state in Britain, 1997-2008. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This submission - one self-authored book and six refereed journal articles - constitutes a study of new racialised policy and media discourses that have emerged between 1997 and 2008 around the themes of community cohesion, managed migration and Britishness. It is argued that these discourses mark a new era in British 'race relations', breaking with an earlier consensus that had been forged in the late 1960s. As part of this discursive shift, an older notion of 'integration' as social, economic and political inclusion, to be effected by anti-discrimination legislation, multicultural tolerance and political representation, gave way to a new notion of'integration' defined as the adoption of 'British values', to be effected by oaths of allegiance, citizenship tests and various other techniques for reshaping the cultures and values of minority communities, particularly Muslims. Alongside this redefinition of integration was a shift in the central axis of 'race relations' from white-black to western-Muslim, and from a view of minority cultural identity as a stabilising force to one in which it was seen as threatening and needing clear limits placed on it. As well as resulting in new forms of racism against Muslims and asylum seekers, this shift has also gone hand in hand with new apparatuses of policing directed at these groups. Following a theoretical approach drawn from the work of A. Sivanandan, this political and social transition is analysed in the context of linked changes in global political economy and the resulting neoliberal transformation of the state, in particular through the politics of New Labour. Critical discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews and participant observation are the methods used to describe and analyse these new discourses of racism, migration and the state, and their interaction with the experiences of various racialised groups.

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