Citizenship, housing and minority ethnic groups: an approach to multiculturalism



Bowes A, Dar N & Sim D (2000) Citizenship, housing and minority ethnic groups: an approach to multiculturalism. Housing, Theory and Society, 17 (2), pp. 83-95.

Recent discussions of multicultural citizenship have failed to develop a sociological perspective, grounded in empirical research. The article discusses the prospects for and problems of an agenda for multicultural citizenship in relation to an empirical study of housing issues facing Britain's Pakistani population. Multicultural citizenship, it is argued, has the potential to be inclusionary, but may also serve to fix cultural boundaries artificially, overemphasize cultural issues at the expense of other axes of differentiation, underestimate active citizenship, and promote particularist, potentially separatist policy responses. We use housing history data from 183 Pakistani respondents in three British cities, and draw on debates about universalism and particularism in housing policy and housing experiences. We examine inclusionary and exclusionary processes, processes of differentiation and the role of active citizenship in relation to three issues: owner-occupation, women fleeing violence and the role of housing associations. The article concludes that, whilst there may be a role for multiculturalism in an inclusive society, there is a risk that recognition of differences may reify them. This illustrates the need for debates about multicultural citizenship to be informed by a broader sociological understanding of processes of differentiation.

multicultural; citizenship; housing; Pakistanis

Housing, Theory and Society: Volume 17, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2000
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor Alison Bowes
Professor Alison Bowes

Professor, Dementia and Ageing