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Young people, everyday civic life and the limits of social cohesion

journal contribution
posted on 2010-11-01, 00:00 authored by Anita HarrisAnita Harris
In recent times, many Western governments have shifted focus from multiculturalism to
social cohesion in their efforts to address the impact of increased cultural diversity within
communities. One of the many and complex triggers for this change has been concern
about the marginalisation of young people of minority backgrounds from mainstream
culture, in turn prompted by acts of civil unrest, violence, and even terrorism by youth.
In this article I focus not so much on why the social cohesion ideal of integration is
problematic for young people (although it clearly is), but on the implicit assumptions
about what constitutes good participation in community that underlie any cohesiondriven
emphasis on integration into civic life in the first place. In doing so, I consider how
many young Australians’ modes of imagining, forging, and engaging in community,
which are very much a product of growing up in times of super-diversity, globalisation,
and individualisation, sit uneasily with mainstream communitarian notions of civic life
that are founded on twentieth-century forms of community and participation that are no
longer evident or sustainable in contemporary societies. I suggest that a social cohesion
agenda may not adequately account for the particular circumstances and experiences of
young people because of its assumptions about community and civic engagement that
take both adult and modern life as its reference points.

History

Journal

Journal of intercultural studies

Volume

31

Issue

5

Pagination

573 - 589

Publisher

Routledge

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

0725-6868

eISSN

1469-9540

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Taylor & Francis