Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Living Together: Rethinking Social Unity for a Multi-Faith Society

01 February 2011 - 30 September 2011

It is often supposed that cultural diversity and discord are detrimental to community cohesion and civic health. This belief is prominent in the public discourse and has fuelled many recent pronouncements of the ‘death’ of multiculturalism across Europe. But the notion of community underpinning this discourse is ill conceived and one-dimensional.

This project seeks to improve our sense of the possibilities for social cohesion and belonging in a multi-faith society by articulating a ‘narrative’ conception of community that turns on the core notion of ‘living together’. The narrative conception treats communities as dynamically enacted shared lives, the stories of which reflect different narrative forms. The narrative conception is important, for it emphasises the wide variety of ways in which we may live together in associations that are recognisably communities and it enables us to make novel judgements about the meaningfulness of communal lives.

The project will use the narrative conception of community to inform scholarly and public debates concerning the cultivation of community and the promotion of civic health in conditions of cultural diversity. Specifically, it will consider whether there can be a civic narrative that is inclusive enough to embrace us all, and yet also meaningful enough to sustain civic health and flourishing.

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