Cohesion as ‘common sense’: Everyday narratives of community and cohesion in New Labour’s Britain

Matthew Donoghue
  • Politics, June 2016, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0263395715620811

How do Citizens make sense of the UK Government's approaches to Community Cohesion?

What is it about?

The article analyses and discusses a series of focus groups held in Bradford and Birmingham, in which participants are asked to discuss issues surrounding their neighbourhoods, what community means to them, if they have heard of (community) cohesion and how they understand this term, and how they feel other communities, neighbourhoods and the government view their area and themselves as citizens. It compares this with government documents on Community Cohesion and citizenship, and uses a critical approach based in Critical Discourse Analysis and the work of Antonio Gramsci to see if, how and to what extent ideas and imagery in these government documents influence how participants make sense of and use concepts such as community and cohesion.

Why is it important?

Government policy in this area is presented as empowering to citizens. However, much of the impact of the policy works to increase responsibility on citizens without giving them much more autonomy. Thus it is very important to understand how processes of cohesion and understandings of community operate within the very communities and neighbourhoods Community Cohesion policy targets. This helps us understand the effectiveness of the policy/-ies, as well as providing an opportunity to assess the motivations behind the policies.

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