Sunday, May 11, 2008

Data, community cohesion, equality and diversity

Last week’s Public Finance has an interesting article by Professor Ted Cantle of the Institute of Community Cohesion (iCoCo for short).

On this blog I have expressed a certain wariness of some of the thinking behind the community cohesion agenda. In particular, I am uncomfortable with the hostility to multi-culturalism and the shift towards an emphasis on inter-cultural ignorance rather than inequality and discrimination. (I would add that I also believe that the public and third sectors need to treat this agenda seriously and connecting it in a progressive way to work on equality and diversity.)

After that caveat and caveat to my caveat, I would recommend Ted Cantle’s article. While talking primarily about the variety in the Muslim community (or communities), he notes more widely:

There is a real need to refine the crude total population data from sources such as the census to reflect the turnover of population and to map the complexities within communities. This would allow a move beyond a uniform approach to engagement and service delivery.

Too often organisations adopt a simplistic approach to using data in these areas – sometimes narrowly focusing on “targets” for “BME” (black and minority ethnic) access to services rather than thinking about what level of use would be expected and by which communities.

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