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Unity and multiculturalism in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands

Rietveld, Elise 2014. Unity and multiculturalism in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Political theorists agree that some form of unity is necessary for culturally diverse citizens to act collectively and take collectively binding decisions. But they seldom specify what they mean by such unity; agreement on political values, an emotional bond between citizens, shared fundamental ends? Moreover, these political theorists often aim to be of practical use and intend to shape the ideas and guide the actions of political elites. But they neglect to examine how these elites already conceive unity and it is not clear whether they can, as these are the ideas they seek to shape or alter. This thesis responds to these two gaps, making three contributions: it clarifies why studying existing ideas helps political theorists to be ‘practical’; it clarifies how unity is conceived by political theorists and by political elites; and it argues that one conception of unity is not only most defensible but also plausible within two contexts. I develop my argument as follows. In chapter 1 I show that political theorists remain unclear about what they mean by unity, while often aiming to be ‘practical’; and in chapter 2 I explain why such practicality entails studying the ideas of the elites theorists intend to influence and I outline how to study these. In chapter 3 I present and analyse four hitherto implicit conceptions of unity advanced by political theorists; and in chapters 4 and 5 I show how British and Dutch political elites, respectively, conceive unity in different ways. In chapter 6 I show the implications of how political elites think about unity for political theorists, so I can argue for one of their conceptions of unity in chapter 7. I thus show that paradoxically, in a time when multiculturalism is often considered divisive, a ‘multicultural’ conception of unity proves both most defensible and plausible.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Funders: President's Research Scholarship
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2016 02:30

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