Contesting Diversity in Europe: Alternative Regimes and Moral Orders

by Ralph Grillo

Working Papers WP 10-02
March 2010
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

Full text: pdf

Diversity, or rather the process of diversification, in a multicultural society such as Britain, involves interaction between hegemonic and minority (alternative) ‘regimes’, which specify and embody the principles underlying the arrangement of diverse populations, their configuration. Regimes entail moral orders, sets of beliefs and values that provide guidelines (or imperatives) for right and proper conduct within and between diverse populations, and in a globalising world these come under pressure, not least in a migratory context, which is a catalyst for changing perceptions of self, forcing (re)interpretation of beliefs and practices. The family is one ‘site’ where matters may come to a head, and differences between regimes and moral orders are explored and contested. The way in which regimes are ‘interarticulated’ is crucial. In Britain this involves a complex process of contestation and negotiation between proponents of different perspectives. British multiculturalism, one mode of dealing with diversity, is thus best interpreted as an emergent ‘negotiated order’, the result of interaction between a multiplicity of social actors that reflects the rapport de force (local, national, international) in contemporary society.

Ralph Grillo is Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology at the Dept of Anthropology, University of Sussex.