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SBS318: Cultural Pluralism SP19 Session 02

The most significant difference of the intercultural approach is that in other policy types the underlying assumption is that they will not ask any serious question of, or require change by, the majority. The Intercultural City.

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As most migrants and many minorities in Europe settle in towns and cities, their search for housing and jobs, legal recognition and protection, religious and political expression, education and welfare services is increasingly a local rather than a national issue. It is in cities where key decisions will be taken determining whether, over the coming decades, Europe will be a place that is at ease with its cultural diversity — or at war with itself.

Intercultural policies are therefore essential for the diverse communities of tomorrow. The intercultural approach aims at establishing an understanding that diversity is in principle a good news for cities — as it is for enterprises.

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Migrants perform vital functions that the hosts need but no longer care to perform themselves. Migrants also bring aptitudes which are different to those of the host and may, if managed well, prove complementary to, and add value to, the skills of the host community. Whilst such trade may remain limited to the supply of familiar food and cultural goods to the settler, the ramifications can be far wider than this, for example the opportunities available to German exporters in the emergent Turkish market or the greater ease with which British companies are able to interact with the booming Indian high technology market.

On top of this, migrants also, of course, represent new markets for local companies in the host city. They are. Particularly if they resettle in cities which are experiencing stagnation or decline they may bring a welcome boost to a flat or low-aspirational local economy, whilst their stronger social networks may revive a disintegrating neighbourhood. The modern economy is one which prizes new ideas and rewards innovation is processes and products. An intercultural city is one in which there is the assumption that diversity is the norm and that it is incumbent upon all residents to make adjustments.

Pluralism, cultural maintenance and evolution

What the other policy models also lack is any sense of the dynamic energy of our diverse European urban society, in which the movement of people is matched by the interplay and trading of goods and services, ideas and customs, dreams and aspirations, fears and anxieties, skills and aptitudes as people make places, make money, make families and make new identities within and across ethnic lines. It accepts diversity as a norm and helps people from all groups — minorities as well as the majority — benefit from it. The intercultural city shapes its educational, social, housing, employment, cultural and related policies, and its public spaces, in ways which enable people from different cultural backgrounds to mix, exchange and interact for mutual understanding and benefit.

The intercultural city does not avoid cultural conflict but accepts it and develops adequate ways — both civic and judicial - of dealing with it. City political leaders and local media promote an understanding of diversity as an asset and encourage citizens to perceive it in the same way and share an understanding of the city as a culturally pluralistic space. Because of close interaction and trust between cultural groups and strong participation in civic life, the intercultural city is able to respond positively to social and economic challenges and cease opportunities provided by an increasingly global economy.

The intercultural city adopts interculturalism as a core policy approach. Cultural diversity is sometimes experienced as threatening and often raises concerns about the identity of the local community. The Intercultural cities approach responds to such fears through an open and inclusive debate in public institutions and the media.

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This debate aims first to de-construct unfounded myths for instance about the economic role of migrants or their religious practices which circulate in the public opinion and the media about migrant or minority groups [3] and to bring to fore positive contribution of these groups to the development of the community.

Cities are subject to a whole range of conditions upon which they have little control such as global and national economy, national policies, geographical location, demography, cultural heritage etc. Clearly, the development of intercultural approaches depends to a great extent on whether these conditions are favourable or not. For instance, most cities have little influence over educational policies and curricula while intercultural education in school and the primary intercultural training of professionals, especially those engaged in social services, are essential elements of the intercultural city.

However, even in such areas cities have an important role to play for instance by encouraging schools to organise intercultural events, employ intercultural mediators or communicate intensively with parents of migrant or minority origin. Cities participating in the pilot Intercultural cities programme have engaged to implement specific actions and areas in which they can make a difference in order to stimulate intercultural development. Any city wishing to realise the benefits of interculturalism must put in place the adequate structures in order to ensure that interculturalism does not become an excuse for the weakening or challenging of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The first important precondition for the intercultural city is that all citizens should be able to enjoy democratic rights, particularly equality before the law, access to political participation, freedom of worship and legal protection from discrimination and harassment [i]. Voting rights at the local level are a pre-condition for active local citizenship and a way to ensure that political processes take into account the needs of all members of the community. Electoral legislation is generally a responsibility of the national state and therefore largely beyond the sphere of influence of a single city.

In addition, there is much a city can do to ensure that the law is effectively implemented and policed at local level, and there is now an emerging trend of cities beginning to take into their own hands matters such as the conferring of new forms of sub-national citizenship on migrants for example Madrid. There is also a need for a change in mindset of local leaders. The building of the intercultural city requires a strategic approach which encompasses all major policy areas in the city and involves all main policy and service institutions, civil society, cultural operators, etc.

Intercultural city strategies cannot be limited to incremental approaches that build solely on what has gone before though obvious city strengths and good practice will need to be built on. They need to be transformative ; aiming to fundamentally change civic culture, the public sphere and institutions themselves. Applying the intercultural lens means holding discussions and debating about the intercultural city vision with individuals, groups and communities about objectives, means and criteria for an intercultural city policy. How can key public buildings be made to evoke not one particular cultural origin but a plurality of cultural references through architectural design, decoration, language signs etc.

How can cultural activities involve participants across ethnic groups rather than in mono-cultural silos. How to make sure that public services deliver sufficient quality and access even under sudden demographic pressure from immigration? Intercultural city strategies need to build on spheres and activities where relationships are positive but should not ignore or fail to address intercultural conflict.

Conflict is to be welcomed as inevitable and, handled well, creative and leading to mutual learning and growth for all participants, including city authorities. Through several separate but inter-related programmes of work in various parts of the city, the Council and its partners have invested impressive levels of resource and skill in engaging directly at the points of fracture and flashpoint where public authorities in other cities fear to tread.


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One step beyond the street, the city — in association with specialist agency Gruppo Abele - has set about a programme of creating spaces where intercultural conflict can be addressed. An example of this is Via Arquata where 24 voluntary organisations and public authorities have formed a tavola sociale to anticipate and manage intercultural conflicts. Reggio Emilia has established an Intercultural centre with trained mediators with a variety of ethnic and language backgrounds who intervene whenever they feel a problem might arise — for instance if children in some schools tend to cluster too much on an ethnic basis.

No two cities are alike. Geography, demography, history and politics make each city a unique constellation of factors which need to be taken into account when designing a new strategy. Pilot cities engaged in the Intercultural cities joint programme of the Council of Europe and the European Commission are assessing their policies and approaches in a range of fields from an intercultural perspective and using this knowledge for the development of intercultural strategies. An explicit public engagement with interculturalism. A public statement that the city explicitly understands and is adopting an intercultural approach is necessary in order to announce the shift of perspective and raise awareness and debate within the community.

Such a statement could take different forms but ideally it should involve elected representatives across the political spectrum, to ensure continuity in the case of change of administration. The statement could be supplemented by an iconic action to symbolise the transition to a new era, for example, through making atonement for a past misdeed or designating a day devoted to intercultural understanding.

Awards or other schemes to reward and acknowledge single acts or lives devoted to building intercultural trust and understanding could be established. A chapter in the report outlines various intercultural activities saying. The city of Oslo declared itself an open and inclusive city in The citizens of Oslo are its future and its most cherished resource. We are citizens. The municipality of Oslo aims to mirror the diversity of its population, among its public. Development of an intercultural governance system. Cities where foreign residents have the right to vote and stand in local elections, witness a significant increase in the participation of foreigners in the life of the community, less prejudice and intercultural conflict.

Why an extended evolutionary synthesis is necessary

Efforts to support the election of nationals of migrant origin in local institutions are also an important element of the governance of diverse communities. However, there are other specific mechanisms and structures which could enable civil integration and participation of migrants and foreign residents. One of these key structures is an office at the city administration dealing with integration and intercultural relations. The advisory body should be mandated to monitor integration and intercultural relations, examine specific issues, consult relevant stakeholders and make policy recommendations.

City-wide consultation should be organised in a way which corresponds to the good intercultural consultation practice which is being studied in the context of the Intercultural Cities programme.

Research Vision Communication Group

In the British city of Bradford , the education authority found that in some neighbourhoods schools were. This was allowing little opportunity for. A process of linking between over 70 local schools has now led to.