Social integration and cohesion at a crossroads: where to now?

When: Tue 28 Jan 2020 10:00 am - Tue 28 Jan 2020 02:00 pm
Where: Coin Street Community Conference Centre, 108 Stamford Street, London, SE1 9NH - View Map

Recent years have seen a number of government attempts to address the question of how integrated the UK is across spatial, economic, ethnic and faith lines. If we bring in other factors, such as civic participation and the age of citizens, we can see that this is a complex environment in which to understand and drive change. In particular, the rise of identity politics, and the Brexit process, have raised concerns about social fractures and political mobilisation along ethnic or religious lines.

So what is the way forward for integration and cohesion?

This event will present timely new research on the state of social integration in the UK from different perspectives, based on Understanding Society – providing evidence of both progress and significant challenges. We are hosting a debate to foster a better understanding of what conditions need to be created to enhance integration and cohesion, including turning around the tide of hate crimes. A well-informed panel and an interactive format will enable delegates to share their knowledge and experiences.

The Government’s Integrated Communities Strategy (2018) defines integrated communities as places where people – whatever their background – live, work, learn and socialise together. Practical approaches highlight the importance of English language skills among migrants, positive social contact and building meaningful relationships – often through shared activities, arts, sports and culture. What ‘successful’ integration looks like may be difficult to define, and how we live together in a super-diverse society is a constant process of learning and adaptation. However, most people agree that the components of integration are multi-dimensional – the British Academy’s Cohesive Societies review  identifying the importance of both social characteristics, such as solidarity, shared values, and a sense of belonging, and structural characteristics, such as the political and economic dimensions of a society. Many would also agree that creating social and material environments that promote integration is better facilitated locally but social media and digital technologies now adds a new dimension.

In addressing the challenges of integration and cohesion, some of the questions being asked are: How are national, ethnic and political identities being shaped at a time of great change? How important is active citizenship, i.e. civic and political participation, to integration? How are household incomes shaping spatial segregation at neighbourhood level? Where is progress stuck when it comes to equality of labour market opportunity and social mobility across different groups?

Who is the event for?

This is an interactive policy event, bringing different insights together, and promoting a cross-sectoral conversation on a challenging area of policy. It will bring together people from local authorities, arts and cultural organisations, educationalists, civic organisations, refugee support groups, religious organisations, government departments, think tanks and academia. 

The event is free to attend, but you need to register in advance. 

Launch of Insights 2020

The event will see the launch of the Understanding Society Insights 2020 report. This annual publication highlights policy-relevant findings from longitudinal research that uses Understanding Society’s rich data and provides commentary from leading policy thinkers and practitioners. This year the publication profiles longitudinal evidence covering three themes: social integration; geographical mobility; and the labour market and health.

Programme (draft)

10.00 - 10.30 Registration

10.30 - 10.35 Welcome and introduction

Chair (tbc)

10.35 - 10.50 Headline findings from Understanding Society

10.50 - 11.10 Group discussions: state of integration and cohesion

11.10 - 12.30 Panel and discussion session

  • Catherine Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Jo Cox Foundation
  • Professor Adrian Favell, Chair in Sociology and Social Theory, University of Leeds and principal research investigator for Northern Exposure: Race, Nation and Disaffection in "Ordinary" Towns and Cities after Brexit
  • Professor Jenny Phillimore, Professor of Migration and Superdiversity, University of Birmingham and Director of Institute for Research into Superdiversity
  • Debbie Weekes Bernard, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Great London Authority
  • Member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration (tbc)

12.30 – 12.35 Closing remarks

12.35 - 14.00 Lunch, coffee and networking