ACCEPT is concerned with the increasing cultural diversity that characterises European societies and the ways in which it is possible to enhance societal cohesion while respecting ethnic, religious and cultural plurality. ACCEPT debates the principles, practices, and institutional arrangements that are needed to promote tolerance and acceptance of cultural differences.
See the new booklet (pdf, 1.7mb) outlining the ACCEPT project.
Professor Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute, Florence
March 2010 – March 2013
During the first years of the 21st century, Europe has been experiencing increasing tensions between national majorities and ethnic or religious minorities, particularly with marginalised Muslim communities. The question that is being posed, some times in more and others in less politically correct terms, is how much cultural diversity can be accommodated within liberal and secular democracies. The debate has been intensive in the media, in political forums as well as in scholarly circles. In policy terms, the main conclusion drawn from such debates has been that multicultural policies have failed and that a return to an assimilationist approach (emphasising national culture and values) is desirable. The ACCEPT project questions whether European societies have become more or less tolerant during the last 20 years, what tolerance means in different countries but also in the same country under different circumstances, for different issues and with regard to different minority groups (immigrant or native).
The ACCEPT project responds to the quest for exploring and understanding tolerance in European societies and addresses key messages and recommendations for policy makers. In particular it analyses:
The first phase of the project starts with a literature review of different conceptions of tolerance as they are presented and discussed in the relevant scholarly literature. Each partner team in each of the 15 participating countries will review the policies and practices adopted so far in each country, how they have evolved, which have been the main cultural diversity challenges for each country’s dominant culture, and how they have been solved. The second and main phase of the projects involves two case studies to be conducted in each country. Case study 1 looks at the challenges that cultural diversity brings in the development and implementation of public policy, with special reference to schools. Case study 2 looks at issues of political participation and representation of minority groups. In Phase 3 of the project we shall develop a set of tolerance indicators. Our indicators will include definitions of tolerance as a value, social practices that are defined as tolerant or intolerance and, finally, institutional arrangements and public policies that are considered tolerant or intolerant.
The project brings together a wide range of European countries: notably western European states (Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, UK) with a long experience in receiving and incorporating immigrant minorities; ‘new’ migrant host countries (Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland); central European countries that have recently joined the EU (Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland) and Turkey. Find out more on the main project pages hosted at the European University Institute, Florence.
The contribution of team based in Bristol will be to study how cultural diversity has been made and re-made in British society. We suggest that to consider what types of tolerance are most apt to capture relations and differences between majority and minority groups in society, we need to be concerned with the nature of the differences in question. The accommodation of some differences requires the removal of obstacles that stand in the way of equal participation and the incorporation of minority groups into a horizon of universal rights. Other differences are integral to a person’s sense of worth and self-esteem and come with strong claims for their preservation and accommodation in the public sphere.
In our contribution to ACCEPT, we will consider the British experience with ‘multiculture’ and ethno-religious difference. We will investigate processes of cultural mixing and hybridisation, and we will consider the way claims for the accommodation of religion in the public sphere have been received and debated. We suggest that moral and legal positions that do justice to differences thus conceived are distinct and require a re-worked and extended concept of tolerance.