The Politics of Social Cohesion: Immigration, Community and Justice

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In contemporary liberal democracies, it is difficult to find a policy issue as divisive as immigration. A common worry is that immigration poses a threat to social cohesion, and so to the social unity that underpins cooperation, stable democratic institutions, and a robust welfare state. At the heart of this worry is the suggestion that social cohesion requires a shared identity at the societal level. The Politics of Social Cohesion considers in greater detail the impact of immigration on social cohesion and egalitarian redistribution. First, it critically scrutinizes an influential argument, according to which immigration leads to ethnic diversity, which again tends to undermine trust and solidarity and so the social basis for redistribution. According to this argument, immigration should be severely restricted. Second, it considers the suggestion that, in response to worries about immigration, states should promote a shared identity to foster social cohesion in the citizenry. It is argued that the effects of immigration on social cohesion do not need to compromise social justice and that core principles of liberty and equality not only form the normative basis for just policies of immigration and integration, as a matter of empirical fact, they are also the values that, if shared, are most likely to produce the social cohesion among community members providing the social basis for implementing justice. This argument draws heavily on both normative political philosophy and empirical social science. The normative framework defended is cosmopolitan, liberal egalitarian, and to some extent multicultural.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages320
ISBN (Print)9780198797043
ISBN (Electronic) 9780191946806
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 288597042