35 / 2012
Ester Serra Mingot

Book Reviews - Marie Macey, Multiculturalism, Religion and Women: Doing Harm by Doing Good?, Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke, 2009 (Ester Serra Mingot)

Multiculturalism, Religion and Women; Doing Harm by Doing Good? is a feminist and sociological critique of multicultural theory and its application to reality in the particular setting of Bradford, UK. Through empirical research, Marie Macey, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bradford, goes back to the controversial question posed by Susan Moller Okin: ‘Is multiculturalism bad for women?’ (Okin 1999: 9–24), arguing that multiculturalism is not only bad for women from an ethnic minority, but also for liberal democracy, for the coexisting communities (majority and minority), and for the society as a whole. Through six chapters, she develops these arguments and tries to demonstrate the negative effects of multiculturalism as a political tool in different fields, questioning whether‘political correctness’ can take priority over fundamental issues, such as: academia, by limiting many research findings; the law-making processes in the policy-making arena; and the blocking of professional practice.

The first part of the book provides the reader with an overview of multiculturalism’s development as an answer to the cultural and religious diversity in society in the particular case of Britain. An awareness of social divisions and racism starting in the early 1960s led the British government in the late 1980s to implement a series of tolerance and non-discrimination social policies and practices from dif- ferent ideological perspectives, such as assimilation, integration, cultural pluralism, and multiculturalism. The acceptance of the right of self-definition in the academic, policy, and practice spheres showed the growing influence of minority pressure groups operating from an anti-racist and multicultural framework. Thus the riots in 2001, perpetrated by Muslim Pakistanis, resulting from residential and social separation, led to the concepts of community integration and social cohesion emerging as the latest ideologies, based on the belief that interaction between groups and inter-ethnic mixing can reduce stereotyping and prejudice.


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