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Living With Diversity: Everyday Encounter and the Politics of Tolerance

WILSON, HELEN,FRANCES (2011) Living With Diversity: Everyday Encounter and the Politics of Tolerance. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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ABSTRACT: This study is concerned with the uptake of tolerance as a response to the contemporary problems of managing diversity and developing cohesion in western societies.
Drawing upon recent work that has attempted to critically theorise its contemporary uses and reveal its paradoxical operations, political agendas and civilising tendencies, this study moves to question how tolerance takes place on the ground. More specifically, it examines the relationship between tolerance and everyday encounter to consider how it is embodied, produced, and sometimes compromised by the intimacies of everyday practice. Whilst state mobilisations and discourses of tolerance clearly inflect its practice, the study argues that current debates offer only a partial account of the politics of tolerance and its affectual geographies, which are shaped by additional constituents of agency. As a way into its everyday politics, the study focuses on three in particular – geographies of place, ways of thinking (including habit, memory and familiarity) and materialities – across three different spaces of encounter in Birmingham, UK.

The first site focuses upon a public bus service, which presents a challenging arena for throwntogetherness and a space of intense materiality and unusual intimacy, where movement is constrained and differences are negotiated on the smallest of scales. The second focuses upon a multicultural primary school, which is positioned as a key site for the pedagogical promotion of tolerance, to question how parents negotiate difference and their parental responsibilities through an account of habit and familiarity. The final chapter turns to a conflict management workshop, where encounters with difference are carefully engineered in an attempt to develop more tolerant individuals through a series of exercises designed to cultivate techniques of thought. Taken together, these three sites develop an account of tolerance that is more plural, unpredictable and in many cases more optimistic than prevalent debates would suggest and demonstrate how, as a response to difference, tolerance might work as part of a wider telos of social change and ethical praxis.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:"Tolerance" "encounter" "multicultualism" "Birmingham" "difference"
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Jun 2011 15:48

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