Anti-racism, equal opportunities, community cohesion and religious identity in a rural space, 1999 onwards
This is the last chapter to examine local government policy in Wiltshire and it focuses on the post-1999 period. It traces the county’s immigrant, integration and diversity policies as Wiltshire’s local administration once again balanced a national-level directive and mandate with local circumstances and particularism. Local policies and measures during this period were influenced by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, the Macpherson Report and the focus on community cohesion, as well as the importance awarded to anti-racism, equal opportunities and religious identity. Yet they were simultaneously underpinned by an inherent rurality, and an awareness that migrant communities in smaller and more isolated areas were potentially more difficult to reach. Policies discussed include Wiltshire County Council’s first race equality scheme, and a range of measures that addressed health and social services, valued culture and religion, and increasingly recognised, and responded to the needs of, Muslim communities across the county.
This chapter places the case study of Wiltshire within the context of rural Britain. It offers an in-depth overview and assessment of the existing historiography, and addresses the extent to which there has existed a rural dimension to integration from the perspectives of the county’s local authority and the Muslim migrant communities themselves. It shows that rurality matters, and that both its local authority’s political approach and Muslims’ experiences across the post-1960s period have set Wiltshire apart from the dominant urban narrative, and have shown that rural developments have often been far more complex than has been recognised. Finally, it argues that the rural dimension of Muslim integration in Britain has been neglected for too long and that it is essential to take into consideration if we are to reach a thorough and multidimensional understanding of the Muslim integration process.
This chapter draws upon oral history interviews conducted with members of Wiltshire’s Muslim migrant communities. Through the interviews, migrants’ narratives and histories, and thus the ‘human’ side of the migration process, are detailed, and subjective perceptions and important events and themes in the interviewees’ migratory experiences emerge. A number of insights into Muslim migrant integration in rural Britain are offered, as are interviewees’ experiences, views and observations across a range of areas. These include migration histories and stories of settlement in Wiltshire, and post-settlement experiences in relation to identity formation, employment, housing, education, racism and discrimination, cross-community relations, and religious practices and recognition. Overall, the oral history interviews complement the archival material, reconstructing parts of the county’s post-war history of Muslim minorities’ settlement, experiences and integration that are simply not captured in written sources.
This chapter introduces the county of Wiltshire. It offers an insight into the county’s intrinsic rurality, its economic history and political structure, and the reasons why it constitutes a pertinent case study for an assessment of Muslim migrant integration in rural Britain across the post-1960s period. It provides an overview of the county’s history of migration and its previously unexplored Muslim migrant communities, including the Moroccan community in and around Trowbridge, and Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Turks in Bradford on Avon, Calne, Devizes, Melksham and Salisbury. In doing so, it reveals the inherent and multifaceted heterogeneity that emerges when studying Muslims in Wiltshire, and it introduces the small body of existing research that this book builds upon.
This chapter analyses how the findings of the research relate to current topical issues. It does this by examining the data in light of recent events. This leads to a discussion on how socio-political events are informed by media discourse, and how those discourses continue to inform the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims on an everyday basis.
This chapter discusses how the media practices of a media institution relate to the practices of individuals. By exploring the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims’ media behaviour, it is possible to ascertain in what ways a mediacratic society informs and structures behaviour. This will provide a natural follow-on from chapters 1 and 2, and informs the reader as to how media as an institution relates to socio-political practices.
This chapter explores how current portrayals of Islam and Muslims influence society. It does so by putting research data gathered using focus groups and interviews with non-Muslim participants in dialogue with one another. This then leads to a discussion about how this affects socio-political engagement, with a particular reference to the spreading of ideologies, discourses, and political capital. This will be explored by looking at how media communication and public debate affect community relations on the ground, through participant voices.
The book starts by detailing the theoretical and methodological background to the work, and how this informs the work itself. It then goes on to explain the significance of each individual chapter to the study as a whole, as well as the field in general.
This book considers how the coverage of Islam and Muslims in the press informs the thoughts and actions of non-Muslims. As media plays an important role in society, analysing its influence(s) on a person’s ideas and conceptualisations of people with another religious persuasion is important. News reports commonly feature stories discussing terrorism, violence, the lack of integration and compatibility, or other unwelcome or irrational behaviour by Muslims and Islam. Yet there is little research on how non-Muslims actually engage with, and are affected by, such reports. To address this gap, a content and discourse analysis of news stories was undertaken; verbal narratives or thoughts and actions of participants were then elicited using interviews and focus groups. The participant accounts point towards the normativity of news stories and their negotiated reception patterns. Individual orientations towards the media as an information source proved to be a significant factor behind the importance of news reports, with individually negotiated personal encounters with Muslims or Islam further affecting the meaning-making process. Participants negotiated media reports to fit their existing outlook on Islam and Muslims. This outlook was constructed through, and simultaneously supported by, news reports about Muslims and Islam. The findings suggest a co-dependency and co-productivity between news reports and participant responses. This research clearly shows that participant responses are (re)productions of local and personal contextuality, where the consequences of socially constructed depictions of Islam and Muslims engage rather than influence individual human thoughts and actions.
This chapter employs Foucault’s understanding of discourse, as suggested in the introduction, to analyse how media in Britain as a system of knowledge, engages with Islam. The British press is understood here as one method for managing and producing Muslims, in a political, sociological, ideological, and imaginative manner. As a consequence, these statements constitute how Muslims and Islam are perceived and can transform their audience’s understanding of Muslims and Islam in accordance with the presupposed system of knowledge.