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My PhD thesis analyses the relationship between diversity and unity in in the UK and the Netherlands. Multicultural dilemmas have been particularly salient in these two countries that have allegedly seen a ‘crisis of multiculturalism’ and a turn to national identity. The thesis argues that these states should promote an inclusive national identity that can be interpreted in different ways (to sustain cohesion); and multicultural policies that facilitate equal status (to sustain widespread actual belonging and attachment to national identity).
This argument is arrived at through a contextual approach to political theory that draws on empirical analysis. Principles cannot be derived directly from context, but if normative proposals aim to be practically relevant they need to be responsive to the intricacies of the issues they address. The thesis develops two criteria to ensure such relevance: proposals need to be both morally defensible and politically feasible. The contextual awareness required to meet them is furnished through the study of parliamentary debates using frame analysis, a form of discourse analysis. Several competing frames are found that offer alternative representations of the appropriate balance between unity and diversity – although they all accept the existing framework of liberal democratic institutions, and the permanence of cultural diversity. These frames reflect the interpretive reconstruction of the internal logic and consistency of the positions put forward in debate.
This understanding of the debate forms the starting point for normative reflection but not its limitation; the conclusions therefore might hold insights for a wider context.
I am interested in normative theory, diversity in liberal societies, post-structuralism, public policy and the role discourse can play in bringing about changes. Moreover, I am interested in the effects of the EU and other international organisations on national policies and discourses.
I am also part of the University's network on Re-Constructing Multiculturalism.