ESRC White Rose DTC Network Studentship Rethinking Multiculturalism from Below


Session 2013-2014 – Closing Date 15 March 2013 (23:59 pm)

Network: Reshaping Multiculturalism Through Cultural Practices

Alongside debates around multiculturalism in relation to forms of governance, multiculturalism can also be understood as a lived reality of encounters between people of diverse ethnic and/or religious identities. This concern with ‘multiculturalism from below€™ seeks to move the debate about multiculturalism and ‘whether or not it works’ from a concern with formal institutions and cultural and political organisations to observations about how people practice and experience multiculturalism in their everyday lives (Valentine, 2008). In recent years this has moved from premature celebrations of unproblematic cosmopolitanism in urban public spaces to a closer concern with encounter and inequalities in the micro-spaces of everyday life, such as in schools and on public transport (Wilson, 2012).


This project will focus on encounters in everyday spaces, focusing in particular on commercial locations, such as shops, malls and retail parks. In so doing the project re-examines the unplanned encounters of €œmulticultural drift (Hall, 2000), exploring the ways in which place-specific rules of encounter with strangers are negotiated across a range of differences (ethnic and religious, but also gendered etc) in commercial settings. It is envisaged that the research will involve extensive observation in relevant spaces, combined with qualitative interviews. In seeking to €˜rethink multiculturalism from below€™ we envisage that the project will engage critically with theoretical debates around contact theory, affect and inter-corporeal relationality, (what Zygmunt Bauman called) €˜the stranger, and cosmopolitanism, with a focus on the ways in which the privatised practices of the consuming individual interact with encounters across racialised and ethnicised difference in semi-public commercial environments such as shopping centres and public transport.

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  • To identify and conceptualise the principal varieties of everyday multicultural encounters in commercial spaces in contemporary Britain.
  • To assess how far these encounters contribute to the construction of multiculturalism from below and how such experiences are evaluated by those involved in them.
  • To examine how people from both majority and minoritised ethnic and/or religious groups experience and evaluate multicultural encounters in public and semi-public commercial spaces.



Application Procedure


For more information contact Dr Paul Bagguley ( )


Value of Award


Full awards provide UKEU academic fees and a maintenance grant paid at standard Research Council rates (£13,590 in Session 2012/13) for full-time study for eligible candidates. 


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