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European Journal of Academic Essays 1(3): 20-27, 2014

ISSN: 2183-1904



Representation of “Ethnic Residential Segregation” in British Post-2001 Race Riots National Reports.

Dr. ZRIBA, Hassen

University of Gafsa, High Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities of Gafsa, Cité Des Jeunes, 2133, Gafsa, TUNISIA


Abstract: After the 2001 race riots in some Northern British cities, ethnic residential patterns were largely read as the principal trigger of such race-related violence. Ethnic residential patterns were, thus, represented as a self-imposed segregation rather than the outcome of racist or specific socio-economic constraints. This article employs critical discourse analysis tools in order to decipher the various discursive formations that were created so as to “ethnicize” and criminalize residential patterns of ethnic minorities in cities like Bradford, Burnley and Oldham.  Two major race-related reports will be scrutinized (the Cantle Report and the Denham Report), and the concept of residential “segregation” will be the focus of the analysis. Norman Fairclough’s Textually-Oriented Discourse Analysis (TODA) is the theoretical and analytical tool to be used. Thus this article is a critical interpretive study of the official race-related discourses after the riots of 2001. The main argument of this article is that political and cultural considerations did mystify rather than clarify the reality of ethnic residential patterns. Such process of mystification is, consequently, ideological par excellence.

Key words: residential segregation, ethnicity, discourse analysis, and ideology.

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  1. Introduction

In the summer of 2001, some northern British cities witnessed a number of urban disturbances, widely defined as race riots. A plethora of explanations was given to explain the events, each of which handled the issue from a different perspective. From an official point of view, the events reflected the lack of communication between ethnic communities. The “self-segregation” of the ethnic minorities reinforced this ignorance of the others. Such “voluntary self-segregation” promoted racial tension and demoted any genuine communication; “disturbances occurred in areas which had become fractured on racial, generational, cultural and religious lines and where there was little dialogue, or much contact, between the various groups across those social divides” [1]  Though other approaches offered different readings [2], the official reading of the situation was impressively hegemonic. This article, consequently, uses Norman Fairclough’s Textually-Oriented Discourse Analysis (TODA) in order to study the ways such official discourses were made hegemonic. The resultant national race related reports (the Cantle Report and the Denham Report) constitute the corpus of this study. A qualitative and critical interpretive analysis is done to decipher the various linguistic and ideological strategies used to accomplish such task. The article is divided into different section. In the first section, a brief consideration of Norman Fairclough’s model of discourse analysis is outlined. In the second section, brief historical and contextual background of the reports is surveyed. The last one thrusts the gist of this study by analyzing the two reports in question.

  1. Norman Fairclough’s discourse analysis model (TODA)

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a branch of Linguistics that tried to focus on the relation of language to power and the way the former is employed to disseminate the effects of the latter. The job of a discourse analyst is to uncover the various linguistic structures used to maintain the status quo. For instance, Ruth Wodak, in Language, Power and Ideology [3] argued that the relationship between ideology and language is not such a simple one. Language is an important tool to entrench ideological assumptions. Thus the role of the discourse analyst is to resist such ideological work by uncovering how ideology and power work in and by language. Discourse analyst is to be critical and engaged. Critical discourse analysis turned the study of language into an interdisciplinary field. Language became a tool that can be used by scholars with various backgrounds, including media criticism and politics. Most importantly, it offers the opportunity to adopt social perspectives in the cross-cultural study of media texts (1990). Thus CDA is rather a sociolinguistic approach that is politically committed. Elzain Elgamri, surveying the works of major discourse analysts, concludes that CDA’s principles can be outlined in seven points as follows:


  • CDA is not only about both interpreting and explaining texts.
  • Texts gain their meanings by means of the dialectical relationship between text producers and receivers, who interact with various degrees of choice and access to those texts and ways of interpretations.
  • Texts acquire their meaning by being situated in particular cultural, social and ideological contexts.
  • Producers of texts operate within particular discursive practices that originally emanate from specific aims and interests that could involve exclusions and inclusions, depending on the intended objectives.
  • Discourse and language as a social practice represent, signify and constitute other social practices such as domination, prejudice, the exercise of power and subsequent resistance.
  • Power and domination relations are always produced, reproduced and exercised by means of discourse.
  • No arbitrariness is involved in linguistic features and structures: they are intended, regardless of the consciousness or unconsciousness of the choices involved. [4]


Norman Fairclough’s approach to language is textually oriented. In this article, I use Fairclough’s model of TODA in order to analyze the various linguistic and semiotic strategies used by the British New Labour government and political texts to either promote or demote certain political and cultural agendas. Fairclough asserted that the relationship between language (text) and social world is a vital one.  In 2003, he wrote

In sum, texts have causal effects upon, and contribute to changes in, people (beliefs, attitudes, etc.), actions, social relations, and the material world. It would make little sense to focus on language in new capitalism if we didn’t think that texts have causal effects of this sort, and effects on social change. [5].

Fairclough believes that linguistic practices are discursively shaped and enacted; the internal features and properties of discourse are to constitute a principal element of their interpretation. He is thus interested in how social practices are discursively shaped, as well as the resultant discursive effects of social practices. The relationship between discourse and social practices is a dialectical one since they seem to entrench each other. Fairclough’s work is an attempt to uncover the discursive practices that are hidden between the lines of social texts. He wants to disclose the unsaid ideological assumptions that shaped such textual discourses. He argued that “What is ‘said’ in a text always rests upon ‘unsaid’ assumptions, so part of the analysis of texts is trying to identify what is assumed” [6]. The job of the committed discourse analyst is not only to confine himself/herself to textual data but extra-textual social and discursive processes have to be unveiled and analyzed. According to Fairclough, the representational meaning of the text (which is basically a socio-discursive activity) includes in its clauses three major types of elements: Processes, Participants, and Circumstances. For instance, a sentence like “I read a book yesterday” the Process is “read”, the two Participants are “I” and “a book” and the Circumstance is “yesterday”. This pattern allowed the discourse analyst to cover all partners in any discoursal activity.  Thus, to speak about ethnic residential segregation in contemporary Britain, it is necessary to highlight the role played by the different elements in the production and consumption of discourse. These parts are the official authorities and media (participants), types of representation (processes) and finally temporal (Contemporary) and geographical (Britain) settings.

Fairclough’s TODA consists of three inter-related processes of analysis reflecting the three inter-related dimensions of discourse. As stated above, these processes are Processes, Participants, and Circumstances each of which is a reflection of certain dimension of discourse. Processes refer to the means and tools by which the object is produced by mainly human subjects. Participants include those who produce or consume the discourse in question. And finally, Circumstances which make up the socio-historical conditions and backgrounds which govern these processes. According to Fairclough, each dimension of discourse needs a different kind of analysis:

1 Text analysis (description),

2 Processing analysis (interpretation),

3 Social analysis (explanation). [7]

This three-step methodology allows the analyst to take into account the linguistic and the semiotic signifiers of the text as well as identifying the socio-cultural and political choices that generated them. Fairclough‘s model provides multiple points of analysis that range from the textual, the interpersonal and the social. Such a trinity of analysis emanates from Michael Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL). Halliday argued that there are three levels of analysis: ideational, interpersonal and textual. To apply Halliday’s model at the level of grammar (Textual), a discourse analyst has to systematically examine:

1       Lexicalisation

2       Patterns of transitivity

3       The use of active and passive voice

4        The use of nominalization

5       The choices of mood

6       The choices of modality or polarity

7       The thematic structure of the text

8       The information focus

9       The cohesion devices. [8]

Thus, textual and grammatical analyses are indispensible in uncovering the ways power is diffused and maintained textually. Grammatical and semiotic structures are socio-cultural selections that serve certain extra-textual targets. In the description phase, Fairclough describes and identifies the various syntactic, lexical and semiotic components of the text. The internal and intrinsic dynamics of the text are quite revealing of the prior choices of those who produced it. In the interpretation step, he refers to the situational and inter-textual contexts of the text.  Those contexts are paramount in interpreting the text and the strategies included in its production and reception. Ultimately, Fairclough moves to the explanation phase in which he analyzes the social structures that contributed to the production of the interpretative frameworks of reference of the text. Those are the historical and social conditions governing both texts and their immediate processes of analysis.

Fairclough’s TODA model is the theoretical model used in the analysis of the race-related reports in question. The Cantle Report and the Denham Report are textually analyzed; their immediate interpretative frameworks are identified and appraised; and finally, the socio-historical factors and forces that promoted their generation are churned out and explained.

  1. The criminalization of “residential segregation” and prioritization of “community cohesion”

Residential segregation was represented as the disorder that must be ordered through establishing bridges of communication between the different ethnic minorities and the host majority. Yet it should be mentioned that though residential segregation has been pivotal to the community cohesion discourse, there were no serious empirical attempts to measure it. No statistical evidence was presented by the reports to back their claims of increasing residential segregation. Ethnic residential patterns were over-simplified, and the assumptions upon which all the reports built their new order were largely concluded from popular perceptions and apprehensions. On the other hand, some political writers such as Arun Kundnani (2001) spoke of a forced segregation in which the ethnic minority suffered from increasingly aggressive discrimination and institutional racism. The anti-ethnic segregation discourse seemed to prove that residential segregation in towns like Bradford was a myth; thus, the political analyst Paul Simpson said that “[C]ontrary to the popular perception that South Asians, especially in places like Bradford [9], prefer to self-segregate, we found evidence of the desire for more mixing on the part of all ethnic/religious groups” [10]. A more balanced view was presented by Massey and Denton who showed that the residential patterns of the South Asians, whether chosen or imposed, were the outcome of a “complex interplay of many different social and economic processes” [11].

Ethnic “residential segregation” was, however, discursively represented as a tangible embodiment of the lack of ethnic minorities’ integration or what came to be called failed integration hypothesis. It has become an indicator and maker of cultural difference which was negatively read by mainstream political discourses.

Interviewed by The Independent, David Blunkett, the ex-Home Secretary, affirmed: “We need to say that we will not tolerate what we would not accept ourselves under the guise of accepting a different cultural difference. We have norms of acceptability and those who come into our home- for that is what it is- should accept those norms just as we would have to do if we went elsewhere” [12]. He spoke about the need to develop a sense of belonging to Britain within both the new immigrants and the established minorities. The requirement that minorities should feel British and respect norms of acceptability while adopting English as the first language entails a refusal of South Asian cultural practices. What Blunkett and the reports refer to as forced marriages within the Muslim South Asian community can be considered by the latter as arranged marriages. Such type of arranged marriages is a well-founded tradition within South Asian communities. It is a means to consolidate the biraderi clan system and reinforce cultural values and social ties within the extended family tradition. Thus, to feel British means forsaking such cultural identity. It means also lessening contact as much as possible with South Asia. The mother country is no longer India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, it is Great Britain. Setting the framework for the reports, Blunkett highlighted the weaknesses of British citizenship that failed to forge national unity. He redefined the meaning of citizenship when he announced that: “Citizenship means finding a common place for diverse cultures and beliefs, consistent with the core values we uphold” (emphasis is mine) [13]. The expression “we uphold”, reveals the true nature of the newly celebrated cultural diversity. It is a cultural diversity that does not violate the British-centred value system; a diversity in form not in substance.

The discourse of community cohesion represented South Asians as suffering from various crises; generational gap, problem of internal governance and identity insecurity. Commenting on such represented situation Denham affirmed: “Cantle, Clarke, Ouseley and Ritchie all draw attention to the extent which to young people’s voices have been largely ignored by decision-makers in the areas where there were disturbances. Some young people complained that the older community and religious leaders who claimed to represent them failed to articulate the experiences of the young” [14].

The values of community cohesion and cultural diversity were juxtaposed and projected as antithetical. Thus a promotion of community cohesion is a demotion of multiculturalism and vice versa. Being read as the auxiliary to ethnic socio-cultural fragmentation and segregation, multiculturalism came under severe attack after the race riots of 2001 and especially after the bombing of London in July 2005. Consequently, a criticism of multiculturalism is, we believe, a criticism of the residential and cultural segregation of British ethnic minorities and vice versa.

After the 2001 race riots, multiculturalism came under attack from many directions. It was thought to have nurtured divisive differences and compromised community sameness and cohesion. Multiculturalism, as a political ideology, was seen as responsible for ethnic cultural protectionism and residential segregation. Thus a vicious circle seems to have been created between the concept of segregation and that of multiculturalism: multiculturalism causes segregation and segregation brings up divisive multiculturalism.  Such widely-held attitudes propelled numerous sociologists and cultural critics to wage a political and theoretical war on segregation and cultural diversity in post-2001 Britain.   The British African-Caribbean leader Trevor Phillips, being a Director of the Government Commission for Racial Equality delivered a speech in September 2005, in which he warned that ghettoisation has become a feature of British ethnic residential patterns. He argued that: “Increasingly, we live with our own kind. The most concentrated areas, what the social scientists call “ghettos”, aren’t all poverty stricken and drug ridden. But they are places where more than two-thirds of the residents belong to a single ethnic group” [15]. What emerges from Philips’s speech is that segregation and basically residential segregation was on the rise, and more importantly it was implicitly accused of fostering socio-cultural fragmentation and division. Moreover, social cohesion looms large as the victim of such residential choices of British ethnic minorities.

The same discourses were advocated even by social critics that belong to ethnic minorities. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown violently attacked multiculturalism considering it as evil. She wrote: “we need to re-imagine our collective culture with ties that bind, when the old multiculturalism debate is still looking inwards, erecting new barriers between groups in our own society, instead of enabling us to collectively benefit from our diversity” [16]. Brown, thus, asks for a collective culture that guarantees community cohesion. According to her, multiculturalism creates “barriers between groups” and enhances inter-ethnic segregation.  Multiculturalism is projected as past-oriented and basically anti-British values. It is an ideology that celebrates past particular differences not future shared universal similarities. The race riots of 2001 and the London Bombings of 2005 were read as the direct outcomes of the politics of multiculturalism and segregation. Thus, segregation has been criminalized and cast as a trigger of inter-ethnic tensions while community cohesion has been delineated as the key to such inter-racial tensions and mismatch.

Immediately in the aftermath of the events of 2001, five major reports were produced in an attempt to restore national order and security. They are two national ones: The Cantle Report (2001) and the Denham Report (2002) and three local ones: the Ouseley Report of Bradford (2001), the Ritchie Report of Oldham (2001) and finally the Clarke Report of Burnley (2002). Although they differed in emphasis, all those reports assumed that tensed race relations represent a serious problem in Britain; that excessive cultural diversity and ethnic segregation are hindrances to inter-racial harmony, and that community cohesion is the best solution. The focus is on the way the Government discourses and the reports read and represented the situation of the race thesis in contemporary Britain.  Subsequent section will attempt to churn out how officially produced race-related reports try to digest and reproduce hegemonic New Labour constructions of the meaning of the late 20thc and early 21thc irreversibly multicultural «New Britain”.  The focus is mainly on the discursive formations of national reports.

  1. The issue of segregation in the national reports

Two major national reports were published in the aftermath of the 2001 riots: the Cantle Report and the Denham Report. The two reports were produced by the Home Office in order to investigate the causes and outcomes of the riots. However, their declared target was rather to initiate workable recommendations and find solutions to what they perceived as a lack of social cohesion. Yet, like all other local reports, they represented “segregation” as the pivotal trigger of social polarization and inter-ethnic tensions.

Though the Cantle Report and the Denham Report identified numerous reasons for the eruption of violence in the northern cities of England during the spring and summer of 2001 – such as the socio-economic deprivation of ethnic minorities in particular and the general population in general, irresponsible negative media coverage of ethnic issues and extremist group practices – they concentrated primarily on the question of increasing ethnic concentration and self-segregation. In those two reports, ethnic segregation seemed to be the key cause and consequence of inter-ethnic friction in Britain. 

4.1. The Cantle Report

The Cantle Report, also known as Community Cohesion: A Report of the Independent Review Team, has been a central document in shaping the post-2001 riots’ race relations. The governmental agenda has largely been influenced by the findings and recommendations of such report. The report was officially published in December 2001. It is composed of 80 pages: a foreword, six chapters and four appendices. Along with other reports, the Cantle Report represented “segregation” as the basic trigger of the race-related disturbances of 2001.  A quantitative description of the segregation-related lexis can be shown in the below stated chart:



Figure 1: Numerical frequency of some segregation-related concepts in the Cantle Report.


Central to the concept of ethnic segregation discourse was the phrase coined by Ted Cantle and his group: “the series of parallel lives” [17] that all the communities were operating. The phrase “parallel lives” seemed to sum up all the official discourse of ethnic segregation and community cohesion. Thus, the then Labour Government seemed to be encouraging social cohesion in order to make those “parallel lives” meet.

The first time the word “segregation” appeared in the report was in page nine. Ted Cantle and his group try to depict “segregation” as a persistent fact in British cities. The report goes on to claim that: “Whilst the physical segregation of housing estates and inner city areas came as no surprise, the team was particularly struck by the depth of polarization of our towns and cities” [18]. The discourse that emanates from such assumption is that segregation was no surprise; what surprised the group was its depth and extent. Thus, the Cantle Report conceives segregation as a matter of fact which is taken for granted and goes unchallenged throughout the report. Obviously, the report is engaged in naturalizing the existence of segregation. There are no empirical attempts to prove its existence and scale. As argued elsewhere in my thesis, segregation itself, when empirically and locally studied, is contested.

Paul Bagguley and Yasmin Hussain criticize the generalist and arm-chair claims of the report. For them, an “Overall extreme segregation is seen as a ‘fact’, despite no evidence being presented, and there is a fear of more ‘mono-cultural’ school developing” [19]. Having established it as an undisputable fact, the report goes on to construct it as a problem-generating phenomenon. Whenever, segregation is mentioned, it is equated with negative representations and problematic items are associated with it. For instance, in page 28, the report states that the basic goal of the local authorities and partnerships should be “to redress some of the acute problems of segregation of, and lack of contact between, particular communities” [20]. Interestingly, the same sentence was reproduced literally in page 48 which is indicative of the latent anti-segregation discourse in the report. Also, the use of lexical items such as “acute” and “problems” connotes the hegemonically constructed negative image of segregation. The paradigmatic employment of the modifier “acute” shows the deep extent of negativity of segregation in the Cantle Report. The ideology of the authors of the report is best revealed by the choice of lexis.

Later, the report explicitly concludes that segregation is responsible for almost all the socio-economic and cultural failures of British race relations. The readership of the report is told in page 59 that “Segregation reduces opportunities for understanding between faiths and cultures and for the development of tolerance”. [21] And then in page 70, the report declares that “The high levels of residential segregation found in many English towns would make it difficult to achieve community cohesion” [22].

The Cantle Report viewed community polarisation as the basic source of ethnic friction. “When I leave this meeting with you I will go home and not see another white face until I come back here next week,” said a Bradfordian Muslim of Pakistani origin. Another statement (this time a member of the white community) affirmed, “I never met anyone on this estate who wasn’t like us from around here” [23]. Those two quotations seem to reflect the ethos upon which the Cantle Report built its own strategies and recommendations. When the Community Cohesion Review Team (CCRT) visited Bradford and other rioting cities, it “was particularly struck by the depth of polarisation of our towns and cities” [24]. According to the Cantle Report, the geographical physical segregation of housing estates worsened a “very evident” ethnic polarization. Such polarization was represented as endemic in every walk of life. It meant separation in everything: education, cultural network, linguistic behavior, place of worship and so on.

Such increasing segregation, the report continued, would promote mutual ignorance between different ethnic groups, which was likely to nourish mutually xenophobic attitudes. The ethnic segregation “appears to allow ignorance about each community to develop into fear, particularly when fostered by extremists attempting to demonize a minority community” [25]. Xenophobic attitudes, fear and mutual ignorance and stereotyping seemed to be the picture of ethnic relations in the Cantle Report.

To remedy such ethnic segregation, the report made some recommendations. It asked for a “very” frank and comprehensive analysis “of the nature of separation of each community” [26] which would lead to the production of a Community Cohesion Strategy. Also, local ethnic issues should not “be seen as being ‘a little’ local difficulty” [27].They must be a national priority. Ethnic mixing should be the ultimate aim of the community cohesion policy [28].

The Cantle Report builds its recommendations on some taken-for-granted premises. It postulates that segregation widely existed in Britain; what the report did was simply to measure its depth and extent. Then segregation is constructed as a problem that required a solution. And, finally, the solution was proposed in the form of community cohesion-based political alternatives.

4.2. The Denham Report

Like the other reports, the Denham Report mainly concentrated on the issue of ethnic segregation and the reasons for such ethnic demographic distribution. It is also known as “Building Cohesive Communities: A Report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion”. It is composed of four chapters and two annexes. Its declared objective was “to report to the Home Secretary on what the Government could do to minimize the risk of further disorder, and to help build stronger, more cohesive communities.” [29]. 

However, the Denham Report, I believe, has a special importance compared to other reports (whether local or national). The report stands as a meta-study of other reports; it can be referred to as a “meta-report”.  Its findings, recommendations and even data are rather the synthetic outcome of other reports. Denham states that: “Cantle, Clarke, Ritchie and Ouseley have all identified segregation, along racial lines, as a growing problem, and a significant contributory factor to the disturbances.” [30]. The report seems to be inter-textual in its discourses. It builds on what was articulated and claimed in other reports. Yet, like all other reports, the Denham Report did not deviate from the hegemonic anti-segregation discourses.

The term ‘segregation’ and its derivatives as well as its synonyms (e.g. fractured community, polarisation, separation fragmentation…) seem to be endemic in the report: they were used more than 30 times in a thirty-five-page report. The chart below provides a numerical analysis of some selected lexical items that pertain to the issue of segregation.



Figure 2: Numerical frequency of some segregation-related concepts in the Denham Report.

Denham stated that ethnic segregation was on the rise. He wrote:

“We cannot claim to be a truly multi-cultural society if the various communities within it live, as Cantle puts it, a series of parallel lives which do not touch at any point. Housing, education and employment are key areas in which the communities in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham appear to be growing further apart”. [31]

He refers to Ted Cantle’s famous phrase “parallel lives” and in somewhere else in his report he referred to Herman Ouseley’s other well-known expression “comfort zones”. Such inter-textual reference to other reports bestows the dominant discourse of “segregation is the trigger of lack of cohesion” additional power and coherence. It is postulated that segregation is a fact and something has to be done to rectify it. However, seen from a longitudinal local perspective, what was interpreted as segregation by the Denham Report and other similar reports can be no more than a racialization and politicization of certain ethnic residential choices. It has been shown by some researchers that claims of segregation were a “myth” [32] John Denham does not deny that it is difficult to absolutely criminalize ethnic residential patterns. He explained that: “There are a number of reasons why people may choose to be close to others like themselves. These include the need for security and support, access to schools, and proximity to shops and places of religious worship”. [33] Nevertheless, he adds that: “there are reasons why we should be concerned about the apparent trend towards more segregated communities”. [34]

The concept of segregation is mentioned more than 22 times. Yet he acknowledged that “there are no easy answers for quick fixes to the deep fracturing of communities on racial, generational and religious lines now evident in parts of Bradford, Burnley and Oldham”. [35] Such a lack of quick solutions was, he added, because “[a]t this stage it is difficult to identify what is cause and what is effect in the development of segregated communities”. [36] The reasons for such segregation were multi-layered and complex. Nevertheless, Denham recommended that to tackle the negative effects of ethnic segregation “community cohesion should be an explicit aim of Government at national and local levels” [37]

However, the Denham Report gets its importance from being, first, the product of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion which was specifically set up in 2001 to consider how national policies might be used to promote better community cohesion and workable cultural diversity. Second, as mentioned earlier, the report draws on the findings and observations of a number of local reports, mainly the Ouseley Report of Bradford, One Oldham One Future of David Ritchie in Oldham (2001) and the Burnley Task Force of Lord Clarke in Burnley (2001). The Denham Report seems to be the synthesis of all the previously mentioned reports. While identifying “key issues”, the report reports other reports’ key findings and comments upon them. It states that “the fragmentation and polarisation of communities – on economic, geographical, racial and cultural lines – on a scale which amounts to segregation, albeit to an extent by choice;” [38] is a consensual finding that all reports shared. Arguably, the Denham Report, while reporting others’ views, seems to embed its own discourse within other similar discourses. However, our analysis of the five reports in question revealed that the Denham Report is closer to the Cantle Report than to other reports. Again, the nature of the Denham Report and that of the Cantle Report is decisive to their readings of the riots. They were produced by the same administrative processes (Home Office).

The discourse and findings of the Denham Report did not differ very much from that of the Cantle Report. In fact, as John Denham himself acknowledged (in the introduction), the Cantle Report informed much of his report’s analysis and recommendations. Denham expressed his own gratitude to Ted Cantle and his group for “their co-operation in allowing us to draw on the issues they have identified in framing our own recommendations” [39].Thus, the Denham Report reinterpreted the Cantle Report findings and observations.

However, oppositional readings seemed to have found a room in the Denham Report; or at least there are symptoms of appraising the dominant reading of segregation differently. For instance, Denham, commenting on the binary opposition of cohesion versus segregation, stated that:

* geographical segregation is likely to contribute to a lack of opportunity for different communities to meet, to have a dialogue and work together

*a trend towards segregation may be a symptom of deeper concerns, fear of racist attacks, or of deep seated prejudices and racism

*segregation may not reflect choice but a real and damaging lack of choice about housing, jobs and schools. [40]

Here, the report, though suggests that segregation may hinder genuine inter-cultural dialogue and interaction, (Here Denham does not deviate from the official normative reading of the situation) goes further and deeper to propose that segregation can be the outcome of less visible (and sometimes omitted) phenomena notably those of racism and lack of choice. We suggest that Denham is closer here to our argument that ethnic residential patterns are the outcome of not only pure ethnic choices but also white majority’s racism; segregation and concentration. Yet the overall discourse of the report highlights the fact that segregation is a problem whether it is a cause or an effect. We believe that the nuances in the report (as well as in other reports) try to present a more objective assessment of the events of 2001 race riots. John Denham cannot wink at the fact that his report is meant to address a wide and diverse audience. He tries to procure every reader with an ample opportunity to churn out his/her reading within the general ideological and discursive frames of the report.

  1. Conclusion

It was my target in this article to highlight the role played by various race-related reports in constructing the issue of “segregation” as problematic. Segregation, with all its types and manifestations, was considered as a tricky problem that needed solution. There was a process of normalization via problematization underway. The reports problematised segregation and defined a certain pattern of normalization which is social cohesion.  Thus the norm was defined by reference to the deviant. The order of social cohesion was defined by reference to the disorder of multiculturalism and its celebration of cultural diversity. For instance, the Denham Report, while attempting to create a balanced view of the causes and the outcomes of the 2001 race riots, projected such binary and mutually exclsive opposition of segregation and cohesion. In page 12, the report presents the two concepts in opposition: “Cohesion and Segregation” [41]. In that section, Denham used the words cohesion for about three times and eight times for the term segregation and they are built as antitheses. Denham writes that:

At this stage it is difficult to identify what is cause and what is effect in the development of segregated communities. It is equally difficult to be certain whether the geographical concentration of different communities in different areas always give rise to problems of community cohesion or whether other factors have to be present for difficulties to arise. [42]

As suggested above, the Denham Report seems to be objective in treating the issue of segregation. However, it is implied that segregation is regarded as the major reason for the lack of social cohesion. What is said does not preclude the possibility to uncover the unsaid. Thus, community cohesion is the desired solution but it faces a number of obstacles; segregation is a prime cause of such obstacles (though difficult to prove but it is felt and perceived). The discourse goes on to suggest that other factors can pose a threat to social cohesion. But it is evident that those “other factors” can be effective only when combined with segregation which projects segregation as the major trigger of social fragmentation and thus the prime eradicator of social or community cohesion.  The same discourse permeates other reports (mainly the local ones) but with nuances in perspectives and emphases.    

The Cantle Report constructs segregation more pathologic than the Denham Report. However, for them, segregation is the organizing theme of their discourses. All their premises and recommendations are built upon the claim that segregation is the problem not just a problem.

Nevertheless, the Denham Report’s conclusion that all the reports constructed segregation as a problem remains valid. The nuances in emphasis and perspective do not preclude, I think, the fact that all reports were produced by the same official administrative machinery. They constitute a class of texts that correlate inter-textually and advance a certain hegemonic discourse while yielding room to diversity of views and discourses. However, taken as whole, the reports do not deviate from the dominant reading of the situation. Whether focusing on the causes or effects of segregation, or contesting its nature, the reports agree that segregation is problematic. True that some oppositional views are mentioned but are widely backgrounded. What is foregrounded is that segregation is an anathema to a “cohesion-oriented” agenda of post-2001 race riots official discourses.


[1] Jan-Khan, M. “The Right to Riot?” Standing Conference for Community Development SCCD News, p12,   2002.


[2]  Kundnani, A. “From Oldham to Bradford: the violence of the violated”, in Race and Class, 43, 2: 105-131: Institute of Race Relations, p105, 2001.

[3] Wodak, R. Language Power and Ideology: Studies in Political Discourse. London: Benjamins Publishing Company, 1989.

[4]    Elgamri, E. Islam in the British Broadsheets: The Impact of Orientalism on Representations of Islam in the British Press. Reading, UK: Ithaca Press, pp86-87 2008.

[5]   Fairclough, N. Analyzing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. New York: Routledge, p 8,2003.


[6] p, 8.

[7] Janks, H. “Critical Discourse Analysis as a Research Tool”, University of the Witwatersrand: Johannesburg, South Africa, 2007.

(http://www.unisa.edu.au/hawkeinstitute/cslplc/documents/cdaresrchfnl.pdf) retrieved in 22/02/2008, 2007.

[8]  p, 7.

[9]  Bradford Vision. The District 5 Year Community Strategy for Bradford 2000-2005,

Bradford 2020 Vision. Bradford District Summary Document:

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[32]   BBC NEWS Online, 2001.

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[18]   p, 9.

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[20] p, 28.

[21] p, 59.

[22]  p, 70.

[23]  p, 1.

[24]  p, 9.

[25]   p,  28.

[26]   p, 29.

[27] p, 6.

[28] p, 29.

[29] Denham, J. Building Cohesive Communities: A Report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion, London: Home Office, p2, 2002.

[30]  p, 3.

[31]  p, 13.

[32]   Simpson, L.“Statistics of racial segregation: measures, evidence and policy”. Manchester:Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR), University of Manchester, 2003.

[33] Denham, J. Building Cohesive Communities: A Report of the Ministerial Group on Public Order and Community Cohesion, London: Home Office, p13, 2002.

[34]  p, 13.

[35]  p, 4.

[36]  p, 13.

[37]   p, 21.

[38]  p, 12.

[39]   p, 3.

[40]    p, 14.

[41]    p, 12.

[42]     p, 13.

Author’s profile

Dr. Hassen Zriba is a research assistant at the High Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities, University of Gafsa Tunisia. He holds a PhD in Cultural and Media Studies. Also, he has special interest in Intercultural and Translation Studies. He has published a number of articles in various academic journals. Moreover, Dr. Zriba works as an editor and a reviewer in different international journals. He is also an Editor-in- Chief of the Journal of Studies in Humanities (JSH) published bi-annually by the University of Gafsa, Tunisia. He is also founder and Editor-in- Chief of the International Journal of Humanities and Cultural Studies (IJHCS).

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