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Proximity by design?: affective citizenship and the management of unease

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2010
JournalCitizenship Studies
Number of pages14
Original languageEnglish


‘Community cohesion’ is the preferred framework for managing ‘race relations’ and ‘conflict’ in contemporary Britain. Initially adopted in government policy following civil disturbances in the summer of 2001, ‘community cohesion’ combined visions of shared belonging with strategies of managing diversity. More recent versions still place a strong emphasis on ideas of shared belonging but these are combined with strategies of managing migration and identity which are deployed in view of securing local communities against threats posed by extremism, deprivation, diversity and feelings of ‘white unease’. This article examines how the community cohesion agenda relies on strategies of governance that seek to design particular kinds of human behaviours such as ‘mixing’ and ‘meaningful interaction’, in view of ‘delivering’ cohesion in the community. I analyse the cohesion agenda as a form of governance that operates through mechanisms of subjectivation. However, instead of privileging the responsible, discerning, rational, autonomous ‘free subject’, I argue that community cohesion is a form of ‘governing through affect’ that draws on and targets the affective subject for certain strategies and regulations aimed at designing people’s behaviours and attitudes in the public domain.