Tolerance, respect and civility amid changing cities

Jon Bannister and Ade Kearns

in Securing respect

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9781847420947
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303336 | DOI:
Tolerance, respect and civility amid changing cities

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Britain has a reputation for toleration. In the first half of the twentieth century, tolerance was regarded as one of several British virtues, as seen from experience by foreigners. Inevitably, the culture of tolerance became one of Britain's hallmarks and identities. This culture has also seeped into government policies. Reputation and rhetoric, therefore, supported the notion that Britain is a tolerant place to live in. This chapter presents an image of Britain as a non-tolerant place as suggested by the realities of public opinion and public policy. It defines tolerance and specifies its relationship to civility and respect. Although it is argued that active engagement with others is an important foundation of tolerance, the chapter illustrates, however, that engagement and tolerance are less likely to arise as a result of the purified public realm, and that tolerance is very context specific. The chapter also discusses how a combination of global forces, which increased the need for tolerance and a public policy that highlighted ‘otherness’ and that seeks to support preference for privatism through an increasing regulation of ‘inappropriate behaviours’, one that serves to create a ‘cycle of intolerance’. The chapter concludes that the pursuance of a form of a cohesion that stresses conformity and consensus is counterproductive, as it serves to emphasise social inequality and to frame those inequality as undesirable and unacceptable, rather than to encourage tolerance.

Keywords: toleration; tolerance; culture of tolerance; public opinion; public policy; civility; respect; engagement; cycle of intolerance

Chapter.  7906 words.  Illustrated.

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