Difference and diversity: combining multiculturalist and interculturalist approaches to integration

Thomas Sealy*, Pier-Luc Dupont, Tariq Modood

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Multiculturalism (MC) and interculturalism (IC) as approaches to governing ethnic diversity have developed an often antagonistic relationship, borne out through scholarly as well as political debates. Yet, increasingly, scholars have begun to note that while IC-consistent policies have gained some prominence, they have done so alongside MC policies. This suggests the possibility of complementarity between the two, and prominent scholars on both sides have also begun to stress complementarity. What this might look like, however, has not yet been well researched or developed. Focusing on the UK context, an important site in which debates between MC and IC have played out, this article aims to address this point of complementarity. It does so through an analysis of documents and interviews from civil society organisations who work in areas of integration, diversity and anti-discrimination at national and local levels. The article identifies four models of complementarity and shows the divergent and contested ways in which theoretical aspects of competing normative positions are combined empirically. In this way, it develops an argument for the continued centrality of MC for policy in these areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Sociological Review
Early online date19 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2024.


  • multiculturalism
  • interculturalism
  • integration
  • diversity
  • anti-discrimination


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