Objective & Mission
ACCEPT PLURALISM is about toleration and acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity in contemporary Europe. This new European FP7 project [Socio-Economic Sciences & Humanities] investigates the meanings of tolerance in a variety of contexts with a special focus on ‘what needs to be done’ actually in Europe in order to proceed to more coherent societies, while respecting ethnic, religious and cultural plurality.
In recent times, the integration and accommodation of ethnic and religious minorities and their special needs or claims has been an important concern for the European Union. In some countries challenges relate more to immigrant groups while in others they refer to native minorities. The question that has often been posed, in more or less politically correct terms, is how much cultural diversity can be accommodated within liberal and secular democracies. It is in this context that the ACCEPT PLURALISM project responds to the need to investigate whether European societies have become more or less tolerant during the past 20 years. The project investigates what tolerance means in different countries and under different circumstances. Do we (not) tolerate specific practices or specific minority groups (immigrant or native) or indeed specific individuals.
The divide between liberal tolerance (not interfering with practices or forms of life of a person even if one disapproves of them) and egalitarian tolerance (referring to institutional arrangements and public policies that fight negative stereotyping, promote positive inclusive identities and reorganise the public space in ways that accommodate diversity) lies at the core of ACCEPT PLURALISM research. However, the borderline between what is tolerable and what is not tolerable is not always clear-cut and not everyone agrees on where the borderline lies. Which are the processes through which the lines are drawn here or there? What are the implications of drawing the boundary here or there? Are the political discourses on pluralism relevant to the actual policies and/or to their implementation? What is the difference between (in)tolerant practices, policies and institutions?
ACCEPT PLURALISM reviews critically past empirical research and the scholarly theoretical literature on the topic. It conducts original empirical research in 14 EU member states and one accession country (Turkey) focusing on key events of national and European relevance that thematise different understandings and practices of tolerance and/or acceptance of ethnic and religious diversity.
The purpose of ACCEPT PLURALISM is twofold. We will create an original theoretical and normative framework of different types of (in)tolerance to diversity, and also explore adequate policy responses with a view to providing key messages for policy makers. Adequate policies seek meeting points between the realities and expectations of European and national policy makers, civil society, and minority groups.
Fifteen countries are represented in the ACCEPT PLURALISM consortium – fourteen EU members: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and one accession country: Turkey. These countries produce a mosaic of diverse experiences and traditions regarding religious, ethnic and cultural diversity: western European states with a long experience in receiving and incorporating immigrant minorities; ‘new’ migrant host countries essentially southern-European, central European states that have recently joined the EU and an associated state, all of them mostly concerned by emigration rather than immigration but also characterised by a significant variety of native minority populations.