Local Case Studies

Brick Lane

Our project began with a national-level research phase in July 2010. Please see our Research Outputs section for some of the findings from our national work. From Summer 2011 to Autumn 2012 we completed a local research phase. This phase included ethnographic and qualitative research in three case study areas: the cities of Birmingham and Leicester and the borough of Tower Hamlets in London. These areas were chosen because they display significant differences in ethnic and religious demography as well as in local politics and governance arrangements. Research in these areas was conducted principally by Therese O'Toole (Birmingham), Daniel Nilsson DeHanas (Tower Hamlets) and Stephen Jones (Leicester).

In each of the three case study areas we identified and analysed key documents that relate to local strategies and policy implementation. We also studied local governance initiatives and Muslim civil society networks using ethnographic methods and interviewing at least 15 key individuals in each case study area. Our comparative analysis is bringing to light local variations in Muslim participation in governance across different political/demographic contexts as well as the nature of the connection between national policy and local practice.

During the local-level research phase we examined a variety of topics, including the following:

  • Over the last fifteen years many local faith and inter-faith initiatives have acquired public support and funding as public policy has focused less on ‘race and ethnicity’ and more on ‘faith’. We have studied how that transition from the periphery to the core has affected faith groups and inter-faith partnerships in each of the different case study areas.
  • In June 2011 the coalition government released its new ‘Prevent’ soft counter-terrorism strategy. We have studied how the new Prevent is implemented in each context, looking at how Prevent affects Muslim-government relations at the local level and observing any tensions that arise between local and national government over the strategy.
  • In November 2011 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government formally launched Near Neighbours, a £5 million government-funded programme administered by the Church Urban Fund which is designed to bring diverse communities together. Through our interviews, we have sought to understand how Near Neighbours – which is operating in each of the three case study areas – is implemented in different local contexts.
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