Belonging, Social Cohesion and Fundamental British Values

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Many of the often complex debates central to the topics of belonging and social cohesion have their origins in contrasting interpretations of the ideal relationship between citizens. Governments across much of the western world continue to struggle to reconceptualise what it is to ‘belong together’at a time of growing diversity and migration.This article considers three conceptual difficulties involved in the directive for schools to actively promote Fundamental British Values to address this issue. First, the directive fails to refer to any relevant theories around the concept of belonging, one of the major strands of research in social cohesion. The concept of ‘perceived belonging’ is thus introduced to further explore what the bond between citizens ‘looks like’. Secondly, the lack of theory leads to a restriction of the values needed to support the bond.Thirdly, there is then a lack of sufficient clarity of action for how this might be translated into school practice. Finally, I suggest that the directive needs further theoretical engagement to be successful.

© 2018, Taylor & Francis. The attached document (embargoed until 28/02/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in the British Journal of Educational Studies uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
Issue number4
Early online date28 Aug 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Aug 2018


  • Fundamental British Values
  • social cohesion
  • belonging together
  • perceived belonging
  • promotion policies

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