Muslims and Community Cohesion in Britain

June 2005 – June 2007
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This research project investigated factors contributing to or undermining community cohesion in Britain. It focused on three contrasting urban areas of the UK in which significant numbers of Muslim migrants and long term Muslim residents are living: the borough of Newham in London, and the cities of Birmingham and Bradford.

A lack of ‘community cohesion’ in parts of the UK was identified in a series of official reports as an underlying factor in urban disturbances in northern towns in 2001. More recently, concerns about radicalisation associated with terrorist attacks ensured that the debate on cohesion increasingly focused on Britain’s Muslim communities. Developing our understanding of the dynamics that impact on cohesion is critical in ensuring effective policy interventions.

This research analysed new data on the lived experience of everyday cohesion in three areas in England where proportionally large numbers of Muslims and people of other faiths and of no faith – both recently arrived migrants and established residents – live alongside one another. The focus on Muslims allowed for the role of faith communities in the cohesion process, as well as the relationships between new and settled groups with similar and different ethnic or religious backgrounds, to be explored. The resulting study compares the experience of Muslims in these local areas with the experience of other residents, and sheds new light on the ways in which, by way of key cohesion indicators, various views and experiences of British Muslims and non- Muslims are shaped.

Principal Investigator

Hiranthi Jayaweera, Tufyal Choudhury (University of Durham)


Steve Vertovec, Sarah Spencer, Yunas Samad (University of Bradford)


Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Immigration and Inclusion Programme