Academic Workshop: Sense of Belonging in a Diverse Britain

The Dialogue Society, Birmingham Branch and Coventry University’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies invites abstracts from scholars and relevant practitioners who wish to share and explore ideas and research findings concerning the sense of belonging in contemporary Britain’s diverse society.

Open to Everyone
Free to Attend

Coventry University

Bénédicte Chaix

Linguistic Consultant and Researcher

Dr Chris Gifford

Head of Department of Behavioural and Social Sciences in University of Huddersfield

Dr Stephen Cowden

Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Coventry University

Gurnam Singh

Social Work academic at Coventry University

Josephine Kwhali

Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Coventry University

Michalis Poupazis

PhD student and Teaching Assistant at the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, Music Faculty, UCC, Ireland

Nasar Meer

Reader in Comparative Social Policy and Citizenship

Oula Kadhum

Researcher on the differences in political mobilisation of the Iraqi diaspora in the UK, Germany and Sweden.

Organisers: Dialogue Society, Birmingham Branch, and Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies, Coventry University


To download the Call for Abstracts A4 sized poster please click here.


To download the pdf file please click here.


The Dialogue Society, Birmingham Branch and Coventry University’s Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies invites abstracts from scholars and relevant practitioners who wish to share and explore ideas and research findings concerning the sense of belonging in contemporary Britain’s diverse society. The Dialogue Society sees a broad and seemingly reasonable consensus that sense of belonging is vital for a thriving and peaceful society, and accordingly wishes to contribute to illuminating its character and effects and exploring how it can be cultivated.

‘Sense of belonging’ is a phrase often heard in discussions of the cohesion of our society and, particularly, instances of its breakdown. Following the urban disturbances of summer 2011 commentators across the spectrum speculated about how rioters could have come to feel so little sense of belonging to their local area that they could loot and torch their local shops and incite such fear in their communities. The Reading the Riots research undertaken by LSE and the Guardian cited a sense of alienation as a widely shared characteristic of the rioters, with barely half feeling ‘part of British society.’ The same questions about sense of belonging, or the lack of it, have been asked in the wake of terrorist attacks in which young British people brought up in Britain have murdered fellow citizens. And the need for belonging is frequently cited as a key driver of gang membership.

The crime and social problems associated in public discourse with the lack of a sense of belonging are not the reserve of ethnic/cultural minorities. In this workshop, we invite contributors to shed light on the nature, causes and effects of sense of belonging and of its absence both in minority communities and majority communities. We seek to examine the impact of a lack of sense of belonging outside dramatic cases of crime and anti-social behavior as well as in those cases. We have a particular interest in contributions exploring how the absence of a sense of belonging might be addressed.

Contributions will be discussed among a diverse group of academics, professionals and opinion formers at a one-day workshop, 20th November 2014, to be held at Coventry University. As an outcome we aim to produce a publication from the presented papers and relevant debates generated during the Q&As.

Workshop Schedule

09:00 – 09:30 Arrival and Registration
09:30 – 09:45 Introduction from the organisers and editorial team
09:45 – 10:00 Keynote speech 1
10:00 – 12:00 Panel 1
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch
13:00 – 13:15 Keynote Speech 2
13:15 – 15:15 Panel 2
15:15 – 15:40 Coffee break
15:40 – 17:40 Panel 3
17:40 – 18:00 Closing remarks comments


PANEL 1: Economy, Politics and Sense of Belonging

  • Looking up in Scotland? Multinationalism, Multiculturalism and Political Elites by Nasar Meer
  • The new Britishness: remaking belonging and non-belonging in an era of austerity by Dr Chris Gifford
  • Social Cohesion in the new Age of Capital by Stephen Cowden and Gurnam Singh
  • Feeling at home? Reading housing discourse as a barrier to belonging in Britain by Rebecca Ehata

PANEL 2: Multiple identities and Sense of Belonging

  • A Patriotism in Fragments by Prof Les Back
  • Multiple Belongings: Interreligious Marriage Between Pakistani Muslims and non-Muslims by Audrey C. Allas
  • “Citizen Of The World”: Sense Or Lack Of Belonging? by Bénédicte Chaix
  • ‘The sense of Belonging and the migrant experience of British Pakistanis in Britain,’ as explored through the literary work of Qaisra Shahraz’ fiction; Revolt and short stories, A Pair of Jeans & Escape by Qaisra Sahraz

PANEL 3: Diasporic Communities and Sense of Belonging

  • ‘Placebo Nostalgia’: The Greek-Cypriot Diaspora in Birmingham, Its Churches, and Limits to Who Can Belong by Michalis Poupazis
  • Diaspora mobilisation and belonging in multicultural Britain: the case of the Iraqi diaspora in the aftermath of the 2003 Iraq war by Oula Kadhum
  • Belonging and believing: Learning from the narratives of African-Caribbean Christian elders by Josephine Kwhali


In general, participants will need to cover travel and accommodation costs.


Workshop proceedings will be published in advance of the Workshop to allow contributors to read one another’s papers and engage with them more deeply and to disseminate the papers more widely to relevant scholars, researchers and libraries. See here for an example of our workshop proceedings’ publications.

Edited versions of some papers may be selected for either of the two Journals published by the organizers. Authors of selected papers will be notified in due course.

In addition, an edited version of all or some of the papers presented may also be published by an independent reputable publishing house. See here and here for edited publications of Dialogue Society conferences.

Copyright of the papers accepted to the Workshop will be vested in the Dialogue Society.

Call for Papers

Authors are invited to send abstracts (maximum 400 words) of their proposed papers addressing questions such as the following:

  • Do we need more clarity about British values in order to promote a sense of belonging in British society? If so, who identifies those values, and how?
  • Has ‘state multiculturalism’ encouraged or undermined a sense of belonging?
  • Where in British society are we seeing a lack of sense of belonging?
  • Is the cultivation of a sense of belonging best served by paying more (affirmative) attention to cultural difference, or less?
  • Does a strong sense of belonging to a particular cultural group tend to enhance or undermine people’s relationships with the wider community?
  • How do we achieve a healthy balance between celebrating diverse identities and cultivating a sense of common belonging to Britain? How can families and communities keep their distinctive heritage alive while cultivating a sense of belonging where they are?
  • What factors – social, political, economic and/or cultural – encourage a sense of belonging in British society?
  • What are the most significant barriers to feeling a sense of belonging in Britain?
  • How far does immigration status (including citizenship) affect people’s sense of belonging?
  • What is the role of sense of belonging, and/or the lack of it, in:
    • Gangs
    • Urban disturbances
    • ‘Home-grown’ terrorism in the UK?
  • How does a lack of sense of belonging impact people’s lives, aside from the cases of those involved in crime or antisocial behaviour?
  • How do traditional British symbols such as the Union Jack function in British society (to encourage and express belonging and/or to exclude from belonging)?
  • ‘United’ Kingdom? In an age of devolution, and as Scotland debates an independent future, is it to ‘Britain’ that British citizens feel they belong?
  • How far does Britain’s foreign policy affect the sense of belonging of British citizens with roots abroad?
  • What role can/should the British education system play in instilling a sense of belonging?
  • What effect, if any, do faith schools have on pupils’ sense of belonging to the wider community?
  • What is the role of the third sector in encouraging a sense of belonging among diverse communities?
  • The controversy of citizenship tests: what must a person know in order to belong in Britain?
  • How far is the lack of a sense of belonging a (neglected) problem within majority communities? How can the problem be addressed?
  • What can be done, by parents, schools, or voluntary organisations, to help young people negotiating complex identities to grow up with a secure sense of belonging?
  • How far does faith shape where, and to whom, British citizens feel they belong?
  • Does nationalism necessarily involve placing limits on who can belong?

Editorial Board

Prof Eddie Halpin, Leeds Metropolitan University
Prof Alan Hunter, Coventry University
Dr Karim Murji, The Open University
Prof Alpaslan Ozerdem, Coventry University
Dr Richard Race, University of Roehampton
Prof Simon Robinson Leeds Metropolitan University

Workshop Co-ordinator

The workshop co-ordinator is Mustafa Demir. Any questions should be addressed to him by email:

Submission Procedure

Abstracts and CVs should be submitted, in English only, as MS Word documents attached to an email to Mustafa Demir,, no later than 17:00 UK time, 16th May 2014.

Authors must indicate at this stage if audio-visual equipment may be required in the presentation of their paper and must give any relevant technical specifications.

The first page of the manuscript should contain:

  • The title
  • The name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) of the author(s)
  • The address, telephone, and fax numbers (as well as the e-mail address) of the corresponding author
  • An abstract of 250 words
  • A biography of 250 words
  • 6 keywords

Manuscripts should be approximately 4,000 to 8,000 words, excluding bibliography. Longer manuscripts will be considered only in exceptional circumstances.

Articles will be peer reviewed by members of the Editorial Board.

Schedule for Submissions

  1. Abstracts (400 words maximum) and CVs (maximum of 2 pages, including any personal statement and/or listing of publications or professional experience) to be received by 17:00 UK time, 16th of May 2014.
  2. Abstracts to be short-listed by the Editorial Board and papers invited by 23rd May 2014.
  3. Papers to be received by 6th August 2014.
  4. Papers reviewed by the Editorial Board and classed as: Accepted – No Recommendations; Accepted – See Recommendations; Conditional Acceptance – See Recommendations; Not Accepted.
  5. The outcome of the review (including any recommendations for revisions or improvements) communicated to authors by 10th September 2014.

Final papers to be received by 15th October 2014.

Style Guide for Contributors

Manuscripts should be presented in a form and style as set out the Journal’s Style Guide below.

  1. Spelling: Use Webster’s Dictionary (11th edition) for questions of spelling.
  2. Page layout: Word standard document page layout, with justified columns. No other format.
  3. Headings: The typescript should be set out in such a way that the heading levels within chapters are immediately apparent. To indicate the different levels of heading and subheading in your manuscript, please use [A] in front of main headings, [B] in front of sub-headings and [C] in front of sub-subheadings if necessary
  4. Font: All text to be in Times New Roman. Main text to be font size 11 pt. Indented quote font size 10.
  5. Emphasis: To emphasis a word or phrase please italicize it in the text. Do not use bold or underline.
  6. Quotes: Quotes of less than three lines should be run on in the text of the paragraph, in 11 point. Quotes of greater than three lines should be in 10 point, one line spaced above and below the quote, and indented with one tab. Use the UK convention for quotes (i.e. single quote marks; double quote marks within the quotation) – e.g. ‘The Marxist epithet “The philosophers have interpreted the world, the problem is to change it” remains as apt in the 21st century as it was in the 19th’
  7. Line spacing: Single
  8. Between Paragraphs: Single space
  9. Citations:

Use the Harvard Style, following the version explained and exemplified below.

Works should be cited in the text by the name/date system: that is, give the author’s surname, year of publication and, where relevant, the page reference immediately after the material derived from the source, e.g. (Jones 1998, 64). When referring to text spanning more than one page: (Max 1997, 81-83).

Please include page numbers for journal articles as well as books.

In the bibliography, for books, please follow this style (punctuation, upper/lower case) exactly: Surname, Initial. Initial. (Date of publication) Title, Place of publication: Press. E.g. Dawkins, R. (1989) The Selfish Gene, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

For journals (again please follow this style exactly): Surname, Initial. Initial. (Date of publication) ‘Title of paper’, Title of Journal, volume number (issue number), x-y.

See 17 below for further bibliography examples.

  1. Include page reference numbers for all direct citations.
  2. Where there are two or more works by the same author in the same year, they should be distinguished by adding letters: 1997a, 1997b, etc.
  3. When quoting a work by three or more authors, use et al. in the text, but give all the authors’ names in the reference list/bibliography.
  4. Bibliography: Reference and bibliographical lists must always be arranged in alphabetical order by author. Titles of books and journals must be given in italics.
  5. Every work quoted from or mentioned in the text must be included in the reference list/bibliography. Please check that all references are present, and that dates in the text and in the reference list/bibliography are identical.
  6. Bibliography examples:


Colorado, J.A. (2006) Economic theory in the Mexican context: recent developments on the ground, trans. K. Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Makkai, A. and Lockwood, D. G. (1973) Stratificational Linguistics: A Reader, Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Pike, K. L. (1967) Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour, revised edn., The Hague: Mouton.

Rajiv Mehrotra (ed.) (2006) Understanding the Dalai Lama, London: Penguin Books.

Chapter in an edited volume:

Veltman, R. (1982) ‘Comparison and intensification: an ideal but problematic domain for systematic functional theory’, in J. Benson and W. Greaves (eds.), Systematic Perspectives on Discourse, Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 15–32.


Flyvbjerg, B. ‘Habermas and Foucault: Thinkers for Civil Society?’ The British Journal of Sociology, 49 (2), 210-233.

Halliday, M. A. K. (1961) ‘Categories of the theory of grammar’, Word, 17, 241–92.

Lamb, S. M. (1964) ‘The sememic approach to structural semantics’, American Anthropologist, 66 (3, Part 2), 57–78 (reprinted in Pike, 1967).

Conference papers

Published paper:

Gouadec, D. (2001) Training translators: certainties, uncertainties, dilemmas, in B. Maia, J. Haller and M. Ulrych, (eds.) Training the language services provider for the new millennium: proceedings of the III Encontros de Tradução de Astra-FLUP, Universidade do Porto, 17 March. Porto: Universidade do Porto, 31-41.

Paper published online:

Said, M (2006) Reading the World In Fethullah Gulen’s Educational Philosophy, Second International Conference on Islam in the Contemporary World: The Fethullah Gülen Movement in Thought and Practice, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 4-5 March. Available at: (Accessed 26 March 2013).

Unpublished paper:

Scollo, M. (2012) Antiguan contrapuntal conversation in the Bronx, New York. Paper presented at The ethnography of communication: Ways forward, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, 10-14 June, unpublished.


Web document:
Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (2006) Being Prepared for an Influenza Pandemic: a Kit for Small Businesses, Government of Australia. Available at: (Accessed 28 February 2009).


Byrd, K. (2013) Report on Sufi-Yogi Dialogue. Available at: (Accessed 1 March, 2013).

Dialogos (n.d.) Create inspired futures. Available at: (Accessed 26 March 2013).

(Please use ‘n.d.’ to indicate that no date for the document or webpage is available, both in the in-text citation and in the bibliography.)

NCVO (2013) Budget 2013: NCVO’s Response. Available at:’s-response. (Accessed 26 March 2013).


Newton, A. (2007) Newcastle toolkit, Angela Newton blog, 16 January. Available at: (Accessed 23 February 2007).

Newspaper articles

Independent, The (1989) Limits to mutual tolerance (editorial), The Independent, 18 February.

Jones, J. (2013) Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum – review, The Guardian, 26 March. Available at: (Accessed 26 March 2013).