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The Multi-faith Paradigm in Policy and Practice: Problems, Challenges, Directions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 June 2012

Adam Dinham*
Faiths and Civil Society Unit, Goldsmiths, University of London E-Mail:


A significant infrastructure of multi-faith engagement grew and consolidated throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century in England, called forth, at least in part, by government policy. This arose in response to three narratives of religious faith: a policy narrative which constructs faith groups as repositories of resources; a faith narrative which is concerned with the lived experiences of faith; and a partnership narrative which reflects the growing role of faith groups in the mixed economy of welfare (see Dinham and Lowndes, 2008). It is inflected, too, by a fourth narrative located in the bundle of ‘Prevent’ policies which sought to address the risks of religious radicalisation and extremism. This article examines multi-faith policy in England, and the issues driving it, and explores its relationship to the faith-based practices which are imagined by it. It asks the question whether the multi-faith paradigm, as crystallised in the policy document ‘Face to Face and Side by Side: A Framework for Partnership in Our Multi Faith Society’ (CLG, 2008), engages with a real and lived experience or remains a policy chimera and a parallel world.

Themed Section on Social Policy and Religion in Contemporary Britain
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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