Towards a “Topography” of Tolerance and Equal Respect. A comparative study of policies for the distribution of public spaces in culturally diverse societies.
Tolerance has been increasingly invoked as the inspiring ideal of a number of social policies in European democracies. Appeals to tolerance have animated especially the political debates on those policies addressed to accommodate minorities’ requests. Among such requests those for the allocation of public spaces have recently acquired pride of place in the political agendas of many European and extra-European countries (e.g. the allocation of space for Roma sites; Muslims’ requests to build places of worship and housing policies for migrants). Despite such a generalized political and societal relevance of the notion of tolerance, some problems may occur when policies inspired by it are implemented. In particular, the implementation of tolerance-inspired spatial policies may result in the marginalisation of differences and thus risk undermining social cohesion. What conception of tolerance may be invoked to limit such a risk?
To answer this question, we shall test the hypothesis that grounding tolerance on equal respect for persons may contribute to the development of spatial policies capable of resolving the tensions between tolerance and social cohesion in culturally diverse societies. In particular, the project pursues 4 objectives:
to develop a conceptual taxonomy to clarify the relations between tolerance, respect and spatial issues;
to study the ways in which appeals to tolerance have informed the development of spatial policies;
to investigate the influence of cultural diversities on the interpretations of tolerance in different national contexts;
to extrapolate from the above studies an overall view of the connections between tolerance and equal respect.
Our findings will be of interests to national CSOs, European, national, regional and municipal authorities, as well as to the international academic community engaged in the study of urban integration in different social, religious, cultural, and political contexts.