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Religious Diversity in Australia: Rethinking Social Cohesion

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School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Bag 22, Hobart, Tasmania, Hobart 7000, Australia
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School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne, VIC 3800, Australia
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Alfred Deakin Institute, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway Burwood, Melbourne, VIC 3125, Australia
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School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway Burwood, Melbourne, VIC 3125, Australia
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Religions and Education Research Unit, Warwick University, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK
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Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa, 75 Laurier Ave. East, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2020, 11(2), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020092
Received: 27 September 2019 / Revised: 23 January 2020 / Accepted: 12 February 2020 / Published: 18 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Australian Public Life: Resurgence, Insurgence, Cooption?)
This paper argues for a reconsideration of social cohesion as an analytical concept and a policy goal in response to increasing levels of religious diversity in contemporary Australia. In recent decades, Australian has seen a revitalization of religion, increasing numbers of those who do not identify with a religion (the “nones”), and the growth of religious minorities, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Sikhism. These changes are often understood as problematic for social cohesion. In this paper, we review some conceptualizations of social cohesion and religious diversity in Australia, arguing that the concept of social cohesion, despite its initial promise, is ultimately problematic, particularly when it is used to defend privilege. We survey Australian policy responses to religious diversity, noting that these are varied, often piecemeal, and that the hyperdiverse state of Victoria generally has the most sophisticated set of public policies. We conclude with a call for more nuanced and contextualized analyses of religious diversity and social cohesion in Australia. Religious diversity presents both opportunities as well as challenges to social cohesion. Both these aspects need to be considered in the formation of policy responses. View Full-Text
Keywords: social cohesion; Australia; religious diversity; social policy; cosmopolitanism; deep equality; reasonable pluralism social cohesion; Australia; religious diversity; social policy; cosmopolitanism; deep equality; reasonable pluralism
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Ezzy, D.; Bouma, G.; Barton, G.; Halafoff, A.; Banham, R.; Jackson, R.; Beaman, L. Religious Diversity in Australia: Rethinking Social Cohesion. Religions 2020, 11, 92.

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