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Abstract

The concept of ‘community cohesion’ has played a defining role in the institution of a new policy agenda for regenerating urban areas in many liberal welfare states. Its particular interpretation supports the installation of urban programmes that are based not on the improvement of the built environment, but rather investment in the social and cultural composition of cities. In particular, the economic and civic participation of individuals living within deprived urban areas is positioned as a key means of redressing situations of inequality and disadvantage. This article reviews the concept of ‘community cohesion’, its use in urban policy in the UK, and the recent literature on this subject. Through an indicative discussion of the New Deal for Communities programme, it explores the potential implications of ‘community cohesion’ for disadvantaged policy subjects and considers especially its provisions for ethnic minority groups: a constellation of community in which individuals are understood to experience a ‘double disadvantage’ as a result of their disproportionate concentration in deprived urban areas, and their subjection to the consequences of racial discrimination (as well as language and cultural barriers).