Interculturalism in Cities

Interculturalism in Cities

Concept, Policy and Implementation

Edited by Ricard Zapata-Barrero

Cities are increasingly recognized as new players in diversity studies, and many of them are showing evidence of an intercultural shift. As an emerging concept and policy, interculturalism is becoming the most pragmatic answer to concrete concerns in cities. Within this framework, this book covers two major concerns: how to conceptualize and how to implement intercultural policies. Through the use of theoretical and comparative case studies, the current most prominent contributors in the field examine an area that multicultural policies have missed in the past: interaction between people from different cultures and national backgrounds. By compiling the recent research in Europe and elsewhere this book concludes that interculturalism is becoming both an attractive and efficient new paradigm for diversity management.

Introduction: framing the intercultural turn

Ricard Zapata-Barrero

Subjects: geography, cities, human geography, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, urban and regional studies, cities, migration, urban studies


This edited volume is situated at the intersection of two trends in current European policy debate. First, there is the common tendency in Europe to move from a state-centred approach to a local-centred approach in diversity policies, where cities are increasingly recognized as not only implementers, but also as new player1 in a multi-level framework (Hepburn and Zapata-Barrero, 2014). Second, and within this context, an increasing number of cities are opting for interculturalism as a new policy focus, given the crisis of state multiculturalism (among others, Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2010). Interculturalism is therefore at the centre of debates on diversity and is becoming a new way for cities to deal with diversity dynamics. As an emerging public policy, the current debate has been generating strong, convincing arguments. Interculturalism is beginning to influence some governments, leading them to reconsider their policies and introduce this new paradigm – which is considered to be the most pragmatic answer to concrete concerns in cities and their plans for the future. Interculturalism is basically an urban phenomenon. There are many European institutional documents and initiatives along with some initial academic research, which is highlighted in this book, evincing this intercultural turn.