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.

Chapter 1: Interculturalism: main hypothesis, theories and strands

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


Despite the many conferences and policy meetings devoted to intercultural policies, there are still small internal disputes among those who share this policy approach. In my view, we need to take a direct step forward in the emerging debate to open a wide path for a promising internal discussion among interculturalists. It is time to put aside the discussion in justifying and defining interculturalism’s place in (and distance from) the diversity discourse among the other traditional proposals, such as assimilation and multiculturalism. It is time to enter into a foundational debate on interculturalism. Taking into account the recent literature, we encounter a policy strategy that understands that we are in the process of building a ‘living together context’, given increasing diversity in Western contemporary societies. We are also in a context that lacks convincing public policies to deal with the reality of super-diversity (Vertovec, 2007, 2014).