Executive Summary of the Research Networking Programme RECODE

The Programme took the concept of complex diversity as its point of departure for analysing the emergence of a new configuration of social conflict – related to the processes of transnationalisation, migration, religious mobilisation, and cultural differentiation – in Europe and Canada. During its running period from June 2010 to November 2014, the Programme brought together a network of leading scholars from both sides of the Atlantic to accomplish its original objectives and to become the template for a series of activities devoted to fleshing out the impact of complex diversity in the four issue areas that were to be examined in- depth, namely 1) linguistic diversity, 2) de-territorialised diversity, 3) religious diversity, and 4) diversity and redistribution. The corresponding thematic sections of the RECODE project organised nine workshops and one doctoral school which focussed on the societal challenges and the institutional responses related to complex diversity from a Euro-Canadian perspective. Parallel to these activities, RECODE produced a collection of working papers which are available online from the Programme’s website [www.recode.info]. In addition, a series of books will be published between 2015 and 2017 to offer a comprehensive overview of the research done in the context of the four work teams.

Section 1 (‘Linguistic diversity’) has produced a systematic assessment of the impact of complex diversity on language politics and language policies. This assessment has both diachronic and synchronic comparative dimensions, and special attention has been paid how the legacies of the old interact with the challenges of the new in the realm of the politics of language. The research under section 2 (‘De-territorialised diversity’) has been particularly concerned with the boundary-transcending character of complex diversity, which entails increasingly globalised, or at least less territorially confined and delimited, patterns of identity politics. Identity politics have thus become more ambiguous in terms of defining in-groups and out-groups. Section 3 (‘Religions and the public sphere’) has explored how, in complex societies, religion has unbound itself from many of its traditional functions yet the management of religious diversity continues to demand specific policies from the state. The section has concentrated on three thematic strands: narratives of secularism, the governance of religion, and the accommodation of religious diversity. Section 4 (‘Solidarity beyond the nation state’) has analysed how the politics of the welfare state has been reshaped by complex diversity, focussing on the challenges facing western democracies when it comes to maintaining and strengthening the bonds of community in ethnically diverse societies, and exploring possible ways to reconcile growing levels of multicultural diversity and the sense of a common identity that underpins a generous welfare state.

The Programme has made an original and innovative contribution to understanding how the formation and articulation of new identities, which are connected with processes such as Europeanisation and transnationalisation, is changing the cleavage structures that were characteristic of modern politics and thereby altering the dynamic of democratic integration in Europe and Canada. In the context of the transition from ‘simple’ to ‘complex’ diversity, diversity can only be grasped properly if we conceive of it as a fluid and multidimensional phenomenon. Complex diversity thus reflects the interplay of the effects of new forms of transnational mobility with established local, regional, and national patterns of social differentiation.

The Programme has created an extensive and vibrating network for scholarly exchange on complex diversity both across Europe and between Europe and Canada. RECODE workshops and conferences were hosted by academic institutions from 10 European countries and from Canada. Around 150 senior and junior scholars, representing a broad range of disciplines and academic backgrounds, were involved in RECODE events. In the coming years, the research paths opened by RECODE will be continued in several collaborative international projects.