The concept of a multi-cultural society in post-imperial Britain entails, as we have seen, more than toleration of cultural pluralism. The ideology embraces notions of fairness and equality, and the proponents of multi-culturalism presumably do not intend that celebration of difference should be used to justify inequality as the promotion of difference in Jim Crow America and apartheid South Africa was used to establish grossly unjust social orders. There are, however, considerable problems to be confronted in the endeavour to build a fair and equal multicultural society in Britain. Those issues which I considered to be of a theoretical nature were discussed in Chapter 1, but it is now necessary to look closer at some of the practical problems which have had to be, and are being, confronted in the effort to make the multi-cultural society a reality in the lives of people from both majority and minority communities. In drawing a general outline of these problems I wish to suggest that some problems have been long-standing or historical, whilst others are of relatively recent origins. Both old and new problems reflect the increasingly complex incorporation or integration of new minority ethnic groups into British society. The historical problems have been characterised by struggles to achieve equality of opportunity in employment, fairness in the criminal justice system, equal access to good housing and obtaining a satisfactory education. Increasingly, however, the problems of health, social and community services, and representation of new minorities in the media have become important areas of concern for policy-makers, providers of services, community organisations and politicians, as new minorities become more easily identified as parts of the British social and political fabrics. It is not necessary to attempt a description of all the problems minority ethnic groups, researchers and policy-makers have been concerned with in these areas over the past three decades or more, because not only has a voluminous literature developed around most problem areas, but there has also been a high degree of specialisation in race relations research since the 1970s.
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