Tolerance, Pluralism and Social Cohesion. The ACCEPT PLURALISM Tolerance Indicators Toolkit
Apart from investigating theoretically and empirically the challenges that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity raises in European societies and the ways in which these are debated and addressed, the ACCEPT PLURALISM project aims at creating a tool for assessing the levels of intolerance, tolerance and/or acceptance of cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in European societies. On the basis of our findings from our national case studies and the comparison among them, we develop here a set of qualitative tolerance indicators that seek to translate into assessment of Low / Medium / High the presence or absence of specific features in a country’s policies, practices and discourses.
Our indicators assess policies but also discourses and practices. They aim to evaluate the overall intolerance/tolerance/acceptance 'climate' in a country and not just its public policies. They are a tool for assessing whether European societies are becoming more or less tolerant in the last decade. The indicators aim to offer an overview of the 15 European countries studied. Although they do not cover all EU27 member states they cover a number of countries large enough to provide an overall assessment of the situation in Europe. Last but not least, while the use of these indicators provides a snapshot picture, a synchronic evaluation of where each society is positioned on an intolerance/tolerance/acceptance scale, these indicators can be used in the future to assess whether a given society is becoming more or less tolerant. Alternatively, they can also be used to assess the same country in the past and consider how it has developed in recent years.
These indicators and our country assessments can function in support of the key messages for national and European policy makers that we have elaborated in the ACCEPT PLURALISM policy papers.
In introducing the ACCEPT PLURALISM Tolerance Indicators, this paper starts by discussing the scope and nature of social indicators in general and briefly reviews some widely known types of social indicators. It then proceeds to discuss more specifically indicators for tolerance and related social phenomena such as democracy, social cohesion, citizenship acquisition and practice and of course to present our proposed of ethnic and religious tolerance indicators.