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Vincent, Carol. “The illiberalism of liberalism: schools and fundamental controversial values.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2020): 1-18.


This paper analyses the recent protests by mainly Muslim parents against the use of LGBTQ+-friendly story books in a primary school in Birmingham, England, the associated court case, and the broader issues it highlights about the contradictory and complex relationships between liberalism, faith, and democracy. I discuss the case itself, tensions around Relationships and Sex Education, and the wider social and political context for the protest, considering both the position of ‘Muslims’ in the UK’s civic and political society, and how dominant discourses within liberalism responds to ‘others’ in this present temporal moment. I conclude by briefly considering the potential of deliberative democracy and agonism as approaches to address emotive value clashes, and to emphasise the importance of primary schools as places of shared investments, where families and teachers might move towards developing mutual understandings.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.