Beyond social cohesion: The role of ‘Fusion of Horizons’ in inter-group solidarities
British policies towards immigration have recently been preoccupied with cultivating a sense of social cohesion among ethnic and cultural groups in the United Kingdom. Such policies highlight the increasing uneasiness of the British state regarding cultural diversity, which is seen as being at odds with solidarity. In this paper we move away from this dichotomy between solidarity and cultural diversity and the pursuit of social cohesion and order to propose that solidarity is not a universal social and cultural condition to be achieved, but a transient part of the process of intergroup understanding. Drawing on Gadamer, we argue that intergroup solidarities are temporary bonds that already exist between groups but need to be brought to consciousness through a ‘fusion of horizons’. We look at British people’s representations of immigration and the tensions that arise out of their encounters with the perspective of the ‘other’. We provide an analysis of the conditions that permeate the process of fusion through a study on social values conducted in London with members of the British public.