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Multiculturalism. What is multiculturalism? As a descriptive term it refers to cultural diversity where two or more groups with distinctive beliefs/cultures.

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Presentation on theme: "Multiculturalism. What is multiculturalism? As a descriptive term it refers to cultural diversity where two or more groups with distinctive beliefs/cultures."— Presentation transcript:

1 Multiculturalism

2 What is multiculturalism? As a descriptive term it refers to cultural diversity where two or more groups with distinctive beliefs/cultures exist in a society. It can also refer to government policy as a formal recognition of the cultural distinctiveness of particular groups. It implies a positive endorsement of cultural diversity.

3 The key tenets

4 Postcolonialism Postcolonialism sought to challenge the cultural dimensions of imperial rule by establishing the legitimacy of non western political ideas and traditions. It is a challenge of Eurocentrism which is the application of values and theories drawn from European culture to other groups. In response Orientalism developed. This challenges western cultural and political dominance over the Orient via stereotypes which demean non western cultures. It also allows for non western ideas to be considered as equally legitimate with western ideas. It can take a variety of forms. Gandhi ( ) fused Indian nationalism with non violence to overthrow British rule whereas Franz fanon ( ) advocated violence to overthrow French rule in the Caribbean.

5 Identity Multiculturalism is a form of identity politics to advance the interests of particular groups in the face of perceived or actual injustice. It seeks to raise awareness via stressing a collective identity and common experience. It is communitarian- people cannot be understood outside of society and are shaped by social and cultural contexts to which they belong. Multiculturalists hold that culture shapes values, norms and assumptions through which individual identity is formed, and provides a sense of rootedness. There is a focus on ethnicity. Members of ethnic groups are seen as descended from common ancestors making the ethnic group an extended kinship group. It gives people a common identity and sense of distinctiveness. Religion is also very important for groups of non western groups for example Muslim groups in western societies.. However, for others, it can be language the Quebecois in Canada, Welsh or the Spanish Basques. Language helps to keep alive a body of literature, myths and legends.

6 Minority rights Self government. This applies where people are territorially concentrated such as native Americans. It involves the devolution of power (consociationalism) In the case of immigration, the granting of polytechnic rights- e.g. legal exemptions- halal or kosher butchers. Minority or multicultural rights are separate from liberal view on rights because they belong to the group rather than an individual. Hence multiculturalism is essentially collective and communitarian. Whilst seeking to treat cultural groups as equal in their entitlement to recognition, multiculturalism is prepared to grant preferential rights to specific groups as a way of redressing past wrongs via positive discrimination.

7 Diversity Multiculturalists believe that cultural diversity is compatible with political cohesion. People have multiple identities and therefore loyalties. People are able to participate in society because they have a firm and secure identity rooted in their own culture. Denial of culture results in isolation and powerlessness providing a breeding ground for extremism. Diversity should be celebrated. It fosters cross cultural tolerance and understanding.

8 Why is multiculturalism compatible with Liberalism? It coincides with liberal commitment to toleration and a desire to uphold freedom of choice. Liberalism is neutral to the moral and cultural choices citizens make. Liberalism is difference blind- cultural difference is irrelevant because all people should be regarded as morally autonomous individuals. Liberals draws a distinction between the public and private sphere- the latter is seen as a realm of freedom where people are free to express cultural, religious and language identity.

9 What are the limits to liberal multiculturalism? Toleration is extended only to views and practices compatible with personal freedom and autonomy. In drawing a distinction between the public and private sphere, liberals expect everyone to share a consensus civic allegiance- leading to ban on hijab in France or of all forms of overt religious affiliation in French schools. Liberals regard liberal democracy as the sole legitimate political system as it ensures that government is based on the consent of the people. Therefore, liberals would oppose calls for the adoption of shari’a law. Liberals will only tolerate groups which are prepared to tolerate and respect thee rights of others. Multiculturalism by stressing group needs and interests is another form of collectivism where the rights and needs of the individual are subordinated to those of the group and can lead to ‘ghettoisation’ whereby people identify only with the needs of a particular group and fail to recognise or respect the rights of other groups.

10 Particularist multiculturalism Isaiah Berlin went beyond liberal multiculturalism by endorsing value pluralism. This is the theory that there is no single overriding conception of the good life. A form of live and let live. A ‘post-liberal’ stance in which liberal values are no longer seen as having a monopoly of legitimacy. Cultural diversity takes place within a context of unequal power in which certain groups have had advantages denied to other groups. Particularist multiculturalism is therefore aligned to the needs and interests of marginalized groups.

11 Cosmopolitan Multiculturalism Cosmopolitan multiculturalists endorse cultural diversity and identity politics. It emphasises cultural exchange and what each culture can learn from others. It encourages cultural mixing or a pick and mix approach to culture where people can dip into a variety of cultural practices. Culture is fluid and related to personal needs and circumstances rather than being fixed and historically embedded.. Society is a melting pot of different ideas, values and traditions rather than a cultural mosaic of separate ethnic and religious groups. This is hybridity whereby people develop multiple identities.

12 Why do conservatives fear/oppose multiculturalism? Shared values and beliefs are seen by Conservatives as necessary precondition for a stable and successful society. Human beings are drawn to those who are similar to themselves and a fear of strangers and foreigners is natural. Multiculturalism is inherently flawed as multicultural societies are fractured and conflict ridden. Multiculturalist image of ‘diversity within unity’ is a myth. Conservatives press for assimilation in which the immigrant communities lose their cultural distinctiveness by adjusting to the values, allegiances and lifestyles of the ‘host’ society. Multiculturalism by its association with colonialism and racism by favouring the culture of minority groups through positive discrimination and positive rights demeans the culture of the majority group.

13 Feminists and multiculturalism Feminists are concerned when minority rights and politics of recognition serve to preserve and legitimize patriarchal and traditional beliefs that disadvantage women. Feminists are concerned with cultural practices such as dress codes, family structures etc which reinforce structural gender biases. Feminists are concerned that women will be under cultural pressure not to speak out for their rights and seek redress through religious courts in divorce cases rather than speak out or advance their rights.

14 Social reformists and multiculturalism Multiculturalism encourages groups to seek advancement through cultural or ethnic assertiveness rather than via struggle for social justice. Multiculturalism therefore fails to address issues of class inequality and lack of economic power and social status. Multiculturalism divides people and weakens those who have a common economic interest in alleviating poverty and promoting social reform. A more acute awareness of cultural difference may weaken support for welfarist and redistributive policies


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